The figures in this post were accurate as of September 2013. Please contact [email protected] for our latest information.
We’re looking for donations to develop 80,000 Hours.
We set up 80,000 Hours because we believe it is our best opportunity to make the most difference in the world. There’s an enormous opportunity to help thousands or even millions of people to find the opportunities that enable them to make the most difference.
We’re looking for £360,000 to develop our content over the next two years, test to see if it works, and, if it works, prepare to take it to scale. During that time, we also anticipate carrying out hundreds of in-depth consulting sessions with the most high potential, altruistic young people in the world, spinning off high impact projects and raising millions for charity.
If you would like to talk to someone about donating, please contact development AT 80000hours.org.
You can see more details on what we have done and our plans on our evaluation pages.
What can your donations buy?
Over 80% of our budget is for our staff. So extra donations mainly allow us to maintain and grow the team. We think our team represents exceptional value. It’s made up of highly able, dedicated people, who care a great deal about the impact they have in the world, and so work for less than they could make even at other non-profits.
Here are some examples of the kinds of ways we can spend money on the margin
- An extra £100 allows us to talk to 2 people one-on-one about their plans.
An extra £500 enables us to do a full case study.
An extra £1,000 enables us to host a graduate volunteer to do a month of research, including all overhead. In this time they could do projects like creating a framework for comparing two important options, such as research and earning to give, they could interview experts about promising talent gaps, or they could survey empirical data on important questions, like expected earnings estimates.
An extra £25,000 enables us to hire an extra full time researcher or careers coach for a year, including all overhead. They could do something like deliver 50 in-depth case studies.
For more information on our projected budget and how we intend to spend additional funds, please see our latest finance report.
What kind of return have you earned with donations in the past?
In only a year we have taken 80,000 Hours from a volunteer run student society to a professional organisation with 8 full-time staff that’s hosted within Oxford University offices.
Our key focus has been rapidly learning about what business model to pursue and what content to create. We think we have been successful in this aim, and have taken our strategy through several major iterations.
Despite not being our focus, we’ve had strong success in outreach. Web traffic took off after we started full time:
This led to growing membership about seven-fold from 120 in July 2012 to 1000 today.
In terms of charitable donations alone, we expect to have raised many times our costs on behalf of top charities. In addition we have:
Received major media coverage
We have been mentioned in The Washington Post, The New York Times, BBC Today Programme, The Daily Mail, CNBC, NPR, Quartz, and in Peter Singer’s TED talk.
Produced substantial content
We’ve published over 100 blog posts, given one-on-one advice to over 100 people, and have published an article in a major philosophy journal.
Contributed to creating a network of alumni and projects
Over this period, Effective Animal Activism hired an Executive Director and was spun-off. We’ve begun talking to a group of top entrepreneurs about starting an incubator. We’ve seen several 80k alumni each donate over $80,000 in their first year alone, and enter jobs at Google, McKinsey, Jane St and Rothschild.
Completed key organisational set up
We’ve grown from being a volunteer team to a professional organisation with 8 full-time staff and Oxford University offices in a just a year. We’ve also completed key legal set up.
For more on our cost-effectiveness, please see our recent evaluation of 80,000 Hours as a project.
Why do you think this project is high impact?
We’re the only people in the world who are systematically investigating the best opportunities for individuals to make a difference.
By preparing and delivering this information, we’ll have the potential to bring thousands of extra people to work on the most high priority opportunities in the world.
If our model works, it will be extremely cost-effective. 80,000 Hours will act as a multiplier on the resources going into whichever opportunity is best at the time. For instance, suppose we identify a promising idea for a new non-profit. We find someone better qualified than ourselves to take that position. Our team has less than 10 people, but we have the potential to help at least hundreds of other people enter the best opportunities.
An investment in us now enables us to transparently explore this possibility of having huge leverage to see if it really works. If it does, we’ll be able to massively scale it up, since the issue of which careers make the most difference is of interest to a large fraction of young graduates (for instance, see this survey) and no-one else is doing anything like this.
In addition, over the next two years, we anticipate the following extra benefits:
* Raise more than our costs in donations to top funding opportunities through promoting earning to give
* Do in-depth research to help the career decisions of at least 100 of the most altruistic, most high potential people we can find
* Prepare over a hundred research reports on which careers are best and how to choose them
* Build connections within the effective altruism community and promote the key ideas of effective altruism
For more detail on our plans, please see here
In addition to the strength of the concept, we think the following strands support our case:
(1) Success to date
We have been successful in rapidly growing an effective, well managed organisation with a highly motivated team in very little time.
We think this team has been successful in rapidly learning about which approaches work and adapting our strategy based on the evidence. In the last year, we have made four rounds of improvement to our strategy.
Further, we had significant outreach success, which gives us confidence that our model can work. For instance:
* We have been able to generate major press coverage for our ideas, including Peter Singer’s TED talk about effective altruism, Will MacAskill’s column on Qz.com and press coverage of earning to give.
* We have been able to significantly increase the the number of visits to our site, from about 2,500 unique visits per month in July 2012 to over 8,000 today.
* This has led to significant demand for our case studies. We now turn away over 90% of requests.
* We have had exponential membership growth to 1000 members, and over 10% of these say they anticipate significantly or completely changing their career because of 80,000 Hours.
* By working with people in-depth in the past, we have led to dramatic career changes. For more, see our business plan. This includes several people choosing to pursue earning to give and donating tens of thousands of dollars to effective charities.
* We have already been able to help fill some high priority career opportunities by finding a trial hire for GiveWell, a staff member for Giving What We Can and a staff member for the Future of Humanity Institute.
* We have already spun-off an entirely new charity operating in a high priority area.
For more details on what we’ve achieved and what mistakes we have made, see our evaluation.
(2) The base rate
We think we operate at the intersection of several broad promising areas, which increases our confidence about our impact to date and the promise of our model.
- As we will argue in an upcoming post, we think cause prioritisation is a highly promising area. 80,000 Hours contributes directly to cause prioritisation by carrying out and collating career prioritisation research.
We’re part of the effective altruism movement, which is itself growing very rapidly and has produced highly cost-effective projects like GiveWell, which we aim to model ourselves on.
On average, it’s easy to raise more than $1 for charity per $1 spent fundraising. An element of what we do is fundraising for effective charities. The rest of what we do is analogous to fundraising except it involves human capital.
(3) The team
You pay for a highly able team at a very low price. Our staff work for lower wages than they could receive elsewhere, even in the non-profit sector, because their core aim is making the most difference.
(4) Our motivations
We’re working on this project because we think it’s one of the best ways for us to make a difference in the world. We hold ourselves to high standards of evidence, and if we don’t think what we do works, we’ll either change it or scale back the project.
(5) The market niche
We think there’s a clear case of a market niche. There’s strong and growing demand for careers with a social impact among young people.[^1] But there’s little guidance as to what’s best. The few ethical careers services that exist (ethicalcareers.org; ethicaljobs.net; ethical-jobs.co.uk) are small and often superficial in their advice, lacking key considerations such as those listed here. Moreover, people are dissatisfied with careers advice in general: our survey found that only 15% of students in Oxford find existing careers services “very useful” and we’ve been able to generate substantial interest in our alternative careers service in little time.
What are you plans and strategy for the future?
How can I get more information and donate?
If you have more questions, you may find the answer in our latest six month review, otherwise please contact [email protected] You can also contact this address to receive a pack of further materials.
Notes and References
: Over 70% regard ethical considerations “crucial” in their choice of employer (the Guardian) over 80% of Oxford students want to make a positive impact (our survey), and 31% of American students say making an impact is “essential.”
: Our survey of 120 students in Oxford.