Financial accounts

Current financial situation

This page is updated roughly once a year, usually around December. For our most up to date financial data, including periodic updates on our reserves, see regular emails in our updates list.

Projected baseline 2019/20 budgets

 2019 ($)2020 ($)
Staff and contractors salaries, payroll and benefits1,562,6101,686,456
Non-salary staff expenses (e.g. travel, confences and food)121,516137,557
Office rent, supplies, furnishing and utilities368,032448,961
Contribution to CEA's expenses for operations177,840237,660
Legal and immigration22,57122,693
Computer Software & Hardware16,23117,219
Internet/Web/Hosting Fees67,88690,899
Uncategorized Expenditure2,4722,584

This is how much we would expect to spend if we don’t hire further staff.

Our full expansion plans would add $325,000 to our budget in 2019 and $1,040,000 in 2020, of which about 65% is salaries to hire new staff.

These estimates were last updated in early December 2018.

Historical data

Financial and staff inputs over time

YearSpending ($)Income ($)Number of full-time staff (includ. share of CEA from 2018)Total staff FTE (inc. interns, volunteers, freelancers & share of CEA)
2017 (Partially audited)751,4802,058,0936.37.8
2018 (Partial year ending 17 Dec)1,074,2451,367,0287.910.1
2019 (Baseline)2,375,434-1012.2
2019 (Expansion)2,700,434-12.514.7
2020 (Baseline)2,682,871-1012.2
2020 (Expansion)3,722,871-17.519.7


  • Our accounts have not been finalised for 2017-2018 so these are our (fairly accurate) best guesses of our spending and income.
  • Our official UK accounts run July to June, and US accounts January to December. For simplicity, we have simply divided UK spending evenly between the first and second half of each financial year and present the totals in calendar years.
  • Our UK spending and income are converted to US dollars based on the average exchange rate over the relevant year or half-year.
  • There are some minor inconsistencies between these numbers and our expected reserves, which are mostly generated by exchange rate variations, and revision to the internal allocations of costs within CEA after our reports have been filed with the Charity Commission or IRS.
  • 80,000 Hours supported a lot of interns in 2013, a strategy that we reversed in 2014 and after, in order to focus on training and retaining full time staff. This is why the number of FTE in the rightmost column falls at that point.
  • For more information about where our money comes from, see our donors page.

2018 spending and income relative to budget projections (UK and USA combined)

Spending was broadly in line with our projections.

In December 2017 we produced a ‘baseline budget’ that had us spending $1,083,000 in 2018 if we didn’t launch any new projects or hire any new staff.

In addition, we raised enough for an expansion budget of $1,425,000 — the increase was to hire 2.5 extra full-time equivalents; raise salaries and spend an additional $25,000 on marketing.

As of November, we expect to spend $1,360,000 over 2018, close to our expansion budget.

We increased salaries and hired two extra full-time staff, in line with our expansion plan. However the staff started in September, and so didn’t increase costs as much as budgeted. We also spent less on marketing since it didn’t seem like a top priority, and saved on legal fees by not applying for US Green Cards. On the other hand, Peter McIntyre returned to the team in the summer, and we made a larger contribution to CEA operations than budgeted. These various corrections roughly cancelled out. Most other line items came in similar to what we projected.

These accounts will be finalised in 2019.

 2018 spending projected in Dec 2017, if we didn’t hire anyone new ($)2018 spending, projected in early Dec 2018 ($)
Staff and contractors salaries, payroll and benefits695,856957,159
Non-salary staff expenses (e.g. travel, conferences and food)71,86095,176
Office rent, supplies and utilities132,900119,090
Contribution to CEA's expenses for operations50,00090,000
Legal and immigration37,2004,530
Computer Software & Hardware13,20015,797
Internet/Web/Hosting Fees50,52046,117
Non-employee insurance600113
Uncategorized Expenditure2,4002,017

2017-18 Financial year (UK)

Our UK 2017-18 accounts are being finalised, but will represent only a small fraction of our spending over that time.

2017 Financial year (USA) accounts

Our USA 2017 accounts are being finalised with our auditors.

2016-17 Financial year (UK) accounts

Annual audited accounts, including cost breakdown for 80,000 Hours.

2016 Financial year (USA) accounts

Annual audited accounts for our fiscal sponsor, the Centre for Effective Altruism USA.

2015-16 Financial year (UK) accounts

Annual audited accounts, including cost breakdown for 80,000 Hours.

2014-15 Financial year (UK) accounts

Annual audited accounts, including cost breakdown for 80,000 Hours

2013-14 Financial year (UK) accounts

Annual audited accounts
Discussion of cost breakdown

2012-13 Financial year (UK) accounts

Annual audited accounts
Discussion of cost breakdown

Reserves policy

We strongly prioritise having at least 6 months of cash reserves, and aim to maintain at least 12 months. We regard 6 months as probably not providing enough margin for error, and will avoid any expansion while reserves are below 6 months.

We also aim to fundraise only once per year, so we have the rest of the year to focus on our programmes. This means we need to raise 24 months’ reserves, then spend it down to 12 months over the year.

We chose to stay above 12 months because it is difficult to change our income or expenses in less than 6-12 months. On the income side, it can take between 3-18 months from starting to fundraise and receiving the income. On the expenses side, we typically make multi-year commitments to staff, rent and other expenses, so can’t easily reduce expenses within 12 months.

Overall, 12 months of reserves gives us a reasonable margin for error if a round of fundraising goes worse than expected, and 18 months is better still. The benefits start to diminish after 24 months’ reserves.

In addition, it is conventional in the charity sector to have 3-12 months of cash reserves, and seems to be regarded as good practice to have over 12. For instance, Charity Navigator gives its highest scores to charities who have at least one year of reserves.1

Notes and references

  1. Archived link, retrieved 3-Dec-2016. See the section on “working capital ratio”.