Our impact

Last updated May 2015, so these figures are no longer up to date. We’ll do our next update in December 2016 during our next fundraising round.

Our aim is to help as many people as possible increase the social impact of their careers. We’ve reached millions of people through our media coverage and over 400,000 people have visited our website. This has resulted in hundreds of people changing their career plans to increase their impact. People we’ve advised intend to donate over $10m to high-impact charities within the next three years. Some have founded new organisations (ten at last count) while others have started high-impact careers in politics and research.

Some examples:

How do we measure our impact?

Primarily, we track how many users have made “significant plan changes” due to our advice:

A sig plan change = Someone tells us that 80,000 Hours has caused them to change the career path they intend to pursue, in a way that they think will increase their lifetime impact.

See more detail on the definition.

As of the end of April 2015, we’ve recorded 188 significant plan changes – see a list of examples.

Once every year or two, we estimate the (counterfactual) value of a significant plan change. We think of our total impact as roughly the number of significant plan changes multiplied by the value of a change.

We also track many other metrics, actively seek feedback, and constantly criticise and re-evaluate our own advice. If lots of people listen to us, our advice is high-quality, and readers change their career plans, then we’re likely to be having a substantial impact. See our full self-evaluations for more.

Key figures

Year20112012201320142015 (ending 30-Apr)All-time total
Reach: Unique visits to site4,26646,92491,999149,16484,928373,252
YoY growth rateNA1000%96%62%110%NA
New significant plan changes recorded (at end of year)NANA378170188
YoY growth rateNANANA119%180%NA
Significant plan changes attributable to online contentNANA1384685
Significant plan changes attributable to coachingNANA223833
Significant plan changes attributed to other (mainly community)NANA14401670
Financial costs0£23,171£124,008£119,326£46,900£313,405
Labour costs (in person-weeks)7815935123178871
Total financial costs to date divided by total plan changesNANA£3,978£2,259£1,667£1,667

Year on year growth rate. For Jan-Apr 2015, compared to the same period in the previous year.

Historical cost-effectiveness

Dividing our historical costs by the number of plan changes, it costs less than £1,700 and 5 person-weeks per plan change. Given that a plan change represents a major shift in direction for one of the world’s most talented young graduates, with decades of work ahead of them, you’d expect this to be worth it. And our detailed estimates from April 2014 suggest that the average additional impact of a plan change is many times this cost, which is especially encouraging given our small scale.

Since our April 2014 estimates, the evidence is even stronger:

  • Some of the plan changers earn to give, and donate more because of us. The amount the largest donors intend to donate within the next three years due to us increased about ten-fold to £6.9m.
  • This year, we also identified five professional non-profits which likely wouldn’t exist without 80,000 Hours, and now collectively have a budget larger than our own.
  • And this doesn’t include any impact which will result from people we have helped who have gone on to build skills or enter research or politics: we regard their potential as equal to or even more significant than the impact of donations from people who are earning to give.

We’ve achieved all this based on total spending of about £300,000.

Impact beyond historical plan changes

The impact of these significant plan changes is an underestimate of our total impact. First, it doesn’t include any future impact that results from our research. It also probably misses a lot of our historical impact, in large part because we believe many plan changes are never reported to us, either because the individual never gets round to reporting, or because the ideas were passed on to them indirectly. In addition, we don’t count small plan changes, or benefits like increased motivation and confidence in one’s existing plans.

We’ve also helped to build the vibrant “effective altruism” community, which we expect to continue to have a great deal of impact even if we were to shut down.