Posted on 11 June 2014
Recently, someone interning at CEA asked me whether they should keep working for CEA or do “earning to give” work, for the purpose of funding the effective altruism movement. I suggested that they should keep working for CEA because the effective altruism movement is unlikely to be slowed down in the coming years due to lack of funding, this person wasn’t likely to be able to earn as much as people currently doing earning to give and financially backing the effective altruism movement, and this person could probably meaningfully contribute to CEA’s work. For someone who can meaningfully contribute to organizations doing important work in the effective altruism movement, my intuition is that one should only select a job on the basis of “earning to give” considerations if they would be in a position to donate, e.g., >$50,000 per year in the near future (or have some comparable expected return for risky ventures like start-ups), and perhaps only if they were going to donate substantially more. I would not necessarily have any objection to such a person choosing a high-earning career track if other considerations (such as personal development) were also playing a significantly role in their decision.