Topic 8: Meta-Charities & Meta-Causes

Objectives

This week’s theme is about meta-level concepts, defined here as ideas that are big-picture abstractions. The readings are organised into two categories. Firstly, we will look at meta-charities, which are organisations that evaluate and support charities. Then, we will examine meta-causes, which indirectly support one or more cause areas. We recommend reading the resources in the listed order, as they tend to build on each other. The predicted total reading time is approximately 1 hour.  

Note that this week, you will discuss these readings in-depth at a group discussion with fellow mentees. 

Essential readings (expected reading time 1h)

Meta-Charities 

As a short introduction, read this post (2 min), which summarises meta-charities, how they work, and the impact they can have.  

Next, learn more about a charity evaluator that has already been mentioned in previous weeks, namely GiveWell. This post (4 min) introduces the organisation, presenting an overview of its creation, aims, and methodologies.  

 

In addition, read the introductory post (2 min) on One for the World, a meta-charity that focuses on eradicating extreme poverty. Committee members of OFTW St Andrews will join this week’s event to share their own thoughts on meta-charity. 

To conclude this subsection, read the ‘About Us’ post (2 min) introducing Giving What We Can (GWWC). It gives an overview of the history, mission, and impact of the organisation. 

Meta-Causes 

Firstly, this 80,000 Hours article (15 min) is an in-depth introduction to the meta-level cause area of improving institutional decision-making (IIDM). It considers both reasons for and against prioritising IIDM. Then, the article highlights several different routes for getting involved.  

80,000 Hours also has a comprehensive introduction (15 min) for Global Priorities Research (GPR). It first explains what GPR is, then outlines the reasons for and against working in this meta-cause. Finally, it considers concrete ways in which one can help.  

Lastly, this 80,000 Hours article (10 min) explains how building the EA community is an important meta-cause area. It highlights why this could be very impactful, but also explores some reasons against working in this area personally. It concludes by highlighting specific routes of involvement. 

Optional readings

This ‘Who We Are’ post (2 min) introduces Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE), a meta-charity specialising in promoting animal welfare.  

This ‘Our Story’ post (2 min) introduces The Life You Can Save, a meta-charity focused on eradicating the effects of extreme poverty.  

This ‘Our Story’ post (2 min) introduces the Happier Lives Institute (HLI), a meta-charity focused on researching subjective well-being.