80k supporter update - bout 1 2019 and fundraising update

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Benjamin Todd

Mar 31, 2019, 6:32:50 PM3/31/19
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Hi everyone,

Here’s our update for 2019 so far.

Fundraising update: grant of $4.8m from the Open Philanthropy Project

We started our annual fundraising round in Dec 2018. As a result, the Open Philanthropy Project has decided to recommend a grant of $4,795,803 over two years.

This covers just over half of our core target for this year and next year. I’ll be in touch over the coming months with our 2018 annual review and details on our remaining fundraising targets.

Summary metrics


All figures are approximate.

Cash reserves (end February 2019)


Costs last month (February 2019)


Cash reserves divided by costs last month



# of salaried employees (FTE, excluding freelancers)



10 (2.581 FTE)

Morale (on a scale of 1-10, full-time staff average)


Primary growth metric

Change in total impact-adjusted significant plan changes

Annual growth rates:


Change in total IASPC

Growth in last 12 months compared to this period

Monthly compound rate since period

Last 12 months























Annual IASPC targets

All time IASPC growth chart

Note we think the relative weightings are not correct and should be more stretched out. There are also several other problems with our plan change metric. We plan to update our system this year, and will post an update about this here when it’s done.

-----------------------Full update -----------------------

Story of a plan change

In 2016 Zac was planning on being an academic in theoretical physics. At the time, he was a PhD student at Queen Mary University of London and had previously graduated from the Cambridge MMath with a distinction.

He came across our career guide online, and through this found out about effective altruism and joined Giving What We Can. He also became involved in the community and decided to switch towards AI safety.

After leaving his PhD, Zac worked as a data scientist at ASI (now Faculty.ai), where some of his colleagues were also interested in AI safety. He had an 80,000 Hours coaching session during which we put him in touch with a number of AI safety researchers. We also helped him craft a plan for publishing in ML and applying to roles that would lead to technical AI safety work. He is now a postdoc in machine learning in Oxford, where he works with Prof Yarin Gal and is based at the Future of Humanity Institute. You can see his publications here.

Progress so far in 2019

Our last update was at the end of Oct 2018.  Since then, we have:

  • Decided to move to London, and went through with it. All but one of the core team has already relocated and we're most of the way through getting visas for non-UK citizens. We've also secured an office that'll be a great fit for at least the next 5 years and completed the skeleton move-in.

  • Carried out our annual review & impact evaluation, and written it up.

  • Began fundraising, and filled over half of our target.

  • Promoted Brenton to director of internal systems and Michelle to head of advising. Brenton will continue to manage Michelle, as well as oversee impact evaluation, operations and some other work from me. I anticipate this freeing up a significant amount of my capacity over the year.

In bout 1 for 2019, we especially focused on:

  • Doing our annual strategy review.

  • Hiring

    • We trialled and made a job offer to Arden Koehler, a philosophy PhD student at NYU. She will join our research team towards the end of the year, once she is done working on her thesis.

    • We offered Maria Gutierrez a 12-month contract to continue her work on the job board. Her role will increase from 30% time to 80% time, which will enable her to list more top vacancies, improve promotion and take on more responsibility for managing the board.

    • We started a full-time office manager on a trial.

    • We ran three trials looking for more career advisors and made two offers. We’re still waiting to hear back from these candidates.

  • On-going London set-up, such as moving into our office and getting visas.

Over the period, we also continued delivering our key programmes:

  • We continued to do advising (speaking to 110 people).

  • We released 8 new episodes of the podcast and a major article on AI policy careers.

  • We published 354 vacancies on the job board, and these listings sent more than 23K clicks through to hiring organisations.

  • We continued to redraft key landing pages for the site, releasing an update to the career reviews page (which was just a list of career reviews before, and was causing misunderstandings about our views) and making progress on a major update for the career guide, which is due for release in April. We also soft-launched our new topic archive, which will make it easier for users to find our most relevant content.

  • We continued to develop headhunting, and especially worked on several key positions in AI policy.

We’ll write more about these in our annual review.

Plan for bout 2

  • Research: Continuing to release podcasts. We intend to focus more on guests from the effective altruism community delivering key messages rather than growing traffic.

  • Web: Release a major update to the career guide, which will be more useful and appealing to our core audience, while continuing to grow the job board.

  • Advising: delivering the advice (aiming to advise ~15 people), while also putting some attention into how to improve the process (which was deprioritised for the last 6+ months).

  • Headhunting: continuing to headhunt for top organisations to get proof of concept for the programme (especially in AI policy), while setting up key headhunting systems.

  • Internal systems: Getting set up in the UK and working out a round of improvements to our impact evaluation.

Till the next update,


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