In 2021, my friends often asked me if the global pandemic was better or worse for effective altruists than for others. I have two perspectives on this - the first is that maybe it was a little better because we were prepared for it in a way. The media around the world repeated the phrases "nobody counted on it" and "we couldn't have been prepared for it". But Effective Altruists was one of the few communities in the world that had long been aware of the risk of a global pandemic, so we weren't really surprised. On the other hand, put yourself in the position of having perceived something as a big problem for many years, as a danger to be avoided, and devoting a lot of time and energy to trying to prevent it (many of us literally can't sleep). Now imagine that this fear of yours begins to be realized. Slowly and creepingly so that it is not yet clear how bad it will eventually get. Even the darkest scenarios are looming that others are completely unaware of, and you are watching global unpreparedness and incompetence cost many lives every day.
I'm proud of our members - for their calm and pragmatic approach, where they were able to look after themselves at the beginning. In a metaphor often used by mental health professionals, they put on a mask for themselves first, and once they had enough oxygen again, they threw themselves into helping others - whether in our community or globally. I tried to help promote the masks around the world at a time when the Czech Republic was one of the few Western countries where wearing them was widespread. Our long-time member and past president, Jan Kulveit (aka "the Czech scientist from Oxford"), first set about modeling the evolution of the pandemic (in which many of our members participated) and later bravely took the path of public communication and cooperation with the government and state apparatus. Many of our members wrote texts, informed the public and their loved ones, shared tips for better mental health and supported each other. Once again, it showed how important the role of the community is in crisis situations and what an exceptional group of people we have in the association. The Czech EA community is not "just" a group of smart, capable and sensitive people who are working hard to change the world for the better, but it is the base that stabilizes us and gives us the support and strength to keep going.
That's why we have tried to keep our community activities alive during the pandemic and will continue to do so over the winter. If you'd like to participate, check out what's happening on our calendar or on Facebook. If you would like to get involved in the running of the society or in our projects, you can write to us.
If you're interested in how we decide what to work on and how we think about the impact of our work, I recommend our updated Strategy. The core of the strategy has remained the same for many years, although we have returned to it repeatedly and are constantly trying to improve it. This year we have again made adjustments that more accurately articulate some of our goals, and we have also reflected on our role in the global EA community and our impact on the world. Our strategy should give you a sense of our thinking, our models of the world, and our future direction.
However, we need financial resources to implement our strategy and to carry out our planned projects. Although we regularly receive a Community Building grant from the Centre for Effective Altruism, this grant will only cover community activities, which are only part of our costs - we have to fund all other projects from other sources.
This year has been financially challenging for everyone and many organizations and people are in need of financial assistance. In addition, fewer people in today's situation have sufficient financial reserves to support others. Despite all of this, if you plan to donate a portion of your income this year and our current activities and strategy make sense to you, a financial donation can help us grow and accomplish our goals in the coming year.
There are many effective organizations vying for your money this year. GiveWell currently recommends four organizations that it rates as highly effective. You can also contribute to EA Funds, where experienced managers will redistribute your contribution to effective projects and individuals, or participate in the EA Donor Lottery, where you can decide how to use a large amount of money if you win. If you want to deduct your donations from your taxes, you can donate through the Czech page on Effektiv-Spenden. However, many donors prefer to spread their contributions across a portfolio that has varying degrees of risk and future potential for positive impact. Donors send some money to established organizations where impact is relatively certain - then some to organizations that are riskier but have great potential. We modestly think that we are one of those. In our Strategy, you'll find the reasons why we think we're part of a global ecosystem of EA organizations that can move the EA movement and the world for the better.
Financial contributions are mostly used for the preparatory phase and incubation of new projects, in the form of short-term positions for our members working on the project until it grows sufficiently to raise money from major donors. Smart and innovative people continue to be our most valuable resource, which is why we want to invest most of our resources in them.
So if you would like to include the Society for Effective Altruism in your donation portfolio this year, you can send us a donation via an online payment gateway or by bank transfer - either as a one-off payment or you can set up a regular payment (e.g. every month). Contact Vojta Brynych to confirm your donation for tax return purposes. If you want to turn your donation into a gift for someone else, we will issue you a beautiful gift certificate.
Thank you in advance for all your contributions. We will use them, how else but for maximum impact!
Bývalá předsedkyně Spolku pro efektivní altruismus