How we promoted EA at a large tech company (v2.0)

post by jlewars · 2021-01-12T03:15:31.283Z · EA · GW · 3 comments


  Previous years (2018 & 2019)
  Year 3: 2020
  Next steps

This post is a follow up to an original post [EA · GW] about promoting EA at Microsoft


Parth’s previous post laid out the rationale for promoting EA at large tech companies: “they employ hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are financially well-off and want to help the world, but who are not aware of the effective altruism movement. Because there are already many EA folks working at these companies, and because many of these companies already have the culture and infrastructure to encourage/promote giving (ex. events, donation matching), this presents a huge opportunity to promote and build an EA mindset at these companies.”

As part of this, Microsoft EA partnered this year with One for the World, to see what the results would be when a clear call to action was included in their US Employee Giving Campaign (often called 'Give Month') presentations and outreach. The results were excellent, with 13 people (22%) starting a regular donation to GiveWell’s charities, at an annual recurring value of over $38k/year in donations, and 25 attendees (43%) contributing at least once.

Previous years (2018 & 2019)

In previous years, Parth and the team had concentrated on awareness-raising, creating an internal microsite, putting up posters about effective giving, sending out promotional emails and creating a mailing list. In 2019, they put on a talk with representatives from EA Community Projects and GiveWell, which had ~80 people in attendance.

Year 3: 2020

I reached out to the Microsoft team in early 2020 to ask if One for the World could be involved in this year’s events. We believe that One for the World’s very affordable donation amount (1% of income) has potential in corporate spaces, at least in part because it might be an easier idea to promote than the full Giving What We Can pledge. 

I have had issues before (and I know other EA organisations have had the same) with workplaces being very reluctant to ask their employees to talk about giving - so asking them for time at work to promote a 10% pledge seems like a tough sell. However, the 1% pledge seems so intuitively affordable that a lot of people are happy to bring it up with their colleagues. It helps, of course, that Microsoft has a whole month which explicitly licences people to talk to their colleagues about causes, charities and giving.

My email came at a good time, as the team wanted to build on the momentum of the previous two years. We agreed that a good way to do this would be to include a specific call to action where we could measure success (i.e. to donate) and, as part of this, to have a frictionless donation option that could be sent immediately to attendees during presentations (this was done via Benevity, Microsoft’s corporate giving site). We therefore agreed that my colleagues and I would be available for six talks, spread throughout October and covering east and west coast timezones, and that we would deliver a ‘Giving Lunch’ presentation on each occasion.

One for the World adapted the Giving Lunch idea from Ben Clifford at Tyve (arguably, we stole them with Ben’s permission, so hat-tip to Ben). It’s a simple concept - an ‘effective giving 1-0-1’ talk, delivered over a video call, with the incentive of a $10 donation to any charity of each attendee’s choice (funded by One for the World). 

We have been experimenting with these presentations since last summer and they seem to be peculiarly effective at getting people to take action. Something about the presentation seems to get people to the point where they are willing to give some money after only ~45 minutes of engagement. We also work to keep them very interactive, with a ‘pick the most effective intervention’ quiz, in-call polls and lots of audience questions/discussions throughout, which we think is appropriate for a corporate setting (rather than anything confrontational or, conversely, just boring).

Usually, we do a pre- and post-survey with some attitudinal questions, but in this case we only delivered the post-survey, to make the sign up process as seamless as possible. The post-survey does ask if people want to take the One for the World pledge, and we have done some limited email follow up to those people, but the primary mechanism for recruiting donors was posting a link to Benevity’s One for the World page at the time of the talk.


Donor typeNumber of donorsMonth 1 valueValue in year 1
One time9$4,788.75$4,788.75
StatementNumber of respondents
I already give regularly to charity33
I do not intend to give regularly to charity1
I am going to start giving regularly to charity24


FactorNumber of respondents who selected this option% of respondents who selected this option
Whether the charity operates in my local area/home country



What percentage of the charity's funds are spent on overheads



What data the charity has on its impact



How cost effective the charity is



The evidence base for the charity's method



Whether the charity uses a method that resonates with me e.g. because of my work or personal experience



Whether the charity has affected or helped someone I know




Next steps


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Jan-WillemvanPutten · 2021-01-14T08:18:59.837Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Hi great report, thanks a lot! I think this is a very inspirational case. Congrats on the results! During presentations to young professionals I always mention your initiative. 

I will reach out to you to exchange experiences.

Replies from: jlewars
comment by jlewars · 2021-01-18T02:59:49.021Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks Jan - looking forward to hearing from you!

comment by imben · 2021-01-12T12:57:16.450Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Haha, thanks for the hat tip! Delighted with this outcome! Well done!