A career in doing good

I know there are many committed people who would like nothing more than to be able to devote themselves fulltime to animal rights, veganism, or other good causes. The problem is that it is very hard to make a living out of doing good things for the world. If you want to sell another laundry detergent, it’s relatively easy. Not so if you try to substantially make things better. Here are the possibilities you have.

  • The most obvious option is probably to find yourself a job in an existing non profit organisation. There’s not too many of them, and the positions are rather competitive as more and more people, fortunately, want that kind of job.
  • Alternatively, you can found your own non profit, and hope to get enough donations or grants to pay yourself and maybe some others a (sometimes very small) salary.
  • You can join a company that does good, or start one yourself, like a webshop.
  • You can of course become a teacher or a nurse or find some other job that can really have an impact.
  • You can try to make an income from something else, like Airbnb, so you have enough time left to do good things. A great book I recommend is The 4-hour workweek, which is about finding an earning model that leaves you with as much time as possible to do what  you really want.
  • Or you can just go for any high paying job and give part of your big salary to good causes, an idea which is called “earning to give” (I will write more about that and other effective altruism concepts at a later point).

Of course, you might be happy by just volunteering a part of your time, after hours, to a good cause. Obviously though, we need people who can be committed full time too. We need organisations who have the money to pay as many full time staff as possible, staff who can then profit from each others’ expertise, from the outreach channels and the network that the organisation has, from learning opportunities…

In case you’re interested, in the talk below, which I gave at an Effective Altruism congress in Basel, Switserland (sept 2015), I tell a bit of my own personal story, and how I got into animal rights and veganism, founded an organisation, and then left it do be on my own again.