The Effective Altruism Handbook

Lots of people want to help others but lack information about how to do so effectively. Thanks to the growing effective altruism movement, lots of essays have been written around the topic of charity effectiveness over the last five years. And many of the key insights are gathered together in the Effective Altruism Handbook, which has become available today.

The Effective Altruism Handbook includes an introduction by William MacAskill and Peter Singer followed by five sections. The first section motivates the rest of the book, giving an overview of why people care about effectiveness. The second through fourth sections address tricky decisions involved in helping others: evaluating charities, choosing a career and prioritizing causes. In the final section, the leaders of seven organizations describe why they’re doing what they’re doing, and describe the kinds of activities they consider especially helpful.

A lot of conversations have gone into picking out the materials for this compilation, so I hope you enjoy reading it! Or, for those who are already familiar with its concepts, sharing it with friends.

The Effective Altruism Handbook can be freely downloaded here.

There are also epub and mobi versions for readers using ebook devices, although their formatting has not been edited as carefully.

Thanks to all of the authors in this compilation for writing their essays in the first place, as well as for making them available for the Handbook. Thanks to Alex Vermeer from MIRI, whose experience and assistance in producing a LaTeX book was invaluable. Thanks also to Bastian Stern, the Centre for Effective Altruism, Peter Orr (for proofreading), and Lauryn Vaughan for cover design. Also, thanks kindly to Agata Sagan who is helping by making a Polish translation! It is always good to see useful ideas spread to a more linguistically diverse audience.

Lastly, here’s the full table of contents:

  • Introduction, Peter Singer and William MacAskill


  • The Drowning Child and the Expanding Circle, Peter Singer

  • What is Effective Altruism, William MacAskill

  • Scope Neglect, Eliezer Yudkowsky

  • Tradeoffs, Julia Wise


  • Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others, Scott Alexander

  • “Efficiency” Measures Miss the Point, Dan Pallotta

  • How Not to Be a “White in Shining Armor”, Holden Karnofsky

  • Estimation Is the Best We Have, Katja Grace

  • Our Updated Top Charities, Elie Hassenfeld


  • Don’t Get a Job at a Charity: Work on Wall Street William MacAskill

  • High Impact Science Carl Shulman

  • How to Assess the Impact of a Career Ben Todd


  • Your Dollar Goes Further Overseas, GiveWell

  • The Haste Consideration, Matt Wage

  • Preventing Human Extinction, Nick Beckstead, Peter Singer & Matt Wage

  • Speciesism, Peter Singer

  • Four Focus Areas of Effective Altruism, Luke Muehlhauser


  • GiveWell, GiveWell

  • Giving What We Can, Michelle Hutchinson

  • The Life You Can Save, Charlie Bresler

  • 80,000 Hours, Ben Todd

  • Charity Science, Xiomara Kikauka

  • The Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Luke Muehlhauser

  • Animal Charity Evaluators, Jon Bockman