"How can I make the world better?" is a question every compassionate person has asked themselves - sometime in response to a very specific situation that involves the suffering of another, or sometimes in the abstract. For me, career choice has been part of my answer to that question. I saw two possibilities in front of me: either I make a lot of money in the for-profit world while helping (essentially) no one, or I make less money in the nonprofit world while helping others.
The compassionate individuals behind a new nonprofit called 80,000 Hours have offered a third option: make a lot of money in the for-profit world, and give most of it away.
In the your life, you will spend about 80,000 hours at work. Shouldn't you use that time to make the world better? I've chosen to work in the not-for-profit world so that my 80,000 hours are put toward helping others, rather than increasing my own wealth. But lots of compassionate people are drawn to the nonprofit sector. Even with the low wages, I've not seen charities struggle to fill open positions. But every nonprofit struggles for money.
What if more compassionate people were to take high-wage jobs, then fund the salaries of nonprofit employees? Instead of accepting a $40,000 annual salary and directly delivering services at a nonprofit, I could accept a $120,000 annual salary in the for-profit world, keep $40,000 for myself, and give $80,000 to pay TWO people to directly deliver services at a nonprofit. I could double my impact!
I haven't posted in the last year because, in addition to working full-time, I've been going to night school and studying for my CPA license. I may be leaving the nonprofit sector, and I may be earning a six-figure salary in a few years time. How I spend the rest of my 80,000 could be drastically different, and much further removed from helping others. Will I have the self-discipline to give most of my money to charity, and continue living a modest-wage lifestyle?