Governments are typically committed to the notion that their policies should be effective. This means that members of the effective altruist community can be in a good position to help governments reach their aims. Moreover, the fact that governments are very powerful, and control significant proportions of world GDP, suggests that helping policy-makers can be a high-value strategy. This strategy can be pursued either from the outside—by effective altruist organizations which advise policy-makers—or from the inside—by policy-makers who try to do the most good possible.
The effective altruism community has worked on a number of high-priority areas through policy means, including criminal justice reform, education reform, macroeconomic stabilization, land-use reform, existential risk, global poverty, animal welfare and evidence-based policy.
Bowerman, Niel. 2014. Good policy ideas that won’t happen (yet).
A look at the viability of changing public policy on certain issues.
Clough, Emily. 2015. Effective altruism’s political blind spot.
An example of one of the main criticisms of effective altruism: that it paid insufficient attention to political advocacy in the past.
Farquhar, Sebastian. 2016. Should EAs do policy?
A talk at EA Global 2016 with an overview of why policy work might be effective..
Global Priorities Project. 2015. New UK aid strategy – prioritising research and crisis response.
An example of effective altruist policy work.
Karnofsky, Holden. 2013. The track record of policy-oriented philanthropy.
Articles on Open Philanthropy about policy and philanthropy.
Open Philanthropy Project. 2016. U.S. policy.
The Philanthropy Project's assesment of policy as a focus area