When I was young, I used to wish for “Happiness for everyone forever”. Always. Whenever I was about to blow out birthday candles or saw my first star of the night, I would wish for happiness for everyone forever. I never really told anyone this, because I was pretty sure that that wasn't how you were supposed to do wishes – you were supposed to ask for normal things like a bike and change your wish every time – but I wanted to use all my wishing power on what really mattered.
At the age of sixteen, I came across Peter Singer's work. It seemed to me to make so much beautiful sense, although there was only one other person in my philosophy class who was a fellow fan. I started running the college Activists' Society (affectionately known as “Save The World Club”) and decided to try to get into Oxford and eventually become the next Peter Singer.
In Oxford I met the next Peter Singer. Toby Ord had just started Giving What We Can and I was so excited to find more fans of Peter's work there, although by the time I found Giving What We Can, I was already helping to run Oxford's anti-genocide society (chosen because being the victim of a genocide was the worst state I could imagine). So I pared down my involvement with the anti-genocide group and switched universities so that I could spend more time on more valuable and enjoyable work with Giving What We Can. I set up the Oxford chapter and ended up managing all of their chapters worldwide.
In the summer of 2012, my friend Matt Wage (who I used to work with at Giving What We Can) was starting full-time employment and needed someone to continue trying to set up The Life You Can Save as an organization for him. I happily stepped up to the challenge. Why? I don't want anyone to be suffering in extreme poverty any more. I want people to care about helping each other, and helping each other effectively. And I want fans of Peter's work to immediately be able to find out that there are better ways to choose a charity to support than taking a guess at which one tries to help the people who are suffering the most, that there are better ways to choose a career than doing whatever your role model did and that there are a bunch of like-minded people nearby who you can form wonderful friendships with.
My ultimate dream is still for everyone to be happy forever. But a sub-dream is that every person who discovers the awesomeness of effective altruism, like my sixteen-year-old self, will be able to plug into a global movement that helps them realize their dreams.