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Action for Happiness

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▲ Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Please note, our full report on Action for Happiness (AfH) was last updated in 2020 and refers to outdated programs. The below summary is accurate as of November 2022.

Action for Happiness (AfH) is a UK-based charity that brings people together in small, face-to-face groups to explore what really matters for a happy and meaningful life. Founders Pledge recommends AfH as an evidence-based charity with a strong track record. They use an innovative integrated model, combining behavior change nudges and community building. Our evaluation finds their interventions to be a highly cost-effective way of improving people's wellbeing.

What do they do?

AfH helps people live happy and meaningful lives, through various means, including a 6-week Happiness Habits course, and a 10-day digital course. AfH is seeking funding to scale-up both courses, with a target of over 3,000 people annually taking part in Happiness Habits, and 50,000 taking the digital course, by 2025.

AfH aims to increase wellbeing through three main channels:

  1. Happiness Habits - A hybrid, 6-week course building on lessons learned from Exploring What Matters, a previous in-person course run by AfH;
  2. 10 Days of Happiness - a 10-day online program to boost participants’ wellbeing via daily actions;
  3. Community Engagement - beyond the value of the above programs, there are likely benefits from being an engaged member of the Action for Happiness community.

In addition, AfH hosts talks, supports local groups, and provides additional resources on actions to increase happiness and wellbeing.

Is there evidence the intervention works?

Happiness Habits is based upon Exploring What Matters, a previous AfH course. Exploring What Matters showed positive effects on wellbeing in a published randomized controlled trial (RCT). AfH routinely collects data on participants’ wellbeing before and after taking part in its courses, and has found similar effect sizes between Exploring What Matters and Happiness Habits. This suggests the two courses are broadly comparable. AfH also measures participants’ wellbeing before vs after the 10-day digital course, and from being engaged vs not engaged with the community. While are less certain about the size of benefits from the 10-day course or being involved in the community, we ultimately believe they both have a positive causal impact on wellbeing.

Is the intervention cost-effective?

We estimated the cost-effectiveness of AfH in terms of life satisfaction, measured on a 0-10 scale. One wellbeing-adjusted life year (WELLBY) is one year of life with an additional point of life satisfaction, on the 0-10 scale.

We estimated cost-effectiveness as follows:

MetricConservative estimateBest guess estimateOptimistic estimate
Cost per WELLBY$834$137$33

What are the wider benefits?

The Exploring What Matters course also improves other subjective wellbeing measures, such as compassion, worthwhileness and anxiety, and increases self-reported measures of social trust and pro-social behavior. By running these courses and other related activities, AfH is building a movement for happiness and pro-sociality.

Is it a strong organization?

AfH has a strong track record, with 11+ years of experience. They have developed a strategy and innovative integrated model combining behavior change nudges and community-building, taking people from initial engagement (e.g. social media and action calendars) through to deeper and more lasting forms of engagement (e.g. courses and volunteering). AfH takes a keen interest in measuring the effects of its programs on participants through RCTs and other measurements.

Notes

  1. Previously, Founders Pledge recommended AfH’s “Exploring What Matters”, an 8-week in-person course. The Covid-19 pandemic forced AfH to pivot towards a larger online offering. Happiness Habits is the successor course to Exploring What Matters.

  1. What do they do?
  2. Is there evidence the intervention works?
  3. Is the intervention cost-effective?
  4. What are the wider benefits?
  5. Is it a strong organization?
  6. Notes

    About the author

    Portrait

    Tom Barnes

    Applied Researcher

    Tom joined Founders Pledge in September 2021 as a Junior Researcher. He studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Warwick, getting involved with the Effective Altruism university group. After graduating in July 2021, he interned with Rethink Priorities, researching various longtermist causes.

    Outside of EA, he enjoys philosophy chats, maps and cats.