Organizing an effective altruism group can be rewarding and impactful, but also challenging. One of the challenges that effective altruism groups face is that there are many potential goals they could aim for, such as fundraising for effective charities, spreading awareness of effective altruism, and developing the understanding and skills of group members, and it can be unclear how to choose between these objectives.
The Effective Altruism Community Building Guide discusses general features of effective altruism and the effective altruism community, and on this basis presents the following as a key aim for effective altruism groups: finding and fostering the development of people who are highly dedicated to, have a sophisticated understanding of, and have skills relevant to ‘doing the most good’, and integrating these people into the broader effective altruism community.
The guide acts as a starting point for thinking about effective altruism community building, and also provides recommendations for further reading. The Centre for Effective Altruism's strategy section provides the background reasoning and context for the approach outlined in the guide.
Just as there is a wide variety of possible goals that an effective altruism group might pursue, there is also a wide variety of activities than it might run in order to achieve these goals.
A Model of an EA Group, written by Charlie Rogers-Smith, uses the concept of an engagement funnel to identify different types of activities within an effective altruism group, and gives suggestions on both how to prioritize between different types of activities and use metrics to measure their success. For a similar approach, see the Effective Altruism Foundation's How to Run an EA Local Group: A Concrete Model.
The Activities and Projects list gives a short list of possible EA group activities and projects, including discussion groups, career planning sessions, retreats and research projects, which are well suited to achieving the aims outlined in the EA Community Building Guide. For more general tips on running an EA Group, see Heuristics from Running Harvard and Oxford EA Groups.
Additionally, see here for effective altruism resources for guiding discussion groups and meetings.
In order to support EA Groups in pursuing these aims, CEA provides funding and mentorship for groups’ projects. This funding and mentorship comes in two forms: group-focused and project-focused.
Group-focused support is designed to assist groups with the building of infrastructure and capacity necessary to make the group a success. This includes finding organizing members, developing an organizational structure etc.
Project-focused support is designed to assist groups to pursue specific aims related to their goals. The structure of project-focused support encourages groups to adopt concrete, time-bound goals and success conditions, and to conduct reviews of their progress relative to these goals. This is intended to help groups be as successful as possible in pursuing their aims, as well as enabling them to more easily learn from the experiences of others.
More information about the support CEA provides for effective altruism groups and projects can be found in the Funding and Mentorship Guide.
If you are interested in starting a new effective altruism group, please fill in this form.
The Local Effective Altruism Network, a project of Rethink Charity, also offers group support including one-to-one mentoring and web hosting.
CEA, and LEAN collectively manage the Effective Altruism Group Organizers facebook group.