University/city groups

EA seeks to amplify its impact through movement-building. Organizations like 80,000 Hours and CEA are putting substantial resources into developing and expanding the EA community. Building EA groups has been at the core of this agenda, especially in elite and influential places (such as top universities). Key aims include 'creating highly engaged EAs' and encouraging people to pursue impactful careers.

Our Resource Airtable (in-progress)

Our collaborative goals

Currently, university EA groups operate in conjunction with the Centre for Effective Altruism, but with high levels of autonomy. There is only limited collaboration between groups. Such collaboration could allow them to achieve economies of scale and scope, run more systematic and powerful trials, and share insights and methods that increase student engagement.

The EAMT hopes to help coordinate this, consolidate the evidence, and provide accessible tools to newly-formed groups. We want to help avoid repeating errors and 'reinventing the wheel' each time.

EA groups at universities

The efforts and experience of individual EA groups can provide contextual evidence and insights. The EAMT aims to aggregate this knowledge, find generalizable principles, and disseminate this to the wider EA community. We are focused on meaningful medium-term outcomes, e.g.:

  1. Membership and participation in EA organizations, and markers of post-university involvement

  2. How career plans are impacted (focusing on particular programs and paths)

  3. How research and discourse at universities can be influenced

Relevant organizations and programs

The programs below also aim for generalizable principles; e.g., their 'starter toolkits' are implemented across a range of cities, universities, and settings.

Centre for Effective Altruism

CEA has discontinued its focus on university programming, passing funding and efforts on to Open Philanthropy. However, CEA is still involved in promotion through the University Group Accelerator Program (UGAP), which offers guidance and resources to newly formed groups. Furthermore, CEA's Community Building Grants (CBG) Program helps develop national and city-based groups (outside of universities).

University Group Accelerator Program

UGAP's Outreach Handbook may be the These have been summarized from different data points; some formal testing, some anecdotal, and some intuitive.

Community Building Grants Program

CBG focuses on supporting city groups, providing grants to support their activities and resources to help with expansion. These resources and support systems currently lack data supporting EA community building. (The CBG Support Survey identified this as a major bottleneck; we hope to collaborate to help them improve this.)

EA Group Organizers Survey

The EA Group Organizers Survey (2020) is a collaboration between CEA and Rethink Priorities. It analyzes the changes in EA groups yearly, with two main components:

  1. The growth and composition of EA groups and their activities

  2. The opinions of the group's status from the organizer's point of view

The first component gives insight into priorities and progress. The second can help guide our research and provide insight into the tools required by group organizers to increase group interaction and outreach.

See especially: "Events and outreach"

Open Philanthropy

The University Organizer Fellowship provides funding for part-time and full-time organizers helping with student groups focused on effective altruism, longtermism, rationality, or other relevant topics at any university (not just focus universities). This has replaced CEA's Campus Specialist and Campus Specialist Internship programs.

The Century Fellowship, a selective 2-year program that gives resources and support (including $100K+/year in funding) to particularly promising people early in their careers who want to work in areas that could improve the long-term future. (Intended partially for particularly strong Campus Specialist applicants.)

80,000 Hours

80,000 Hours is actively targeting university students and offering them guidance on high-impact career paths. (see private Gitbook, if you have access)

Further outreach

There are some further initiatives in this area but most of the material cannot be shared at the moment (see private Gitbook).

Independent group testing and coordination

In this section, we are putting together documents, trials, and knowledge currently being gathered by different EA groups. As we increase our collaboration with these groups, these trials, ideas and documents will become integrated with the Gitbook and EAMT's work, forming a basis for future work and testing.

Funnel Map

This is our basic understanding of the processes used to draw in new members to EA university groups and fellowships, and how members progress through different stages of engagement. Each stage gives us grounds for testing through the different variations of these approaches. This is not just about testing which methods work for attracting the highest number of new members (i.e., which 'call to action' to use at activity fairs, etc), but also increasing engagement and developing high-level EAs (i.e., fellowship program alternatives, discussion group topics, etc).

(Above: a preview of funnel map; see Google Doc for full description and work in progress)

Stanford University

Awaiting response from Stanford EA.

University of Chicago

Currently limited to private Gitbook.

MIT, MIT Alignment org

Currently limited to private Gitbook.

EA Israel

EA Israel's Strategy Document This discusses their strategy in-depth. A lot of their findings are not specific to Israel or country-wide EA groups. Useful as a resource for EA groups.

Useful findings will be synthesised and integrated here in the future.

Independent University Group Outreach

We have been independently contacting organizers that are known to be actively seeking to test outreach methods, and also publicly via a callout post on the EA Forum. An important aspect of the work here is to bring together people who are active in this space but working independently. The airtable below presents our current (non-exhaustive) list of groups or organisations that have relevant knowledge (strategy documents, marketing guides, etc), or have done some form of independent testing.

Writing credits for this page

Kynan Behan helped create and write this page.

  1. Thus, we hope our efforts will be valuable to these initiatives and groups, by providing and sharing evidence on successful approaches to increasing engagement.

  2. Note that the survey does not collect data from the group's *members*, although they do ask about the overall numbers of people who engaged with each group.

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