Retention in EA - Part II: Possible Projects

by Ben_West2 min read5th Feb 20213 comments


Centre for Effective AltruismOrg StrategyValue driftCommunity


  • This post contains possible projects CEA could undertake to address the concerns listed in the previous post. These are intended as ideas that we are sharing for the purpose of generating feedback – we almost certainly will not be doing all of these, and may not do any of them.
  • I believe that the primary focus of CEA’s retention efforts should be broad efforts that aren’t specifically targeted towards a retention risk. For example: we should continue to run EA Global because making connections, watching motivating talks, etc. help retain many people, even though it’s not precisely targeted at a specific retention risk.
  • Some fraction of our retention efforts (maybe 10%) should be focused on projects targeting a specific risk. Possible ideas are listed in this post.

Project list

Note: the “example subprojects” are intended to illustrate what the project means, they are not intentions of actually doing the project

Supporting alternative career paths

Project idea: 80,000 Hours has clarified its limited scope, and other organizations are supporting career decisions in other paths, and communities within those paths. CEA is unlikely to have comparative advantage in something like career counseling, but we may be able to provide infrastructure or support to other groups, or help connect individuals.

Example subproject: encourage people who have been successful at non-80k-priority paths to post case studies on the EA Forum.

Helps with: can’t find a way to contribute, career benefits, having responsibilities, learning important things.

Make Connections Easier

Project idea: somehow make it easier for engaged EAs to identify peers who share their interests.

Example subprojects: support a directory like the EA Hub’s.

Helps with: social, career benefits, can’t find a way to contribute

Project idea: a surprising number of people who I speak to mention a large benefit from hearing Will MacAskill comment that he had anxiety dreams about posting on the EA Forum. Publishing more stories of what being in the EA is actually like, including emotional difficulties, may help engaged EAs who are struggling to realize they are not alone. Some EAs may not engage in self-care because they thought burnout/mental health concerns don’t/shouldn’t apply to people as dedicated/involved/whatever as them, and sharing more stories would clarify this.

Example subprojects: encourage “prestigious” EAs to share personal stories.[1]

Helps with: burnout/mental health

Keep people connected across transitions

Project idea: major life events, such as moving to a new city or becoming a parent, may cause people to disconnect from EA. Connecting these people to EAs in that new community may help them stay engaged.

Example subprojects: connect graduating university students with EA groups in the city they are moving to after graduation.

Helps with: stepping back after big life events.

Not shortlisted

There is obviously a long list of things that we are not doing, but there are a few which seem worth pointing out explicitly as things we are unlikely to do:

Supporting earning to give

Not listed by many people

GWWC does some of this already

CE might incubate an organization to do this


Hard to do well

Some successful projects already: CEA Events Fellowships, WANBAM

Make micrograntsNot CEA’s comparative advantage.


  1. One comment on video content, as this is a hobbyhorse of mine: 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers believe that their favorite YouTube creator understands them better than their friends do. Video (in particular a certain type of amateur video) seems substantially better at causing the viewer to relate to the subject than written text. Several of the above projects are driven by wanting EAs to relate to stories, successes, etc. and I think we should consider doing more of that in video.


3 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 9:09 PM
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Regarding helping people with major life transitions, I just wanted to mention that there is a (reasonably active) Parents in Effective Altruism Facebook group! We are also keen to hear from people who are not parents yet, but are considering becoming parents in the future.

There are a lot of Facebook groups exist because there is an obvious niche but don't really have enough quality content to justify themselves, but the Parents group is actually pretty good; I definitely recommend if you're a parent and want to chat with similar other people.