Hi everyone, this is an update about Effective Altruism Global X (EAGx) — the locally-organised international conference series for the Effective Altruism community. In this post, I will share a quick summary of the EAGx events that have taken place this year and provide some insight into plans for 2020.
The value of EAGx
EAGx conferences help us to coordinate as a community. They help to:
- Spread a high-fidelity understanding of EA concepts and culture
- Increase attendees’ motivation and access to resources within the community in order to increase the amount of good they can do
EAGx attendees report that one of the greatest sources of value from the conference comes via connecting with other attendees. As such, we encourage organisers to help facilitate networking during EAGx, for example via meetups, side events, and one-on-one meetings.
In addition to this primary audience, EAGx can also provide other significant benefits to the wider community by a) helping to maintain the motivation of ‘core’ members of the community, b) providing EAGx organisers an opportunity to improve their skills and networks and c) helping to launch new EA projects (e.g. the Happier Lives Institute at EAGx Netherlands 2018) and local communities (e.g. Czech EA via EAGx Prague 2016).
CEA’s Events team plan to publish a forum post in the next few months sharing their thoughts on events for the community. The aim is to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality events that are tailored to their needs.
With this in mind, the primary audience of EAGx conferences is people who are aware of the core ideas of effective altruism, and who want to engage more deeply with the concepts and get more involved with the community. (In reference to CEA’s Funnel Model, you might think of these people as ‘followers’, and so the intention of EAGx is to help move them to ‘participants’ or ‘contributors’.)
Unlike EA Global, EAGx conferences don’t require attendees to submit an application to attend. This makes them accessible to any member of the community who would like to improve their understanding and connections.
This means that, although the conferences are not intended for people completely new to effective altruism, someone who began their EA journey relatively recently should still be able to enjoy, understand and benefit from the programming.
Summary of 2019
CEA provided grant funding and support for three EAGx conferences in 2019:
- EAGx Nordics in Stockholm, Sweden (5-7 April)
- EAGx Boston on the East Coast, USA (27-28 April)
- EAGx Australia in Sydney, Australia (28-29 September)
This year, we ensured organisers shared the same post-event survey with attendees so that we had uniform data across all three conferences. The initial results are promising:
- Attendee numbers were strong (all conferences sold out in advance):
- EAGxNordics - 220
- EAGxBoston - ~200
- EAGxAustralia - 250
- In response to the statement ‘EAGx helps me make new friends’, the majority of attendees were positive:
Similarly, responses to the statement ‘EAGx keeps me motivated to do good’ were very positive:
When asked whether attendees’ plans changed in any way as a result of the conference, most respondents saw their plans change in some way, although significant plan changes were understandably rare (though EAGx Australia saw a greater number of significant plan changes):
These reported plan changes mostly consisted of updates to ‘career plans’, ‘involvement in the EA community’ and ‘working on new projects’.
Net promoter scores (an events industry measurement also used by TEDx) were high. What industry considers good may not necessarily translate to what EAGx should consider good but it's worth noting that a score above 0 is usually considered good and 50+ is excellent:
- EAGxNordics - 45%
- EAGxBoston - 50%
- EAGxAustralia - 48%
These are just preliminary measures (rather than measures of the changes that come from these events), and we’ll need to complete further analysis to get a better understanding of the conferences’ ultimate impact. This could involve following up with respondents to better understand these reported plan changes and find out how (if at all) EAGx conference attendance has impacted them long term.
Plans for 2020
In 2020, I expect that our overall strategy for EAGx will remain largely the same and that we will likely fund a total of four EAGx conferences throughout the year across the following locations:
- USA (East Coast)
These locations have been prioritised as they have established and active EA populations, though we’re also open to considering applications from locations other than those listed above.
In 2020, we also intend to increase our investment (in terms of budget and staff time) in EAGx organiser support. This will be provided by CEA’s Events team, as they have substantial knowledge and experience to share from producing EA Global conferences.
For example, in addition to the support we already provide (such as monthly one-on-one calls with organisers), we expect to add:
- A new EAGx ‘playbook’ with best practices for organisers
- An event planning retreat for organisers in early to mid January 2020
- Access to a single event tech platform which includes ticketing, website and event app
Organising an EAGx conference can be a pivotal experience for EAs considering careers in event production, operations, and communications. I’m excited for these improvements to ensure a better experience for organisers, and to increase the overall quality of event production.
Applying to host an EAGx
Applications for 2020 are open now! The application process starts with you answering a few basic questions on this form. The deadline for completing this form is Friday 1st November.
After receiving this information, we’ll contact you via email to discuss whether you should follow up with a full application. If so, we’ll request that you complete a template document with more detailed information and book a call with us. Decisions will be made on a rolling basis, but I expect all funding to be allocated by the end of November.
In anticipation of some frequently-asked-questions, here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of the kinds of things we look for:
Location — We expect conferences to be hosted in regions with a strong or growing EA population, such that they can attract 150+ attendees (hence the list above). Individuals in smaller or newer local groups will likely be better suited to a different type of activity. I recommend that you coordinate with others in your local area before applying — if you’re not sure if there are already plans for an application in your local area, feel free to fill in the 'expression of interest' form and I may ask to connect you with other potential organisers in your region.
Project Lead — The organising team should consist of at least three people, including one dedicated project lead who has demonstrable experience leading projects of a similar size and complexity. Previous project leads have included: local EA group leaders, a professional event producer, a business consultant, and a CEO of a tech startup.
Core Team — All members of the core organising team should ideally have some events, operations, or other relevant experience, as well as strong knowledge of EA. They should also be committed to spending a significant amount of time on the project, especially in the 1-2 months leading up to the event (we provide stipends of $1,500 each for up to three organisers to help with this). It’s also valuable to have a strong EA network and knowledge of the local area (e.g. which EA groups and organisations might be good sources for attendees).
Strategy — Having tested and learned from various approaches in the past, we believe that most of the value of an EAGx comes from empowering people who already have some knowledge of EA to get more involved. As such, we expect that conferences organised under the EAGx brand will prioritise that goal in terms of target audience, goals, and metrics for success. However, we understand that this strategy may not work in all parts of the world, and we’re open to exploring alternative approaches to ensure maximum impact.
Planning — To organise a successful conference, organisers need to start planning at least four months in advance, ideally much more. This means that we don’t expect any EAGx conferences to take place in 2020 before March.
For further insight into what makes a good application, I recommend Evan Gaensbauer’s Consider Applying to Organise an EAGx Event post. And for more detailed insight into the practical matters involved in event production, check out this retrospective from the organisers of EAGx Boston 2018.
If you have questions or feedback, feel free to reach out to me via firstname.lastname@example.org.