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I'm also curious to hear if/when you think sending an email to all students is a bad idea, or if other ways to reach people might be more effective. I recently worked with Jack Ryan, Nikola Jurkovic, and a few others to send an email to MIT and Harvard students, but I'm curious to hear others' thoughts and don't want to anchor people. I'll add our email after a few days. (I also realize I should've probably asked around before sending our email, but we were pressed for time).

Perhaps this goes without saying, but please also (strong) upvote ideas based on how good you think they are, and explain why. 




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Before figuring out what it should say, we should ask what the goal is more specifically than "maximize impact." I expect a mass email to do very little to directly improve donations, career choices, what people believe, or how they think. So my goal for such an email would be to get students excited about the university's EA group; this seems relatively tractable.

How should we do that? I'm less sure. My college EA group recently emailed all first-year students with this goal. We included a link to get a free EA book (see here) to get students interested and for the side goal of getting EA books to interested people who otherwise wouldn't read them. We also included a brief description of EA, links to a couple relevant resources (MacAskill's TED talk, which I weakly think is the best video to get people interested in EA, and one article, which I won't mention since I'm very unsure about good intro articles), and encouraged students to apply for our Fall intro fellowship. The effect on the number of students who do the intro fellowship, by making more students aware of and interested in it, is the overwhelming source of expected value from this email.

Hi! It's a while since you posted this, I was curious if you did see an effect on fellowship signups as a result?

Zach Stein-Perlman
We did get a lot more fellowship signups and engagement that semester than previously, but I'm pretty sure we would have gotten more fellows/engagement even if the aforementioned email had been different or hadn't existed, since a co-organizer and I put a lot more energy into my college's EA group that semester than it had previously received, including other advertising. So I have no idea how much of the effect to attribute to that email. (But looking back, I still think that email was a good one.)
Adam Binks

Given I just received a link to this article in the 80,000 Hours newsletter: https://80000hours.org/make-a-difference-with-your-career/ -- that article seems like something that a lot of students might potentially be interested in. So something like a brief description of the key idea plus a link to the article would be one option.

EA UW Madison thinks of its emails as having four (sequential) goals: 

  1. Let people know this org exists
  2. Get interested people on the newsletter
  3. Get people to come to an intro event
  4. Get people to apply to the introductory fellowship

A copy of our mass email draft that we just sent out can be found here https://docs.google.com/document/d/14JQjbwWC5U8Eb82VTwozfyhrc0x_FV53n32vQuPNLas/edit?usp=sharing

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Thanks for asking this! I teach a ~400 student principles of macroeconomics course, so I am very interested in the answers people come up with (and eventually seeing the email you sent). I'd like to send something about EA after exposing them to ideas of long-run growth, the current number of people in extreme poverty, etc.

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