The EA events ecosystem (for organizers): How to get more involved

by AmyLabenz, BarryGrimes 3 min read27th Jan 2020No comments

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As members of CEA’s events team, we wrote this post to call for readers who have experience with EA to consider running their own events.

We’ve heard hundreds of stories from people whose lives changed because they met up with other community members, whether at an EAGx or a casual conversation over coffee. We’d like to see even more such stories, so we’re advocating for the community to welcome new people with an even broader selection of events. 

If you have questions or thoughts on anything written here, please leave a comment or contact us via this form. We’d love to help you find ways to get involved.

Looking to run events?

If you’d like to help more people get involved in community events, we suggest:

Setting up 1-on-1s

Organizing group activities can be difficult, but there are also lower-commitment ways to welcome people into the community one at a time. 

For example, you could:

  1. Sign up for the EA Pen Pals program, which matches participants from many different backgrounds for conversations about effective altruism. See here for more details on the project.
  2. Create a profile on EA Hub, including your city and a way to contact you, so that newcomers in your area can reach out to you.
  3. If you have a lot of experience in research or direct work, consider holding an EA residency (spending an extended period in a city and meeting with people when you aren’t working).
  4. If you are a woman or non-binary person, consider signing up to mentor EA newcomers through the WANBAM project.

Finally, if you’re part of an EA group already, consider whether any of the group’s new members might be interested in a meeting. Joining group discussions can be intimidating; someone who comes to an event and doesn’t engage much might get more out of a two-person conversation. And if you want to do this more formally, leaders from EA Oxford have written an excellent guide to organizing productive one-on-ones for group members.

Starting a group (or just holding an event)

If there isn’t a group in your area and you’d like to start one, CEA’s groups team would be happy to help. 

Fill out this form to get started, and consider reading through our list of resources for EA groups, as well as this guide on the EA Hub.

Every group is different, and there are many different events you can arrange as a group leader. EA Hub’s guide to running events is a great resource. 

That said, you don’t need to run a group to hold an event. If you know people you think would be interested in attending something you organized, but you don’t want to commit to running a group, you can just… organize something. Hold a Giving Game during the holiday season when people are thinking about donations anyway. Host a vegan barbecue to show off the latest meat-free burger technology. As long as people can find it online (ideally by using “effective altruism (CITY NAME)” as a search term), you’re contributing to the vibrancy of the EA events ecosystem!

We’ll also address a few other common misconceptions about running events:

  1. Events don’t have to be formal. Just because something is an “EA meetup,” doesn’t mean it has to be all about EA. Casual dinners, game nights, and other social events can be a great way to build relationships with people who share some of your core values.
  2. Events don’t have to be regular. Many groups have weekly dinners or monthly debates, but it’s fine if your events are sporadic, as long as you communicate well with people who might want to attend. Keep an eye out for one-time opportunities in your area (someone holds an EA residency, a charity runs its own meetup, the local university hosts an EA-relevant speaker, an “EA Holiday” is coming up, etc.)
    1. You can find one-off speakers by checking out speaker lists from CEA and the EA Hub.
    2. Giving Games are a common one-off event for groups; they’re a great way to invite people who aren’t familiar with EA (because the whole activity is self-contained). The Life You Can Save has produced a very thorough manual for how to run them.
  3. Events don’t have to be perfect. There are many ways you can prepare ahead of time to hold a great event (see the guide above). But even if the food gets delivered late, the venue closes early, or the conversation hits an awkward pause, it’s likely that attendees will still enjoy themselves — and you’ll gain valuable experience at the same time.
  4. Many forms of help are available. As noted above, CEA’s groups team is happy to answer questions about logistics and best practices. In addition, our community health team (Julia and Sky) can help out with a variety of other topics, including:
    1. How to make your event or group more welcoming
    2. Handling media inquiries about your event or group
    3. Addressing other interpersonal concerns

Hosting an EAGx conference

Please apply to CEA if you want to host an EAGx in your city. Applications for 2020 are closed, but it’s not too early to start considering 2021 if you think you might be able to get a team together in a promising location. 

See this post to get a sense for what CEA looks for in an application. And if you have any questions, reach out to director@eaglobalx.org.

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