Please note that the content displayed is an initial outline and is due to change, as we just started to explore workplace/professional groups. Don’t hold back on giving feedback – your comments could help community members to decide on what to work on or improve existing ideas, so it could be essential.

This post is a part of a sequence:

These posts result from a consulting project for the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA), which was realized as an initiative to explore the potential of Effective Altruism workplace/professional groups. However, even though financially supported by CEA the content of these posts does not necessarily map CEA’s strategy or imply any future strategic decisions or CEA investments. The views expressed don’t always represent those of the authors and/or contributors and their employers. 

Summary

  • Considerations for formulating your Theory of Change include thinking about bottlenecks in the EA community, your comparative advantage, the value you bring to your members, cause areas and EA organizations among other things (Read more)
  • We encourage you to think about the status quo of the EA movement (e.g., the skill gap) and groups landscape to inform your Theory of Change
    • Key EA-aligned organizations struggle to find people with the right fit
    • Focusing on creating and retaining highly engaged EAs seems especially promising to generate the most impact across groups
    • University groups seem to be particularly successful in creating highly engaged EAs (Read more)
  • Goals (and activities), which groups could prioritize:
    • Retain highly engaged EAs by creating a community
    • Help community members optimize the use of their time to have more impact
      • Support members of the wider EA community (esp. students) with career decisions
      • Help members of a workplace/professional group to continuously transition towards more direct work outside the current org
      • Help community members to transition to a new internal role within their organization
      • Provide options for high impact volunteering
    • Help community members to have more impact with their money
    • Do strategic outreach and/or be a positive welcoming first point of contact for people, who haven’t yet heard about EA (Read more)
  • While we think that it’s very valuable to explore a top-down perspective, we also want to encourage you to start by testing your hypothesis (Read more)

Non-exhaustive considerations when formulating your Theory of Change 

  • What can you and your group do to work on some of the bottlenecks and challenges EA is currently facing (e.g., skill gap, retention of people)? For example, hiring the right people is a crucial activity for every EA organization and an important predictor for their impact as well as a very time-consuming activity (for both sides). So it’s extremely valuable for everyone involved if you can make the right match between employee and employer. Find some thoughts on the status quo of EA and EA groups below for inspiration
  • How can you have the most impact with your group? What’s the Theory of Change of your group? Find a long list of potential goals and activities below for inspiration
  • What’s the comparative advantage of your group?
  • What’s the value your group provides to its
    • Members (e.g., for the Effective Altruism Consulting Network (EACN) members, it’s networking, being inspired & motivated by others, learning how to apply EA at the workplace)
    • Other EA organizations (e.g., regarding the EACN, EA organizations like OpenPhil, Charity Entrepreneurship and CEA reported that they are most excited about getting support to hire former consultants; EA organizations might benefit from people with a consulting skill set even if they aren’t highly engaged EAs in the first place)
    • And to sentient beings in general?
  • What are possible synergies with other groups/EA organizations? How can you scale your activities?
  • When you look at your group in 2030: What does it look like?
  • When you look back in 2030: What were the most likely things that could go wrong? What can you do now to fix them?
  • What can you learn from existing groups?

Thinking about the status quo of the EA movement and the EA groups landscape 

  • Historically, money has grown faster than talent leading to a funding overhang
  • Key EA-aligned organizations struggle to find people with the right fit as
    • There are too few people ready who hit the ground running
    • There are too few organizations with the capability of turning someone with high potential, but little working experience into someone who can independently drive their projects
  • There are several kinds of EA groups with different comparative advantages (expectations plausible):
    • University groups (create highly engaged EAs, as young people (<25 years old) have historically been most willing to change their mind towards EA ideas, e.g., EA Stanford)
    • Local (city / national) groups (bring EAs together and enable synergies across EAs from different fields, e.g., EA Germany)
    • Cause area groups (bring EAs together to focus on prioritized problems, e.g., Animal Welfare)
    • Identity groups (bring EAs together who share a similar identity, e.g., Jews in EA)
    • Interest groups (bring EAs together, who share similar interests, e.g., EA & climbing)
    • Workplace/professional groups (bring EAs together who work in the same workplace/profession, e.g., EA Finance)
  • Focusing on creating and retaining highly engaged EAs seems especially promising to generate the most impact across groups
  • In contrast to other groups, workplace/professional groups
    • Are promising to support retention, esp. as there’s the risk of value drift away from EA
    • Deal even more with time constraints
    • Have the potential to be more focused on specific topics
    • Have the potential to influence more senior people and institutions

Potential goals and activities for workplace/professional groups to inform your Theory of Change

We use asterisks (*) to highlight goals and activities, which are probably impactful for all workplace/professional groups based on the aforementioned considerations. We also drew on ideas from existing workplace/professional groups, as well as interviews with members of some leading EA organizations. 

We believe that these goals and activities build the core of most EA workplace/professional groups. The impact a group can have with the other goals will probably vary significantly more between groups (e.g., donations of individuals are much more relevant for the EA Finance group than for the Effective Altruism Consulting Network).

Feel free to prioritize. Not all activities must be done in the beginning. You can also outsource a lot of them to volunteers, pay someone to do it for you or apply for funding to pay for FTEs, events, spaces, etc.
 

Overall objective: direct resources (money and time) to EA cause areas 
 

1. Retain highly engaged EAs by creating a community*

  • Invite people to sign up for a newsletter/to join the group, send automatically generated welcome messages and regularly share relevant content (e.g., copy the EACN newsletter)*
  • Establish a communication channel (e.g., a Facebook group, a Slack space like this one)*
  • Plan regular meetings online & offline, and integrate into work life (e.g., “lunch & learns”)*
  • Provide an easy point of contact (e.g., via your website and in the EA resource hub)
  • Organize events where members have 1-1s (e.g., look at this 1-1 guide)*
  • Set up a directory to create transparency on your group members*
  • Offer 1-1s (e.g., for new members, to connect members with relevant people and ideas)*
  • Organize retreats*
  • Be a node for other EA organizations to discuss topics regarding your workplace/ profession*
  • Have regular conversations about cutting edge topics (e.g., book groups, articles)
  • Organize get-togethers at EAG events
  • Invite speakers (e.g., High Impact Professionals to give a pitch on how to do the most good as a professional)

2. Help community members optimize the use of their time to have more impact* 

2.1 Support members of the wider EA community (esp. students) with career decisions*

  • Create an in-depth career guide for your profession incl. considerations to enter career path, high-impact things to do while you are in the career path, exit opportunities based on interviews/case studies (e.g., look at this example from the EACN)*
  • Have someone who’s available for 1-1s with students (e.g., the EACN mentions Jan-Willem as student career advisor on their website)*
  • Reach out to EA university groups to see if there’s potential for collaboration
  • Aim website at students (not only working professionals)

2.2 Help members of a workplace or professional group to continuously transition towards more direct work outside the current org* 

  • Offer career advice (e.g., in your newsletter, your website and other channels)*
  • Share inspirational stories of people who made a successful transition*
  • Have an overview of the career plans of your members so you can connect them quickly with relevant opportunities*
  • Refer high-potentials to 80,000 hours if you feel like you can’t answer all the questions*
  • Be a trusted talent scout that can recommend the right people to other EA organizations for full-time and volunteering positions*

2.3 Help community members to transition to a new internal role within their organization

  • Selected points from above apply
  • Organize talks on industry-specific EA-aligned career options (provide a summary for especially time constraint community members)

2.4 Provide options for high impact volunteering 

  • Consider volunteering options for your group, but also potentially offer skilled volunteering to other EA organizations. Volunteering activities could include:
    • Organizing meet-ups and other activities
    • Influencing organizations
    • Sharing unique insights or skills with the EA community as well as offering skills and expertise to EA organizations
  • Create transparency on ongoing activities, open volunteering opportunities and ways to get involved e.g., with a Trello Board
  • Give you members responsibilities instead of tasks (e.g., being head of events for one year)

3. Help community members to have more impact with their money

  • Share relevant resources and inspirational stories about effective giving
  • Bring high-impact donors together
  • Invite One for the World or Giving What We Can to give a talk on effective giving or do one on your own

4. Do strategic outreach and/or be a positive first point of contact for people who haven’t heard about EA 

 

We appreciate that it’s extremely valuable to have the top-down view and spend time thinking about the Theory of Change, but

  • We would also encourage you to get started, even though you might have some uncertainties. There’s almost no start-up that got everything right in the beginning. We all just need to test things and learn
  • Your Theory of Change is also very likely to change esp. depending on the members you attract and want to retain
  • It’s also substantial to build psychological momentum with some quick wins

What’s next?

Acknowledgements

Aaron Gertler, Alex Barnes, Alex Igna, David Nash, Devon Fritz, Federico Speziali, Jan-Willem van Putten, Joan Gass, Max Dalton, Meg Tong, Rob Gledhill, Simon Asbach, Tobias Jolly and Zachary Robinson: We would like to express our great appreciation for your thoughts and feedback.

Definitions

Workplace/professional groups

An EA workplace group is a community of people who work for the same institution. An EA professional group is a community of people who work in the same field and therefore have the same or a similar profession – they don’t necessarily have to work for the same employer.

Highly Engaged EAs (HEAs)

Highly engaged EA (HEA) is the metric that CEA uses to understand community building, and being a HEA is a very high bar. It’s someone who takes a significant action, based on high-quality reasoning, and impartially altruistic principles. For example, they made a career decision based on EA principles.

They can be, but don’t have to be active group members.

Active group members

People who are actively engaging, e.g., organize and attend events and generally engage with EA ideas. Please note that these don’t have to be the most impactful group members

Theory of Change (ToC)

Our understanding of a Theory of Change is aligned with Charity Entrepreneurship’s definition: It’s a comprehensive description and illustration of how activities can lead to the desired goal.

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