Smaller local EA groups have the difficulty that if no one is willing to lead, the group will generally cease to exist. Since there are a number of EAs looking for volunteer opportunities, could it make sense to have a remote leader? This sounds strange because the main idea of having local groups is that in-person connection. However, I could imagine that a fair amount of the work of organizing could be done remotely and then the remote person would interface with local officers who actually run the events in person. I apologize if this has already been discussed, but I have not seen it on the EA forum.
Interesting idea! I do see some advantages to this - it seems like there are a lot of people trying to get experience working for EA-related causes, and quite a bit of those people seem interested in gaining ops experience. This seems like a good way to get those people connected with EA, and get people involved who don't currently have local communities.
One worry I have is that people who aren't going to meetups probably don't have a good sense of the culture of the local EA group and how well events are going. This could be worked around by collecting feedback from local group participants, but I think you could get much more information much more easily by being part of the meetups.
An alternative that I think might be useful: A lot of EAs have remote jobs or some flexibility on where they live. As someone with a remote job who currently lives in a community without an active local group and seemingly without people who would be interested in being involved with one, I would be open to moving to a community with lots of EAs but without an active EA group for the sake of helping as a group organizer. Perhaps I'm odd in that way, but perhaps there are a few other EAs that are similar.
In either case, I'd be interested in seeing a list of EA cities that have this problem and coming up with ways to match interested people with open roles. Feel free to reach out to me if you'd like help with this. :)
This is a great idea! From starting a group at Brown University last year, I can say that it definitely would have been helpful to have a remote volunteer helping out.
It is very hard to start a well-run EA group at your university because it requires that you have a lot of time and a good idea of how to start and lead the group. Having volunteers help remotely would make the process a lot easier.
Here are some things that I think could be helpful for a remote volunteer to do for a small EA university group:
- Give advice on how to structure the group (while understanding that the student has the better understanding of the university culture)
- Make a website, facebook page, etc.
- Email and coordinate with speakers to come and talk at the university
- Complete funding applications
- Make posters and posts that can be spread on social media
- Suggest readings (with discussion question) for group meetings
- Give one-on-one career coaching calls (This is already done by people at EA Oxford and I think it is very helpful)
- If the person can visit during the start of the semester it would be helpful if they could run Intro to EA workshops and set up a table to talk to students about EA (at the activities fair or just in general)