Announcing the launch of the German Effective Altruism Network: NEAD

by Ekaterina_Ilin5 min read18th Nov 20191 comment

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We officially announced our plans for founding an association for Effective Altruists in Germany in a previous post. In this post, we describe the successful launch, and lay out our initial plans. We introduce ourselves and explain the internal structure of NEAD. Our team is currently looking for (international) collaborators and support.

The founding of NEAD

The German effective altruism network "Netzwerk für Effektiven Altruismus Deutschland e. V." (NEAD) was officially founded on October 5th 2019 during a community building retreat in Cologne with participants from all over Germany. NEAD’s primary objective is to support the professionalization of the EA movement in Germany by helping aspiring Effective Altruists in Germany to do good effectively as individuals, as groups, and as a community. NEAD aims to make Germany a place where EAs can thrive, by including them into a tightly knit network of experts and like-minded people, providing financial and human support, career advice, and a welcoming community that makes doing good enjoyable and sustainable.

Why Germany?

Germany is the most populous member state and biggest economy of the EU. According to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Global Philanthropy Report, Germany boasts one of the largest philanthropic sectors in the world, e.g. ranking second only after the U.S. in total expenditures by foundations. German universities, research institutes and companies account for the fourth highest total R&D spending in the world (OECD, 2019) and rank no. 1 in innovation capability in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 competitiveness report. Germany has the biggest share of seats in the European Parliament, is a decisive force in the European Council, provides the new President of the European Commission, and will hold the EU Council Presidency in the second half of 2020, when it will most likely broker the next trillion Dollar multi-annual financial framework of the EU 2021-2027. Given this background, Germany is an interesting country from an EA perspective as its citizens and policy makers may have strong influence on the development of the EU – one of the key actors on the global stage – and beyond.

Why now?

Community building in Germany used to be supported and coordinated by the Effective Altruism Foundation that officially withdrew from this project to focus mainly on research about a year ago. NEAD not only fills this gap but also commits to direct concerted effort to establish a participative culture and to give the German EA community a shared voice.

Current activities and plans

In our first year, we are doing our best to be iterating quickly, failing fast, and avoiding locking into rigid structures too early. Thus, we are still experimenting with our portfolio of activities trying to quickly gauge interest by the German EA community. To validate and further inform our plans, we will continue to reach out to existing local groups in Germany and aim to establish solid relationships and high-bandwidth feedback loops.

Current portfolio

Our current portfolio of activities includes:

Plans

Planned activities include:

  • extensive one-on-one matching within the German EA movement, including career coaching, and self-development oriented reviews
  • tailored support of local EA groups in Germany, including training and administrative support for group leaders, and
  • collaboration with other national EA groups on topics such as local career advice and metrics for national EA groups.

A central element of our plans is our website, which already provides an overview over our current activities, events, and workshops. We aim to evolve it into a one-stop-shop for aspiring EAs in Germany who wish to engage with the community. This will include useful resources for local EA groups in Germany (e.g., in German), and a calendar of all EA-related events taking place in Germany (i.e., including those run by local EA groups). All features will be developed in close collaboration with all players in the German EA movement. For more information check out ealokal.de.

Internal structure

NEAD is organized as a network of individuals and organizations that aims to balance approachability and openness with high quality standards for activities and results. Toward this goal, NEAD currently offers two types of membership that regulate the rights and responsibilities of members: NEAD cooperative member and NEAD coordinator.

NEAD cooperative members

NEAD cooperative member is the common form of membership that can be attained by all aspiring effective altruists who have cleared a peer-review process that consists of two short (20-30 min) semi-structured one-on-ones with two experienced NEAD members. The goal of the one-on-ones is to ensure

  1. general value alignment with core EA principles and
  2. motivation to engage with EA in a substantial manner as well as
  3. to provide a human component to NEAD early in the membership life-cycle.

NEAD cooperative members are encouraged to actively participate in the activities and provide feedback on the decision making of the network. However, there is no obligation to participate beyond yearly check-ins to verify that the membership is still in both parties best interest. NEAD cooperative members who enjoy participating in the network and are able to regularly dedicate time for administrative tasks related to the development of NEAD can consider applying to become a NEAD coordinator.

NEAD coordinators

NEAD coordinator is a restricted form of membership that can only be attained by aspiring effective altruists who have demonstrated substantial dedication and ability in the context of EA community and movement building. They must be willing to commit to concrete work packages in relation to the development of NEAD. One-on-ones with at least two experienced NEAD coordinators are used to review and plan a NEAD coordinator membership at least once a year. NEAD coordinators who do not keep or do not extend commitments for concrete work packages return to cooperative member status again. In comparison to NEAD cooperative members, NEAD coordinators have additional voting rights such as vetoing of decisions and the ability to vote in the NEAD general assembly.

The main differences between NEAD cooperative members and NEAD coordinators are:

  • NEAD coordinators make public and tractable commitments that are reviewed on a regular basis, while NEAD cooperative member take less responsibility.
  • NEAD coordinators can vote in the general assembly. They drive our decision making processes, while NEAD cooperative members are encouraged to participate in day-to-day decision making and provide feedback on the overall direction of NEAD.

Our team

Alexander Herwix (doctoral candidate at the University of Cologne)

Alexander Herwixis working on a PhD in the discipline of information systems, and is co-founder and current chairman of the NEAD board. He has several years of experience in project management, web development, social science research, and EA community building.

Dorota Czaplejewicz (phone developer at Purism, SPC)

Aspiring optimist, trying to be nicer to people every day. When not advocating for Libre Software, personal and political freedom, busy hacking for fun and profit.

Markus Brechtel (entrepreneur and devops engineer, thengo UG, Darmstadt)

Markus Brechtel is currently working self-employed at his own firm. He has been involved in EA since 2015, and was a founding member of the EA Darmstadt local group in 2018.

Ekaterina Ilin (PhD student in astrophysics, Potsdam)

Ekaterina became involved in EA in 2016 when she joined EA Berlin. She has experience in coordinating and curating interdisciplinary research-oriented workshops, knows a lot about our extra-solar neighborhood, and runs the on-boarding of new members at NEAD.

Max Schons (infectious disease researcher, Cologne)

Max is developing decision support tools for physicians in the infectious disease space. In his free time he organized multiple EA events over the last year and has co-organized EA Cologne over the past three years.

Luise Wolf (pediatrician, Leipzig)

Luise first struggled with the whole idea of Effective Altruism but became convinced via reading “Doing Good Better”, and talking to other people involved in the movement. She is founder of the Leipzig Local Group, is very keen about diversity within EA and has experience in anti-discriminatory practice and Global Health related topics.

Birte Spekker (Master student in Cognitive Science, Osnabrück)

Birte is a student in Cognitive Science with a focus on moral psychology and moral cognition. She has been a local group organizer in Osnabrück for over three years now and is excited to connect aspiring EAs from all over Germany.

Manuel Allgaier (EA Berlin, CEA Grantee, Berlin)

Manuel is working full-time in EA Community Building, currently organizing EA Berlin on a CEA Grant. Before EA made him re-evaluate his career plans, he studied environmental science, economics, and IT, and worked in education, charity management and sustainability consultancy. He’s particularly interested in organizing retreats, offering career 1-1’s and building networking systems.

Florian Zeidler (co-founder and technical lead, ESTATIKA GmbH, Münster)

Florian is an entrepreneur with a computer science background. He has experience working in human rights NGOs as volunteer community builder as well as full-time. He has been involved in EA since 2016 as a co-founding member of the local group in Münster.

Collaborate with us

We are always interested in getting to know the wider EA community. We are actively looking for people and organizations that want to collaborate with us, co-organizing or hosting workshops and other valuable events, or developing career pipelines. If you have an idea for an event or know someone who might be a good fit for working with us, please consider sending an email to info@ealokal.de.

We are also looking for individuals in the German and international EA community who would be willing to take a mentorship role and serve on the NEAD advisory board. As advisory board member you will be asked to evaluate the development of NEAD on a regular basis (yearly), and advise the board upon request (~ monthly). Let us know via info@ealokal.de if you feel qualified and are interested.

Support us

We are currently looking for funding to support the professional development of NEAD (Thanks to all who have supported us already!). To support the continued growth and professionalization of NEAD, you can donate here (currently not tax-deducible, more options will become available soon). If you have any questions or concerns regarding a donation,please don’t hesitate to send us an email at info@ealokal.de.

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