Local EA groups play an invaluable role. They’re where much outreach and fundraising happens. They make people aware of effective altruism and strengthen their commitment to it. There are dozens of local EA groups around the world from Auckland to Vancouver, with hundreds of truly dedicated people working on them. As part of their common mission, these groups share knowledge and resources with one another, though a Facebook group, mailing list, conference calls, newsletter, wiki and other such channels.
A small but growing team under .impact has been working on connecting, supporting and growing this network of groups. Our project is called the Local Effective Altruism Network, or LEAN for short. It follows .impact’s general model in providing a decentralised, transparent and open way for groups to help one another while maintaining their autonomy. Several local organizers around the world have got involved, sharing resources and knowledge with other groups in the network and providing support. For example, we’ve worked with Peter McIntyre of Sydney’s EA UNSW to build free websites for local groups, for which we provide hosting using .impact’s web server, and buy domain names using LEAN funds.
Our broad team includes many other such volunteers from groups around the world who want to use the experience and skills that they’ve built up to help EA outreach elsewhere. Get in touch if you’d like to do this too - or we encourage you to use the network channels directly if you have a specific idea or offer, while still also dropping us a line. The most reliable way to reach all local groups is to send us an item to include in the newsletter that we send to all their organizers.
We also have a small team coordinating work, providing support themselves, and doing what’s required to run LEAN as a lean organization. We began in January by recruiting people to do local outreach in cities and countries without an existing EA presence, through which method we have seeded 80 groups; some already quite active. Back then relatively little other work was being done with local groups, but their importance and value is increasingly being recognised; we coordinate our work with other EA organisations now working on this. This naturally required a ‘central’ team, but we’ve since expanded our focus to growing and supporting these and other groups in their endeavours to do counterfactual good. In this we’ve continued the work of THINK, the initial organisation focused on local groups at the dawn of effective altruism thus-named at 2012, which we are an official successor of.
We’re lucky to have some very dedicated people on both the ‘central’ LEAN team and the broader team across the whole network of groups. Listing them all would be impossible, but that’s no reason not to thank a few, such as Max Carpendale, Ben Clifford, Richenda Herzig, (board level watchdog), Peter McIntyre, Alex Richard, Brian Tse, Peter Hurford (a board level watchdog), and last but not least Marcus Davis (now sadly departed to coding bootcamp after many months of work, including two with me in Vancouver). Thanks are of course also due to everyone else who’s helped - and most of all to those involved in the local groups themselves, who do the lion’s share of outreach work and to whom the credit for it belongs.