There is! Linked it in the last point now too, thanks!
Actually in the very early days of EA Anywhere, I toyed with the idea of having a separate student sub-group in part for this purpose (and for university students without EA groups). I dropped it partially for capacity reasons and partially because there didn't seem like much demand for it, but I'd be excited about this being part of our expansion with our new organizer.
I see EA Anywhere as a good supplement to small groups. While we advertise as "a local group for people without local groups", I think it makes a lot of sense to also work with group ... (read more)
Agree with Sami's comment below. Virtual events are certainly a good way to get people from more isolated parts of the region engaged, but if 90% of the attendees already know each other from in-person events, that may be even more isolating. I suspect this is fairly easy to mitigate though if the organiser is conscientious about it.
It might be worth connecting them with other virtual communities too. Besides us, there are lots of virtual groups popping up (Giving What We Can, EA for Christians, EA for Jews, the EA Hispanic group, EA Consulting, Effe... (read more)
I started to write a more thorough response to this but realized I was essentially copying Rethink Priorities' post on Ballot Initiatives, which covers a lot of EA causes with high leverage at the local/state level.
Two popular EA causes that I think are missing:
I had similar concerns about our Operations AMA recently. It wasn't wildly popular, but we got 7 questions and I still felt like it was a good use of my time. Several people in the group said they really enjoyed it and would be interested in doing another one, and I liked it enough that I'm planning to do another AMA for one of my other projects as well.
I'll also mention that it's a (relatively) low-effort way to create content (and get karma, if you care). I often feel like I should post to the Forum more but either don't feel like I have anything w... (read more)
How can experienced EA groups best provide organizational support for new/small ones?
I consider myself a new organizer so I don’t have much to add here other than a) one-on-ones, and b) sharing systems etc. that work for you (e.g. for tracking attendance, advertising, workshops). I think every new group is going to have different questions and different needs so I suspect there’s not a one-size-fits-all formula, which is why I think one-on-ones with organizers can be especially helpful, since you can gauge their bottlenecks and help brainstorm solutions.
What relatively low-cost things can leadership do, if any, that go far in improving new team members’ (especially volunteers’) morale/engagement/commitment/initiative?
A few things come to mind:
1) Be an understanding, compassionate human. It sounds easy but I (and I think many others) actually suck at this once you bring important projects with deadlines into the mix. If someone doesn’t do things on time, it’s easy for me to get frustrated with them, but as a student leader I wish I would have reached out to people who were dropping balls and act... (read more)
How can EA groups grow their teams and activities while maintaining good team coordination and management?
Short answer: Asana. Long answer: Clearly define everyone’s roles and responsibilities and delegate wherever you can. As you get bigger you’ll probably want to have something like a traditional management structure, where e.g. the President oversees four committees, and each committee is run by one person, rather than one giant executive board. That way the President doesn’t have to keep track of every little thing that’s happening. This works bes... (read more)
Fellow group organizer here! (and former uni club leader, though not for an EA group) Honestly I don't think there were that many specific skills I learned from operations that helped me in group organizing, but rather it was the general operations mindset, which to me involves: a) noticing when things aren't running smoothly as they can be (for me this is feels like a special kind of stress, and if I'm not careful, my brain directs the blame towards other people involved in the system rather than the system itself), and b) trying things, whether that be n... (read more)
how difficult is it to get a position doing operations work for an EA org, especially if you have some but not tonnes of operations experience?
For a long time I would discourage people from going into operations unless I (or they) had reason to think they're an especially good fit because I thought it was difficult to get in (mostly based on reading this post, and my assumption that operations roles have looser requirements than other roles, so more people tend to apply).
However, at recent EA conferences I've talked to a lot of people interested in o... (read more)
is there currently a need for more operations people in EA orgs?
I've heard differing opinions on this from different organizations, and I think this is in large part because different organizations have different standards for operations hires.
For example, an organization that thinks that having an EA-aligned hire is important and is looking for someone with significant nonprofit/operations experience will have a more difficult time filling a role than an organization that's just looking for someone with certain soft skills (e.g. problem solving, lea... (read more)
Thanks! I absolutely agree. I don't think that EAs should surround themselves with only EAs in the name of preventing value drift (this seems borderline cult-like to me), but I think having people in one's social circle who care about doing good, regardless of whether in the EA sense or not, seems like a good idea, for the reason you mentioned, and because I think there are things EAs can learn from non-EAs about doing good in the world.
(Also, non-EAs can make good friends regardless of their ability to contribute to your impact or not. :) )
Agree with these. I'll also throw in Carnegie Mellon's Public Policy and Data Analytics program.
McCourt, Harris, and Heinz (at CMU) are essentially the top three schools offering this track from what I can tell.
I would definitely look into lobbying as a career route! That seems like a high-impact use of sales skills
Also, if you want to get involved in policy directly (rather than via research), an MPP or MPA might be a better fit for you rather than an MA/PhD.
(Context: I work in operations at an EA org.)
I think #1 sounds like a good bet. At this point, I get the sense that EA has more aspiring operations and management people than it can handle, so funding organizations so that more qualified people can be employed and make an impact sounds high-impact. Of course that could change in 5+ years, but I wouldn't count on it, and your current role seems like it might lend itself to gaining useful skills for ops anyway.
#2 isn't bad either if the opportunity comes up, but if you enjoy your work and don't mind earning to give, I think you have a really big opportunity for counterfactual impact in option #1.
For what it’s worth, in my experience at TLYCS it takes a lot more than just a website to move money.
+1 to this. RC Forward wrote a bit about this in our year-in-review in 2019.
Thanks for the thorough post! I appreciate the transparency CEA has been keeping in its strategy and plans.
Small question: does EEAs = engaged EAs? Is that defined by a specific metric?
Good question! Relatedly, are there common characteristics among people/organizations who you think would make promising applicants but often don't apply? Put another way, who would you encourage to apply who likely hasn't considered applying?
A common case is people who are just shy to apply for funding. I think a lot of people feel awkward about asking for money. This makes sense in some contexts - asking your friends for cash could have negative consequences! And I think EAs often put additional pressure on themselves: "Am I really the best use of this $X?" But of course as a funder we love to see more applications: it's our job to give out money, and the more applications we have, the better grants we can make.
Another case is people (wrongly) assuming they're not good enough. I think a lot of people underestimate their abilities, especially in this community. So I'd encourage people to just apply, even if you don't think you'll get it.
This is a really helpful list! I noticed a couple of organizations that I consider EA aligned that should perhaps be on the list:
Love this post and would love to see more like it on the forum! Congrats on a successful EA Student Summit.
I especially want to emphasize this:
there are so many EAs who would genuinely like to talk to you.
In my experience, EAs are almost always super willing to provide advice to others within the EA movement, often because they're nice people, but also because they get to help you have an impact, which helps them have an impact, so everybody wins!
As a single data point, nothing makes my day more than getting emails from random EAs. :)
I think I've mentioned a few times on the Forum that Strangers Drowning and Doing Good Better have probably been the most influential parts of my EA journey, and I probably wouldn't have been involved in EA without them. Strangers Drowning seemed like a good priming for EA, while Doing Good Better was a pretty compelling intro.
Others, in no particular order:
Congrats! Sounds like a great fit for you. :)
Not an existing nonprofit, but you might also be interested in creating one of the Software Platforms in this post.
Great post! I know a little bit about the US side of things from both watching orgs I've worked with go through the process, and working at a start-up that helped charities get 501(c)(3) status, so I can offer some data points from that perspective.
Great post! I think you're one of the first uni groups I've seen who's particularly selective with their fellowship - I wouldn't have initially agreed with that strategy, but you give convincing reasons for doing so and it sounds like it paid off. :) Congrats on a successful fellowship round!
I think one of the best things about hearing about EA pre-college is it would let you set up your college plan (e.g., major, internships) in an EA-directed way
To me, this seems like the best case for engaging with high schoolers over college students. I seem to meet a lot of EAs who study something that doesn't correlate well with most high-impact careers and find themselves wishing they'd heard about EA sooner so they could have studied something more practical.
The major questions I have with this are 1) can you actually convince high schoolers ... (read more)
Matthew Dellavedova is on Momentum's board, and they're an EA-aligned org, so I suspect he might be EA-sympathetic (or at the very least familiar with it).
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I largely agree with you. I also think studying "pure" value drift (as opposed to "symptoms" of value drift, which is what a lot of the research in this area focuses on, including, to some extent, my own) comes with a few challenges. (Epistemic status: Pretty uncertain and writing this in haste. Feel free to tell me why I'm wrong.)
Hmm. On the one hand I think these are all useful topics for an EA to know. But I don't think it's necessary for all EAs to know these things. I think there's a lot of EAs who don't have this technical knowledge, but are happy to outsource decisions relying on this knowledge (such as where to donate) to people who do. That said, I think that often leads to donating less-than-effectively (e.g. giving to whatever EA Fund appeals to you personally, rather than rationally thinking about trade-offs/probabilistic outcomes).
I guess this is, i... (read more)
I haven't actually heard of any EA organizations laying off staff due to COVID-19. I wouldn't be surprised if you see very little loss of jobs at EA orgs specifically, or even none at all, over the last couple of months. Most EA organizations seem to have a decent amount of runway, and with a lot of EA donors employed in big tech, which seems to have been relatively stable throughout COVID, there is fortunately still a decent amount of income coming through.
That said, I suspect most of the financial and hence employment impacts of COVID on EA or... (read more)
If you haven't already, I'd reach out directly to GPR organizations and mention that you're interested in applying your skillset to their work. They might be able to provide you with some concrete examples and a better idea of what's available in the field.
I heard in mid-2019 that Open Phil was interviewing EAs to identify common characteristics / background among people are most receptive to EA. I don't think it was published though.
Strongly agree with your points, although I also don't think they're mutually exclusive to the content of this post.
I think some of the most value I got out of university (and high school, to be honest) was the ability to try out a bunch of things at once with relative ease. I have a lot of interests that change and come and go rather quickly, and in the university setting, it was strangely easy to get involved in whatever new thing that caught my attention, whether via a course, a club, meetings with a professor, an internship, a volunteer oppor... (read more)
I'm afraid I don't have any original recommendations, but have you read the EA Handbook Motivation Series? Nate Soares' 'On Caring' might be particularly relevant.
I was also talking with some other EAs about this recently and one of them mentioned Metta meditation, which is essentially a meditation that focuses on creating an expanding circle of goodwill, which could hypothetically include the long-term future. If meditation is your thing, it might be worth a shot.
Great post! Been meaning to comment for a while - better late than never than suppose.
One thing I wanted to add - I've talked with ~50 people who are interested in working at EA orgs over the last six months or so, and it seems like a lot of them come to the decision through process of elimination. Common trends I see:
Came here to recommend Replacing Guilt as well! Was very impactful for me :)
And we'd love to have you at one of our EA Virtual Group meetups! You can join our new Slack workspace here
Great response - thank you!
I found the Unlocking Your Employability course on EdX had a lot of useful activities for improving self-marketing. Learning How to Learn on Coursera was also helpful, though it doesn't have as many interactive activities. I've also heard good things about this Creative Problem Solving course, but I haven't had the chance to try it myself.
Lynette Bye's Productivity Tips also has a lot of useful resources for improving personal productivity.
I would also add CFAR as probably the most helpful tool I've gotten for improving productivit... (read more)
Thanks for this post! I found it quite helpful.
I have a couple of questions about the checklist you linked, though I'm not sure how strongly you endorse it.
Is there a substantial amount of literature in your field?
Was there a major discovery in the field in recent years?
seem to be indicators of neglectedness, which might make the topics more appealing to EAs. Do you think these are better pursued outside of academia? Or not at all?
Do you want a career in academia?
Is there a better option for prospective PhD students who want a career in research outside of academia?
I found this post really interesting - thank you!
One question I have after reading is the tractability of increasing benevolence, intelligence, and power. I get the sense that increasing benevolence might be the least tractable (though 80,000 Hours seems to think it might still be worth pursuing), though I'm less sure about how intelligence and power compare. (I'm inclined to think intelligence is somewhat more tractable, but I'm highly uncertain about that.)
Believe it or not, you're not the first person to think about this. There's an EA dating site made years ago called reciprocity.io, although I'm not sure it gets much use anymore.
Some arguments I've seen in favor of this:
If a relationship with a non-EA goes sour, that person might have a negative association with EA as a result.
For what it's worth, my guess is that this is a larger concern for dating EAs than for dating non-EAs.
I also find it very helpful to be very close to people who share a lot of core values but are not entirely aligned/identities aren't too similar. You end up with diversity of thought in your own life. Plus, it's a lot better to bounce off and model the general population when you have people near and dear to you who think differently.
I'll offer a data point: I'm not particularly motivated to post on the Forum by a monetary prize. It hasn't led me to post on the Forum more than I ordinarily would. I am somewhat interested in social rewards, but the karma feature seems to do that better than the Forum Prize.
Also, as someone who doesn't read every single post on the Forum, I also find the Prize useful for highlighting what content is actually worth reading, but again, I think highlighting posts based on karma instead (with or without a monetary prize) would work just as well.
If the Forum Prize does continue, I do think there should be separate categories for professional researchers and "amateurs."
I've found a couple of other useful resources since first posting this:
Interesting! Didn't know that.
Not academic or outside of EA, but this Forum comment and this Facebook post may be good starting points if you haven't seen them already.
As an update, I am working on a full post that will excerpt 20 arguments against working to improve the long-term future and/or working to reduce existential risk as well as responses to those arguments. The post itself is currently at 26,000 words and there are six planned comments (one of which will add 10 additional arguments) that together are currently at 11,000 words. There have been various delays in my writing process but I now think that is good because there have been several new and important arguments that have been developed in the past year. My goal is to begin circulating the draft for feedback within three months.
I have seen a few EAs discuss selling eggs as a way of earning-to-give. If you're not willing to compensate at market rates, getting a donation may be a bit more difficult, but I don't expect it to be impossible.
If I were to look for an egg cell donor, I would probably make some sort of a post or Google Doc outlining exactly the type of person you're looking for, what you'd expect from them, and what you're willing to compensate. Then sharing it on some EA platforms - I imagine you could generate some leads from Bountied Rationalit... (read more)
I don't have much to add aside from what the other two responses have said except that I think it's possible to have opportunities that both develop the inner self and benefit others. I probably wouldn't endorse spending all your time on these activities, but looking out for them and prioritizing them seems like a good decision to me.
I don't think there's a One Right Answer or a one-size-fits-all approach, but I do think that using the comparative advantage framework may be helpful here.
You're probably right - mostly wondering if someone had more rigorous evidence on this (or ideas on how to get it) or examples beyond the mainstream ones.
First: before you schedule any one-on-ones at EAG (or wherever you are), think about what you want to get out of them/the conference in general. This post includes some sample goals to consider. What your goals are will pretty much dictate what one-on-ones will be most valuable for you.
I'm coming at this as someone whose primary goal for EAGs has generally been to clarify my career plans, and secondary goal has been to make more EA friends, so my advice will likely be skewed towards that.
Who should I meet with?
I usually find myself scheduling three ty... (read more)
I've been thinking about this also so I'm glad to see this post!
Anecdote: I've been talking to friends and family about COVID-19 since late January/February, and started my first attempts at social distancing towards the beginning of March. In these first few days, a lot of my (non-EA) friends seemed to think this response was an overreaction. Later on, a lot of them came around to say, "wow, you were right," which I've tried to use to point some more credibility towards EA.
Some not-fully-formed ideas I have about this: