EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES

How to Start and Run EA Meetups

Jump to:

  1. Launch

Step 1. Find co-organizers

Step 2. Register as a student group (if you’re college-based)

Step 3. Advertise

Step 4. Plan your first meetup

  1. Leading meetups (what you absolutely need to know)

Meetup prep

During the meetup

After the meetup

  1. Leading meetups (advanced maneuvers)

How To Deal With People

How To Build and Maintain a Community

The Magic of Delegation! (To Make Your Job Even Easier)

If You Want People To Love You (and LEAN) Do This

How Do I Make My Presentation Amazing?

Assorted Goodies

LEAN Blurb/Pitch

Social Media

Constitution Writing Guide

Sample Constitution

Utilizing the Office of Student Affairs

Talking about LEAN

Inspiration from other groups


1. Launch

There are 4 steps to launching a meetup:

  1. Find co-organizers
  2. Register as a student group (if you’re college-based)
  3. Advertise
  4. Plan your first meetup

Step 1. Find co-organizers

While not strictly necessary, having co-organizers lets you share tasks like:

  • Presenting topics
  • Booking rooms
  • Printing and bringing supplies
  • Advertising
  • Communicating with members outside the meetup
  • Registering as a student group (optional but recommended)
  • Applying for funding (optional)

There are a number of ways to find co-organizers:

  • Ask your friends.
  • Post about your starting a meetup on your Facebook page and have your friends do the same. (We have a sample blurb/pitch that has produced good results in the past.)
  • Email the pitch to people and groups around campus that might have similar interests: we’ve found service, development, and philanthropy organizations, and philosophy students and clubs, to be most receptive.

Step 2. Register as a student group (if you’re college-based)

Being recognized as a student organization gives you certain privileges, which may include:

  • Having a stall at the student societies/activities fair
  • Booking rooms
  • Using the college logo in advertising
  • Applying for funding
  • Being featured in the student paper

We have a Guide to Writing a Constitution, as well as a Sample Constitution which includes a statement of purpose that you can use or modify to suit your needs. You should also take this opportunity to make sure that the network support team have an up to date list of your organizers’ email addresses so that they can help connect you with interested students, helpful resources and other groups in the network. Finally, we’ve included some advice and ideas on how to better utilize the office of Student Affairs/Campus Life.

**Step 3. Advertise **

Now to drum up interest in the meetup.

If you’ve registered as a student organization in time, have a stall at the student societies/activities fair. Be sure to have a sign-up sheet or a laptop/tablet for collecting emails, as well as a time and location for your first meeting (preferably within 10 days of the fair) to tell visitors.

If possible, please pass on these emails to 80,000 Hours, at info@80000hours.org

If possible, it’s often useful to have flyers to give people at the fair

Advertise on Facebook.

Create an event in your Facebook group and invite all your interested friends to it. This trick will let you select all the friends in one of your lists.

Email the mailing lists of departments and altruistic organizations.

Post flyers around campus, esp. on bulletin boards and in university housing (see here for flyer designs)

Ask professors teaching large or relevant classes if you can give a quick spiel at the start of class, or at particularly relevant points during the curriculum

Get professors to give class credit for attending one of your meetups on a relevant topic

Especially Philosophy or International Development

Use Campus Media (newspaper, radio, events calendar) to share activities & events

Run joint events with other societies

Run an event with a famous guest speaker

Get Media Attention

Talk to the media relations office at your institution - they are there to make their college look good, and your meetup makes the college look altruistic.

Career Centers may have resources and enthusiasm for co-sponsorship of a launch event on ethical career choice. See this list of EA presentations for inspiration on relevant speakers.

Step 4. Plan your first meetup

Here is a complete checklist for the first meetup:

  • Select a topic.
  • You can find a number of discussion plans for introductory topics in the sidebar of http://www.thehighimpactnetwork.org/modules. Unsurprisingly, Introduction To Effective Altruism is a good start. You can , of course, tweak the topics if you like.
  • If feasible, an EA-affiliated guest speaker can be a great way to introduce lots of new people to EA.
  • If you’d like a much more structured module to run through, starting out with an in-depth discussion module can be an option
  • Make sure you have at least three to five confirmed attendees
  • Set up a good communication system:
  • Create a copy of TEMPLATE - Contacts database and use it as your own database of contacts
  • Create a mailing list on Google Groups
  • Set Settings/Email options/Post replies = To managers of the group if you wish to use the Google group as a discussion forum without spamming people with lots of emails
  • Invite your contacts to the mailing list
  • Share your Google Groups mailing list with LEAN’s support team (lean@effectivealtruismhub.com).
  • Find a good time for everyone to meet
  • You can poll people using when2meet
  • Be sure to email their addresses directly as well as through your Google Group until you’re sure that people have accepted their invite and have set their communication preferences to allow emails from the mailing list.
  • Choose an hour-long slot when at least four people are available
  • Have an “official” end time so that people who need to be somewhere can step out, but hang around for a bit afterwards for those that want to chat or continue discussion. Book your room for at least 2 hours to allow for this.
  • Choose a location - this can be a classroom, lounge, or cafe, as long as it’s quiet and not too crowded.
  • Email everyone on your LEAN contact list with the date, time, and place
  • Remember to check that everyone is properly signed up on the mailing list and email them separately if they are not.

Congrats! You are ready to roll!

2. Leading meetups (what you absolutely need to know)

Meetup prep

Read through topic in advance - it will sound more natural if you can read out the text in your own words.

Arrive early the day of the meetup, to set up and troubleshoot any issues.

Things you might want to bring with you:

Clipboard w/ sign in sheet & attached pen

Nametags and sharpies (for first meetup)

Snacks (people love food!)

(If doing a topic:

Printouts of the topic

(If applicable) worksheets for all attendees, which you can find on the module pages here.

Copies of topic/module feedback form

Topic/module prerequisite items - pens, timer/watch, etc.

Have a sign. Just some paper with ‘Effective Altruism’ on it folded so it stands up will do the trick.

During the meetup

Greet each person who comes. Make sure they feel welcome.

Introduce people with a little one sentence description of their causes or something. Throw people a conversation starter.

Other idea: most interesting recent thing they’ve read or seen

Pass around a sign-up sheet or take attendance (be sure to record # of attendees and # of newcomers for the meetup tracking form afterwards).

Remind people to write legibly if they are to share their workbooks with others.

If it’s the second or later meeting, keep note of terminology a new person might not be aware of. Be sure to fill them in. Or even remind people who’ve only heard it once before. For example, “EA stands for Effective Altruism, means helping the world the most.”

Ask other people to present modules and volunteer with the core LEAN support team. Remind them how great it’ll look on their resumes.

After the meetup

Everyone likes talking about themselves. What was everyone’s experience like? Let them rave or complain.

Leave the room tidy

Fill out the feedback forms so we can get rid of the stuff that sucked and do more of the stuff you loved. It shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes or so, and your improvements will ripple through the whole network of meetups.

Make sure to tell them that it’s anonymous so they’re honest.

Let participants with laptops know that they can fill out an electronic feedback form on our website’s modules page (if you used the paper version, you’ll need to enter the data yourself afterwards!)

Fill out the meetup tracking form within a day while it’s fresh in your memory.

Let everybody choose the next module or give them a little heads up about the next one at the end of the meeting. Create the anticipation.

Add any new people to your Google Group. Email them to thank them for participating and see if they have any questions. Be sure to invite them to the next meetup!

Maybe try using your mailing list to continue the discussion from the meetup. (I’m not sure if anyone has tried this yet or how well it will work)

Between meetups

When you are forwarded a new contact (e.g. people who sign up through website):

Record in your contacts database, including info on how they came across Effective Altruism

Invite to mailing list

Send email thanking them for their interest in effective altruism and giving details about the next meetup

Check for expired mailing list invitations, making a special effort to chase up anyone who has attended a meetup but is not on the mailing list.

Answer any emails promptly

3. Leading meetups (advanced maneuvers)

How To Deal With People

People will come for the laughter and the friendship. So if the conversation’s drifting off topic, it’s okay to let it drift for a bit. But keep in mind that often people have places to go after the allotted time, so don’t let it go on a tangent for too long.

How to bring things back on topic/redirect a tangent if you need to:

“Anyway…”

“So…”

When they take a breath or short pause, ask them a question about what you were trying to talk about.

Comment on what they’ve said then ask what another person thinks about the conversation topic.

If somebody is often the last to get picked and it’s time to partner up, try to pick them first. Nobody wants to be left out.

How To Deal With a Shy Person

Don’t push them to say anything. If they don’t want to say anything or look exceptionally uncomfortable talking to the group all at once, that’s fine. Other people are more than willing to chatter on.

Make sure when they first say anything, respond positively, not with criticism.

If people are hanging out at the edge of a conversation and looking occasionally at you guys, ask them what they think on the topic you’re talking about. They might be trying to get into the conversation but don’t know how.

How to Deal With a Chatterbox Extraordinaire

Say, “Oh, that reminds me of… ” and then bring it back to the topic.

Jump into the gap when chatterbox takes a breath and say “That’s an interesting thought [chatterbox]. What do you think, [less assertive conversationalist]?”

Duct tape.

How To Build and Maintain a Community

Get people’s email addresses so you can remind them about the upcoming meetup.

Don’t spam! Don’t send out more than one mass email per week as a rule of thumb.

If you’re running a meetup, make sure that at least you and one other person say you’re attending right off the bat because that will encourage people to want to come. Chat to people on facebook who you know come regularly and make sure they sign up. Or just tell them once in a while about how important it is; it only takes a minute.

Encourage meetings outside of the meetup:

Regular potlucks. Everybody can come but it has to be at somebody’s house. Unless you can do it at school. : )

Have people over at a house to have food and fun (e.g. dinner and games). To make it more of an event and build more of a sense of community, have it go late and say that people can stay the night on the couch.

Coffee

Videochat. Can be unusual for people, but should become more usual with time. Also, the convenience of this form is fantastic. You don’t have to leave your house, you can talk to anybody from anywhere in the world, and you don’t have to put on pants.

Encourage people to exchange emails / IMs. Set the precedent by starting it up yourself. Ask people for their email / IM contacts. Chat outside of the meetup.

Link people individually to organizations and people in the effective altruism community who you think would be up their alley. Wait til the moment’s ripe, then set them up with an intro email and a topic to talk about. For example:

Hey Jenny and Mark,

Here’s introducing you! Jenny’s a student studying psychology who’s interested in global poverty and graphic design. Mark’s a director of LEAN and interested in global poverty too! You guys should arrange a videochat to share your experiences trying to get more people concerned about that.

What if you ever leave? Try to have someone who is willing to take over the role of running the meetup.

Ask people to invite their friends occasionally. Don’t send out a mass email. People don’t respond to that. While you’re at the meeting ask them individually about their friends. Do they know anybody who’d be interested in coming? How about coming for any particular module?

Pay for a meetup account for two months of the year, spaced 6 months apart, to occasionally draw in new people.

Always have a set date for restarting after a break. Send out an email the day before.

The Magic of Delegation! (To Make Your Job Even Easier)

Ask others to present modules. Remind them how great it’ll look on resumes and how improving their presentation skills will make it easier when they have to present for work.

Ask others to sign up for tasks.

Ask others to bring food.

Always assign tasks to a specific person with specific due dates. If they’ve signed up for tasks and you want them to love you for saving them from the embarrassment of forgetting, send out reminders halfway through the week.

Don’t worry about asking for help! People are often looking for ways to help. It will actually make them feel more connected to effective altruism and the meetup.

Remember to thank them!

If You Want People To Love You (and LEAN) Do This

Food! Everybody loves food. Bring whatever you think everybody will like and what’s easy, like donut holes, strawberries, cookies, mixed nuts, brownies, etc. (Be careful of allergies!)

Use people’s names often so other people will have reminders (trust me, even if they’ve been coming for months, they may well be keeping up a cunning ruse of not knowing anybody’s name). Also, it makes people like you more. It’s a win all around.

Memorize names. It’s easier for you ‘cause you have a mailing list.

Only offer feedback on presentation if it’s asked for. Otherwise be super positive!

Support other people (even if they’re not the best presenter) to talk and participate in presentations.

How Do I Make My Presentation Amazing?

Pause after reading a question. It may seem long to you but it won’t to your audience.

If you want to be really good record yourself and see how it sounds and looks. Youtube’s a quick and easy way to do this if you don’t have the software on your computer.

Read through the topic once beforehand so you know what is going to happen.

What Should We Talk About?

Use your judgment to determine which of these might be helpful, try to sense what people are keen to talk about. Or if you want more structured discussions, see these modules.

How did people come to hear about effective altruism/the meetup?

What was it about effective altruism that people found compelling?

What interesting things have people read or seen about effective altruism?

Is anyone drawn to any particular causes?

What is something interesting you’re working on?

If you were President what is the first thing you’d do?

If you could be an expert in one field which would you pick?

If you could send back in time one book to your 15-year-old self, which would you pick?

What is something you are unusually good at? What is something you are unusually bad at?

What do you want to be doing in 5 years?

Here are some slightly trickier questions if you’re feeling up for it. There’t not actually any relevant research on these questions, which means they really are up for discussion and there’s no need for a knowledge base. The comments and ideas of the group will be as valuable as any existing research.

Scaling Problems: If an intervention works on a small scale, does that mean we should try to replicate it 100 fold in other similar communities?

What predicts whether interventions scale up well, and what do we do about fields where none of the best organizations seem to scale at all?

Should we reward charities that are transparent, evidence-based, and “rational” in their organizational priorities and advertising, or should charities do whatever works to raise money as long as they’re spending that money effectively?

Is it okay to hire door-to-door fundraiser people with 50% kickbacks to raise money for effective charities, or does that dilute the message? How about matching fundraisers, are they deceitful?

The Africa problem: The most cost effective interventions for the global poor are mostly in Africa. But there’s a growing, justified backlash against rich college students deciding to save Africa. How does EA work in a way that’s respectful of those concerns/make it clear in our messaging that we’re being thoughtful about the damage done by saviorism?

Go forth and multiply!

Assorted Goodies

LEAN Blurb/Pitch

[Greeting]

[Personal introduction]

I’m starting an Effective Altruism meetup at [school/city] We’re looking to use strategy and creativity to help as many people, as much as possible. The meetup will be part of a worldwide network of effective altruism meetups called the Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN). LEAN has launched meetups at Harvard, Stanford, Brown, Berkeley, MIT, and dozens of other colleges in the US, and in Canada, the UK, Australia, Sweden, Brazil, and India. Are you interested in participating in or co-founding a meetup with me?

Our LEAN meetup will lead interactive topics and group activities (in addition to social events) designed to help students find their path to most effectively help the world. The modules cover:

Effective giving - how to determine which charities to donate to

Ethical career choice - how to determine which careers have the greatest positive impact given your values and skills

High impact research - how to determine which research avenues would most benefit the world

Self-improvement - how to make yourself more effective, motivated, and skilled in the pursuit of your goals

Causes and strategies - how to think about these issues within a coherent framework

Many other topics, forming a complete package for aspiring worldchangers - see example modules at www.thehighimpactnetwork.org/modules

We will build a supportive and welcoming community of people who want to make the world a better place by the most effective means. We’ll also connect with students at meetups around the world. As more and more people get involved, we will have a larger and larger positive impact on the world. We will direct more money to the most effective charities. We will help more people choose the highest impact careers. More aspiring scientists will choose high impact research questions. We will raise people out of poverty, cure diseases, save lives, and eventually make the world as awesome as possible.

If you’d like to get involved, [how to contact you].

[signature]

Social Media

Using facebook

First create either a facebook page or facebook group. If you want to also use facebook to build interest in your meetup then a page is preferable.

Using a facebook page (recommended):

· The link to create is at the bottom of any facebook page

· Follow other effective altruist pages from your page.

· Use these and any other sources you have to update your page with links to interesting articles. Also post any announcement or requests, questions, polls, jokes, quotes and so on.

· If you post a picture it is better to save it and upload it as a wall photo (link to the source).

· When you post try to engage the audience and get them talking about the topics you post. Reply to people’s posts or questions.

· Try to update at least once a week, especially during the semester.

· Important messages can be highlighted / pinned to the top of the page and shared on profiles.

· You can schedule a post for a future date.

Using a facebook group:

· To create a group click the button on the right of your home page.

· Post updates to the group.

· If you want a particular message to be advertised as widely as possible then post it on your own profile too and ask people to share it.

· Create events using the ☼ settings button in the top right. Make sure the invite all members box is ticked.

· Easy.

Facebook Events

Create these from your group/page. The important thing is to invite your facebook friends to the event and to get as many people as you know to invite all their facebook friends to the event. Also make sure to provide all the relevant details and give good directions.

Inviting all of your friends:

Invite all of you friends to events and to ‘like’ your page. To do this quickly, first click the ‘Invite Friends’ button (on a page it is under ‘Build Audience’). Scroll down the friends list to the bottom so it shows all your friends (on a page you may need to change to the ‘Search All Friends’ option). Then in the address bar at the top of your browser paste:

javascript:var x=document.getElementsByTagName(“input”);for(var i=0;i<x.length;i++) {if (x[i].type == ‘checkbox’) {x[i].click();}}; alert(‘Done, all your friends are selected’);

Some browsers will automatically remove the “javascript:” at the start, check to see if this has happened, if so retype the “javascript:”. Then press enter and wait for about 30 seconds. Finally click “Save” / “Submit”.

(If you don’t want to invite all of your friends set up a list of friends who are at your university.)

Beyond facebook

Using Twitter: Use your own twitter to publicize stuff about your meetups/events to your followers. If you want to use a Twitter account for your group: regularly post short statuses / quotes / one-liners / links and so on (similar to updating a facebook page). Shorten links using the http://bit.ly website or similar. Try to follow people who have a large following in similar fields, and engage them in conversation or retweet them to get yourself noticed by their followers. It is also possible to attract attention by following people and then they get a notification, although this is considered bad twitter manners. From your twitter settings you can also connect facebook to twitter.

You can use an API to manage multiple twitter and facebook posts and to schedule future posts. A good one for beginners is Hootsuite. Sign up for a free account and use the box in the top right to schedule future facebook and twitter posts.

There may also be other social media tools like facebook that are specific to your country, location or college that might be useful to use.

Other popular social media sites are Google+, Pinterest and Foursquare

Constitution Writing Guide

Colleges generally require student groups seeking recognition (in order to use the school name, receive funding, etc.) to submit a formal constitution. This is meant to give long-term structure to the group by formally specifying its purpose, leadership, scope, and decision-making process.

Find your school’s requirements

Most schools publish their own unique list of requirements that submitted constitutions must fulfill. This can generally be found online on the website of the “Office of Student Life”, the “Student Leadership Center,” or a similarly named organization. (The fastest way to find them is generally to google “[college name] student group constitution”.) LEAN has written an example Constitution, which hopefully can be quickly edited to bring it in line with your institution’s requirements.

The requirements list will generally specify some of three things:

A required format- for example, Article 1: Name, Article 2: Statement of Purpose, etc.

Information that is required to be in these articles.

We’ve tried to make our sample articles below fairly inclusive; however, there will inevitably be requirements our example does not cover. Go ahead and write these out yourself; if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Required passages- for example, UC Berkeley requires all groups to state that “We will not haze according to California State Law.”

Required passages can be copied and pasted from the requirements list onto the constitution in the appropriate place.

If your school doesn’t have any specific requirements for constitutions, that’s great news! You can just copy and paste the sample constitution, provided below, and submit it.

Sample Constitution

We’ve written a sample constitution as an example of the style and substance most colleges desire. This will almost certainly not fulfill your institution’s requirements; however, it should require only a few bits of editing to bring into line with those requirements. (Also: this is just an example, designed to make it easier to found a meetup; if you wish to write your own constitution, go for it!)

Article 1: Name

Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN)

Article 2: Statement of Purpose

Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN) aims to build a global network of “effective altruists” – people who apply strategy and creativity to maximizing their positive impact on the world.

[If that’s too short, you can add:] Effective altruists are starting student chapters at colleges around the world. These chapters will explain the ideas in effective altruism – effective giving, ethical career choice, high impact research, self-improvement, etc. – and will show how to put those ideas into practice.

As more and more people get involved, we will have a larger and larger positive impact on the world. We will direct more money to the most effective charities. We will help more people choose the highest impact careers. More aspiring scientists will choose high impact research questions. We will raise people out of poverty, cure diseases, save lives – and eventually make the world as awesome as we can.

Article 3: Criteria for Membership

1: All registered [institution] students are eligible for membership.

2: Community members and students from other schools are always welcome at all LEAN events, unless otherwise specified.

3: Members of LEAN will be considered for expulsion if they create a disruptive environment for other members. Prior to expulsion, the member will receive an explicit verbal warning, and an additional explicit electronic or written warning. The individual in question will have one final opportunity to appeal to the Executive Board before expulsion.

Article 4: Structure and Duties of the Executive Board

1: The Executive Board shall consist of the following officers: President, Treasurer, and Secretary

2: The President may represent the organization, conduct Executive Board and general meetings, assign duties to and supervise officers, schedule and plan elections, and chart a vision for the organization.

3: The Treasurer may maintain the account of the organization, work with the Board and membership to determine budgets, apply for available funding, pay bills of the organization when receipts for expenditures are turned in, submit quarterly reports to the membership, coordinate fundraising, and disburse monies as the organization may direct.

4: The Secretary may maintain a yearly calendar of activities and goals, keep minutes of meetings, give written notice to all members of meetings and the agenda to be covered, issue press releases when deemed appropriate by the Board, maintain the LEAN email list, and tally votes during any voting procedure.

Article 5: Election and Removal of Officers

1: Any members of the organization who show demonstrated commitment are eligible for candidacy.

2: Officers may only hold one position at a time. There is no term limit.

3: All officers shall serve for a term of one year. Elections for the officers of the forthcoming year will take place no later than May 1st of each year.

4: The candidate for each office receiving a simple majority of votes cast at the election will be considered the victor. In the event that no candidate receives a simple majority, a run-off shall be held between the two candidates who obtained the most votes.

Article 6: Dissolution

1: Dissolution of LEAN shall be decided by consensus.

2: In case of dissolution, all funds and property shall be bequeathed to LEAN’s national organization, a 501©(3) charitable organization.

Article 7: Amendment

1: Amendments can be proposed by any member of the organization.

2: At least one week prior to any vote, the Secretary must distribute a copy of the proposed amendment to all members.

3: A majority vote shall be required to amend this Constitution.

If your institution requires contact information for LEAN’s national organization, it is:

The Local Effective Altruism Network

Charity Science Foundation of Canada

4800 Wintergreen Avenue

Richmond, BC

V7C 3X2

Canada

Utilizing the Office of Student Affairs

Get a copy of any booklet that Student Affairs produces for campus organizations.

Find out what resources are available to you, e.g.:

Rooms to meet in

Tables & chairs for publicity events

AV equipment

Printing and copying

Permanent email address for your group

See if there are any events and/or awareness-raising weeks organised by Student Affairs, which you might be able to link up with (e.g. One World Week). You may be able to get free publicity and resources through these.

Find out if there is a contact list for other groups. Get in touch with like-minded groups and check their meeting and event times. You may want to recruit members or you may want to team up with them for certain activities and events.

Check what sources of funding/grants are available for student groups.

Are there any committees that it would be useful for your group to have input on (e.g. Campaigns, Student Activities, Clubs and Societies, or any that determine the distribution of funds)? If so, consider encouraging members of your group to stand for election to them.

Talking about effective altruism

Effective altruism isn’t common knowledge yet, so your involvement in the group could be a great

conversation starter and often require explanation. Or maybe you’re advertising for a

launch event at your university and would like to know how to approach people about it.

Here are some helpful tips for communicating about effective altruism.

Build off their beliefs, not yours.

So far, we don’t have any proof that a certain moral theory is correct. Keep this in mind when you speak with people. Their morals might say that family is of the utmost importance and yours that all people have equal moral value. Instead of trying to convince them they’re wrong, talk about how they approach their goals. Do they question their beliefs as well as those of others? Do they take into account that some things would just be done by other people if they choose to do something else?

Remember that most people agree on basic moral principles like suffering is generally not a good idea. Draw from their beliefs, while remaining intellectually sceptical. Don’t try to tell them they have to be altruistic. This language usually isn’t necessary as most people have similar basic senses of right and wrong.

Be optimistic.

Most people can agree the world isn’t a morally perfect place, but think about how often people are bombarded by this message. In a way, we are numb to messages like “Feel sorry for ____.” These messages were effective at first, but as everyone uses them, they lose their touch. Instead, talk about results. If your friend is passionate about animal rights, tell them some estimates of how many animals are saved by being vegetarian or vegan.

Remember that you don’t have to insist the world is a beautiful, wonderful place. But you can make a good case for the positive differences that can be made by an individual’s choices. Acknowledge there is a lot of bad in the world and could be more to come, but focus on how you can create good.

Focus on the strategy, not the cause.

Perhaps the touchiest subject within effective altruism’s ideas is effective philanthropy, or where to put your resources whether it’s wealth, time, influence, or something else. Remember that recommending a global poverty charity is not saying people don’t need help in the developed world. Talk about strategies for assessing causes and let people take it themselves from there.

If someone is feeling uncomfortable or defensive discussing specifics, it might be time to move on to something else. Talk about how they can improve a specific cause more effectively or choose their career to improve their chances of being successful in this. There are plenty of ways to be an effective altruist, no need to dwell on uncomfortable topics. If you can capture their interest in other things, then they will approach the tough questions in their own time.

Take your time.

Speaking of their own time, no need to rush people to make decisions. A lot of people have never given much thought to the topics we discuss, and it takes time to develop their own passion and beliefs. For example, if you just discussed possible existential risks that could threaten the existence of humanity, try waiting a day or two to ask them their thoughts on it if they seem new to the topic. Let them absorb the information.

Catch them with honey.

After initially ‘pitching’ effective altruism to someone, remember there is a good chance it just won’t spark their interest. Not everyone gets excited by these topics. Instead of trying to forcefully convince them they should be interested, continue to do things, both online and off, which they may notice or even be impressed by. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll come asking.

Don’t get disheartened. Only a small percentage of people out there will end up changing their actions, but when 1% of a college population or a dozen people in a city have got involved, we count that as a huge deal. It’s worth remembering how much good it will lead to, and how important this good is.

Inspiration From Other Groups

Most local effective altruism groups start with little experience and even less time. We’ve rounded up some stories from local groups to give you a sense of the processes involved in growing and developing a local presence.

This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.