START A GROUP

What is Involved in Running a Group? (City Groups)

Published 20th September 2019

Image: EA Sydney

Contents

Goals

The level of commitment required for starting and running a group is dependent on your goals for the group. Groups can be great for growing the EA movement and getting people more deeply involved, but maybe your group is just a great way to hang out with other like-minded people and introduce some better conversation to your day!

Possible goals your group could have include:

  • Introducing new people to the ideas of effective altruism
  • Giving existing EAs resources to help them become more effective
  • Creating a warm, tight-knit community to support members in their efforts to do good

If there are a few people in your city who are already interested in EA, it might be better to focus on supporting these people. If not, it might be more important to focus on outreach to new people at first.

Your goals will determine the types of events and activities you should run. Once you have other members of the group, their priorities can be incorporated and could shift your plan.

Different groups have very different goals, but the most common goals of EA groups are assisting EAs to take effective career paths, recruiting new people to effective altruism and making the group welcoming. This is shown below (from the Local Group Survey 2019).

Who Should Start a City Group?

Starting a city group is a good idea for someone who:

  • Is dedicated to improving the world
  • Is friendly and enthusiastic about helping others get more involved
  • Is knowledgeable about EA
  • Has some time available to commit to running the group

If the above don’t all apply to you, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t start a group—you just might face more difficulties in getting the group off the ground.

Time

If your minimum goal is to simply meet with other local EAs occasionally, the organising time could be as little as a few hours per month. As the group grows or if the goal is to promote effective altruism within your city by hosting events, it will obviously require more time and, probably, people.

Allow time for planning and running events, as well as:

  • Following up with people after events
  • Having one-on-one chats with group members
  • Responding to email and Facebook/Meetup messages
  • Organising mailing lists
  • Receiving feedback, plus
  • Staying up-to-date with relevant news in the EA movement

In this article, one of the organisers of EA London explains how he ran the group for only 30 minutes a month. This is quite exceptional, as most group organisers spend significantly more time than this and EA London now has a full-time community builder, but the article shows that it is possible to have a group without investing much time.

Number of Organisers

The number of people needed is once again dependent on your goals. If your goal is to run larger events and a bigger group, then having several core members is good, with additional committee members and volunteers as needed. But if you don’t have this, don’t worry; small and new groups can easily be managed by one person and you can run a group just fine like this. Besides, while running a small group you might find other people interested in helping you organise it.

Here are some ways to find individual EAs in your area who might want to help organise:

  • Ask any existing EA connections you have if they know anyone else in your area
  • Search for “[your location] Effective Altruism” on Facebook
  • Search on the EA Hub, here.

If you haven’t found anything, post in the EA Hangout Facebook group, asking if anyone is in your area.

Quality over quantity is a good rule of thumb—if you are lucky enough to find one very dedicated person to work with you, this is preferable to having 10 who can “help out”, as this dedicated person will be able to help make decisions and take charge of parts of the organising. Ten helpers require coordination and management.

If you don’t have other organisers, it is worth asking a friend or two to come to the first couple of meetups with you—moral support goes a long way!

Collaboration with Uni Groups

If your city has a university with an EA group or has EAs at the university interested in starting a group, it may suit you to collaborate. Uni groups can often host events for free in university spaces, and making a city-university partnership might make sense for small groups as it requires less work than two separate groups. Note that students and non-students often have different preferences on the style, location, and time of the event, so if you choose to do a city-university partnership make sure you are catering to both groups.

Some groups used this model to start their group as follows:

  • EA Wellington formed their group as a city/uni combination group
  • EA Cambridge is based at the University but tries to make most of their events accessible to non-students and runs many events specifically for non-students
  • EA ANU used to act as a city-university partnership but later chose to split the non-students off into a separate EA Canberra group

Organising your Organisers

Once you have more than a couple of people helping run your group, it is important to have regular meetings, ensure each person is clear on their tasks to avoid repetition or important tasks getting missed. Some larger groups have found creating formal roles useful in the group, and a few groups have chosen to incorporate to be an official organisation – which can help the group remain well organised, get public liability insurance, and ensure clear ownership of assets.

Information and tips on organising your organisers such as communication tools, organisational structures, ways of running meetings, and incorporations can be found here.


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