Before you begin

Before you begin

Last updated: 4th October, 2023

1. Introduction

This guide is primarily intended for individuals considering starting a new city or university group. However, it may also be useful for individuals starting a national group or a group that focuses on a specific subset of EA, or new organisers of existing groups.

Before you get started, double-check whether there is already a group in your university or city, and try to find out if there are other people interested in starting a group - maybe you can work together. If there are existing EA groups in nearby cities or universities, it might be helpful to get involved in them before you embark on your own.

To find local EAs (effective altruists), you can:

This guide to starting an EA group is a compilation of ideas from various group organisers around the world. Every organiser and group is different, and ideas that work well for one group may need to be adapted to work for another. So, use this guide as a starting point rather than a prescription, and seek advice from others.

2. Why start or run a group?

Thinking about starting or running an effective altruism group? Starting a group can be a great way to have an impact, and for many people, it is also an enjoyable way to connect with like-minded people. Here are three reasons why you might want to start a group.

  1. Multiply your impact. Imagine you introduce one person to effective altruism who is as talented and enthusiastic about doing good as you are. That may have the same impact as doubling your entire life’s work! We call this the "multiplier effect" — if you're able to get many people to donate to effective charities or dedicate their careers to high-impact ways of doing good, this can have an especially large impact. (Though it's important to be wary of the meta trap.)
  2. Help people become more engaged with effective altruism. While only 5% of EAs report that they first heard about effective altruism through a group, 23% said their group was important for helping them get more involved in the movement. Also, people who were introduced to effective altruism via a group are disproportionately likely to take the Giving What We Can pledge or change their career plans for effective altruism reasons. Attending regular in-person events with other EAs can give potential EAs the structure, resources, and social ties to become more deeply involved with the movement and have a larger impact.
  3. Learn event planning and organisation skills. If you're interested in working at an effective altruism organisation, especially in operations or event planning — running an effective altruism group can be a great way to develop and showcase your organisational skills.

See our How do EA groups produce impact? page for further information!

3. Optional further reading

  • This article from 80,000 Hours outlines reasons for and against working in community building for effective altruism. It is mostly directed towards people who are considering doing this as a job, so if you are unsure whether to get into community building or do something else with your time, this article might help you decide.