Social Events

The goal of social events is often to facilitate connections and feelings of community among group members. Social events can also teach people about EA concepts, but many group members choose to use socials as a way to get to know each other outside of the context of EA. 

Social events are often more comfortable for people who already know each other, and can be less fun for new people, or people who are less confident conversationalists. Hosts should join people who are sitting by themselves, or who are listening but not contributing to the conversation, and make them feel welcomed.

If you are expecting people who are new to EA to come along to your social event, it is helpful to give a short introduction to EA - either to the whole group, or invite new people to chat with some experienced members of the group to give them an overview. Check out the Communicating about EA section for ideas on what to say in an introduction, or choose one of the short introductions to EA.

EA London analysed the gender split of their events and found that their social events were male-dominated while other events (talks, reading groups) were gender-balanced, so it is worth considering whether your social events are appealing to a diverse group of people interested in EA.


Should my social be structured or unstructured?

Having a structure to your social event gets conversations flowing and helps people to get to know each other. Some structure is ideal in situations where:

Unstructured socials require less organisation and allow people to talk about whatever they like. Running these is fine, but it’s best to run some structured social events as well. If you’re concerned about meetings getting formal, kick off with a casual activity to get everyone relaxed and familiar with each other.

An anecdote from one organiser: “I ran a casual picnic with no structured conversation, and half the people that turned up were unfamiliar with EA. Several of them talked to each other about quite ineffective altruistic topics, probably thinking all along they were learning about EA. I attempted to guide their conversations a bit, but it came off a bit forced. In this situation, it would have been better to have some structure to the social event. Those new people would have gotten a more accurate picture of EA during their first event.”

One-on-Ones and Icebreakers

One-on-one conversations between community members are often the highest-rated parts of EA retreats (as reported by London and New Zealand retreat attendees). These conversations can be arranged in regular social meetups if you don’t have the luxury of a retreat. While retreats often have 20 or 30 minute long conversations, for shorter events you may wish to have shorter times.

While many people are happy to chat away without prompts, it can be nice to have a few suggested questions that can get people started. 

If you're running a virtual event, Gatheround can be a great way to set-up one-on-ones. See our Gatheround Guide for more information.

Image: EA Norway

Non-EA Themed Activities

Some EA groups have arranged activities that are not EA related, but can be a great way for members to get to know each other outside the context of EA (or have conversations about EA topics they're interested in.

EA Themed Activities

Speed Updating

“When thoughtful people with access to the same information reach very different conclusions from each other, we should be curious about why” - Julia Galef

‘Speed Updating’ (a play on the term ‘speed dating’), also known as ‘Productive Disagreements’, involves participants getting matched with a person that disagrees with them about a topic for around 10 minutes (can be more or less depending on the question or time available). The goal is to find out the cause of the disagreement, and potentially “update” your position. This activity has been used with excellent reviews in EA UQ, EA ANU, and EA Christchurch. Then people move onto a different question, and a different conversation partner.

This activity can be run many times with the same group, choosing different sets of questions each time. You may wish to theme each Speed Updating session to tackle different topics. Groups have run sessions on cause prioritisation, mental health, and ethics, but there could be an infinite number of themes.

Choosing questions

Ways of finding disagreeing partners

Running the event

EA “Would You Rather”

These are a series of questions, where people choose which of two scenarios they’d prefer, e.g. ‘Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?’ (but EA “Would You Rather”s usually have more EA related questions than this one).

"Would you rather?" can be a good icebreaker activity ahead of other events as well.

Charity Superfight

A game where participants choose three cards to make up the purpose of a silly charity, in the form of “My charity (activity) (recipients) in (location/additional info)”. Participants then have to argue why their charity is the best using the “Scale, Neglectedness, Tractability” framework. Instructions and sample cards are here. By Rebecca Baron.

Fermi Estimation Competition

Fermi Estimates are rough numerical estimates of unknown quantities, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, who was famous for making uncannily accurate estimations with very little data. Usually, Fermi estimates are made by splitting up the problem into several factors that we can approximate, and then doing a simple calculation. This guide on LessWrong gives more information, and examples of Fermi estimates.

Fermi Estimation Competitions can be prepared by choosing a bunch of numerical questions that participants are unlikely to know off the top of their head, and finding the correct answer on the internet.

Question sources

How to run the session

EA Jeopardy

Jeopardy is a quiz game format where contestants or teams answer questions to get points. This EA Jeopardy game has a variety of questions already. Click “edit” and then clone the template so you can create your own version. A data projector or a large screen is required.

Wits and Wagers

This is a game where people in teams of 2-4 people are given questions with numerical questions. Everyone’s answers are then displayed on the screen then each team bets some or all of their points on the answers they think are the closest. The real answer is revealed then points are awarded for the closest answer and the most accurate bets.

This game can be a lot more engaging than regular quizzes because even if your team has no idea of the answers, you might be able to guess which of the other teams might know the answers and still win the game. There are also strategic decisions to make about betting.

The excel spreadsheet contains all the instructions to set up and run the game. It also completes all the calculations for the quizmaster.

The quizmaster will need to make up their own questions, and the quizmaster needs to find out the correct answers and enter the answers onto the spreadsheet before the game.

Required: A computer with Excel installed and data projector.

Quiz Night

Questions at quiz nights can be entirely EA-themed, but can also contain non-EA related questions. Ensure you choose your questions to suit your audience, as people may not enjoy the quiz if they can’t answer many questions.

EA Against Humanity

EA Against Humanity is a hilarious PG-13 and EA-themed adaptation of the party game “Cards Against Humanity,” in which any number of players tries to respond to a prompt with the funniest answer they can. The game is suitable for involved group members as newcomers won’t get many of the references, although you could choose to remove the more obscure references. This original tutorials explaining how to set up and then play the game virtually

Movie Nights

EA related movies, TV shows and documentaries can be both casual and informative for group members. 

For in-person events, make sure to pick a comfortable environment, and consider purchasing snacks for the group. For virtual events, Watch2Gether (browser-based) or Kast (all audience members must download the software) are two possible watch apps for watch parties. Zoom is also a possibility, but you'll want to make sure you share your audio for the best sound quality. 

Brian Tan of EA Philippines has created a ranked list of EA-related documentaries, movies, and TV shows. We also recommend the following:

Fiction movies


TV Shows

More movies and documentaries about global health, poverty and injustice can be found in The Life You Can Save’s film list.

EA Codenames

Codenames is a popular board game where a "Spymaster" gives one-word hints to try to get people to guess the codenames of their teams spies, without guessing the other teams', bystanders', or the assassin's names. If you've never played Codenames before, watch this three minute tutorial

You can play codenames virtually on, and find a spreadsheet of EA cards here. We recommend starting each round by making sure everyone knows what each word on the board means. 

Telestrations (also known as Telepictionary or Drawphone)

Telestrations is a game similar to "Telephone" or "Chinese Whispers", but with drawings. Everyone starts by either drawing a picture (or writing a prompt - generally everyone should do the same), then passes it to the person next to them. The person next to them has to guess what they drew (or draw the prompt), and passes it to the next. The game goes until the person receives their original prompt, and has a collection of all the drawings and guesses along the way. There's no winner in this game, but people tend to find the drawings and guesses entertaining.

You can play this game virtually using Gartic Phone or RocketCrab (turn on "players write the first word").  You can recommend players use EA-related prompts to give this game an EA twist. 

EA Pictionary

Pictionary is a game where one player draws a prompt and others (usually on their team, but it can be the whole group) try to guess the prompt. 

Virtual groups can use the Whiteboard function on Zoom to play this game. See this article for instructions. 

We don't currently have prompts for this, but you can pull some from the EA Codenames list above. Note that a lot of these prompts are very abstract and difficult to draw.  Contact us if you have prompts to share with the group!