How to Publicise Your Group

Publicising your group is one of your most important tasks as a group organiser — there's no point in having a group if you don't have members! Below are some ways to find people potentially interested in EA and connect them with your group.

Ideas for Promoting EA Groups

Joining other groups

EA groups often grow through personal connections. One way to expand personal connections is for group members to join groups that they are interested in, and are likely to have members that could be interested in EA. Mentioning EA ideas in conversations during events can help recruit group members. Some potential groups to join include:

  • Advocacy groups such as animal, climate or human rights groups

  • Philosophy groups

  • Humanist groups

  • Rationalist groups

  • Sceptics groups

  • Debating societies

Remember that EA ideas can come across as judgemental, so members hoping to recruit people through attending other groups should only join groups they are strongly interested in already, and be especially careful to avoid coming across as critical of what the group is doing, and to check out some good ways of communicating about EA.

Other mailing lists

Other local organisations or clubs may be willing to advertise some of your events on their mailing lists and social media platforms. Some may request that you do the same for their events in return, but it would be best if you only agree to do this for events that are EA-aligned and won’t result in you over-representing a particular cause area.

Groups are only likely to want to occasionally advertise your group, so only ask when it is most likely to have an impact. For example, when there is a high-profile speaker of interest to their group, or to advertise an introductory fellowship.

A good place to start is with groups that you have connections with. Beyond that, you can also cold email other student groups explaining why you think their group members would be particularly interested in your fellowship or event and asking them to send something to their group members.

When reaching out, include something they can easily copy and paste to email to their group’s mailing list. If you are sending them a Facebook message, include a post from your Facebook page that they can easily share on their group’s Facebook page.

Giving Introduction to EA Talks

If you are a confident presenter, hosting an Intro to EA talk is a great way to promote both your local group and the movement as a whole. However, you should take caution to follow the guidelines under General Tips, be well versed in EA and how to represent the movement accurately. Check out our more detailed page about giving introductory presentations.

If you don’t feel comfortable presenting you can also have an Info Session where you screen a video of an Intro to EA presentation. After the video you can talk about what your group does and answer any questions people have.

Word of Mouth

Invite people from your personal network who you think would be a good fit, send them a personal message, and ask them to bring friends. And ask your group members to do the same. For example, some uni groups ask fellowship graduates to refer friends to the next fellowship.

In many cultures it is common for people to be private about their altruistic acts, which makes it hard to normalise altruism. Talking with regular members about the reasons to be public with their giving may encourage people to share their actions.

For tips on talking about EA, check out this guide.

Of course, the best way to encourage your members to recommend the group to their friends is to have content good enough that they want to!

Ideas for Promoting University Groups

Clubs Fairs and Tabling

Most universities host fairs where clubs can attract new members, and some universities allow groups to set up a table in a communal area at other times of the year (tabling). This page provides guidelines on how to run clubs fair and tabling events. Stanford EA has also written a Guide to Tabling.

Advertise in Lectures

Some group leaders have successfully asked professors to make an announcement about their group during class. Most reach out to professors they know or those that teach relevant subjects like economics and philosophy, but mass cold-emailing might also get you some results. They will often say yes if you’ve made the effort of writing a personal, high-quality email to them. Some professors will also allow you to make a short statement at the start of a relevant class. See our guide to reaching out to academics for more advice on this.

Asking the Career Services Department

If you are planning a careers workshop, university careers departments may be interested in advertising your event, but this seems to vary a lot from uni to uni. Some EA groups have encountered some resistance from Career Services, possibly because EA career workshops are run by people without training in careers advice, or may be viewed as not providing impartial advice. The first step would be to make a time to chat with a careers staff member and show them 80,000 Hours materials.

Running Events During Admitted Students Weekend

Some university groups have had a lot of success from planning events during their university's admitted students weekends. Not all universities have this, but if yours does, this (or other events early on in the year) can be a great opportunity to get noticed before students get engaged with other projects. Stanford EA wrote about their experience with this in their post, Tips for Engaging Prospective First-Year Students.

Professors who talk about EA in their courses

Pay attention to professors who bring up EA (and related ideas/literature), by checking out your course catalogues and asking students who attend events/fellowships where they’ve heard of EA before.

Find out how the professor presents effective altruism by asking students that have taken their course to share their experiences, notes, or recorded lectures.

If they appear to be strongly in favour of EA and is proactively sharing effective altruism resources in their class (e.g. mentioning the 80,000 Hours podcast, or recommending EA books or content) please email Catherine Low from CEA’s groups team (catherine@centreforeffectivealtruism.org), sharing a brief description of the professor, their background, their level of familiarity / interest in effective altruism. This could be a particularly valuable connection if the professor is at the top of their academic field. The CEA groups team will share the information with community members specializing in building the Global Priorities Research Field who may reach out to this professor.

You may wish to invite them to give a talk or attend a dinner. They also might be willing to tell their students about your group, or even have a group member talk to their students during a lecture.

If you believe their representation of EA is poor, and could give prospective group members a negative impression of EA, please get in touch with Catherine Low from CEA’s groups team (catherine@centreforeffectivealtruism.org) for some advice. This problem might arise if the professor conflates EA with utilitarianism, earning to give, and donating to evidence-based global health charities, and encourages students to critique EA based on this misconception. It might be worth someone knowledgeable about EA talking to the professor, but it needs to be done carefully to be successful.

If you are unsure about whether and how to reach out to a professor, contact Catherine from CEA’s groups team. She’ll be able to offer advice or connect you to someone else.

Journalists and Broader Outreach

If you are approached by a journalist or are interested in writing EA articles for wide distribution read this guide from CEA about talking to journalists, this forum post about what to know before talking to journalists, and “The fidelity model of spreading ideas” then get in touch with Nicole Ross, from CEA's Community Health Team, at media@centreforeffectivealtruism.org for advice.

Other related links