Models of Movement Building
EAs have created or cited several models of movement building, which can be helpful for developing strategy for groups and other community-building organisations. Here are some of the most relevant movement-building models you may wish to integrate into your strategy.
The Funnel Model
CEA sometimes refers to the funnel model, which is similar to the Sales Funnel often discussed in business. While the effective altruism movement differs from businesses in many ways, we think this model is useful for understanding how people become more deeply engaged in our community.
Effective Altruism groups generally want to either retain people in the funnel or, ideally, move people further along in the funnel. Small EA groups may decide to focus on just one part of the funnel, while larger groups may focus on all or most parts. This article describes ways that groups can use the funnel model to inform their groups activities. EA Foundation also suggests stages similar to the funnel model as well as ideas about ways to move people through the funnel.
For a different perspective, Vaidehi Agarwalla & Arjun Khandelwal have written a critique and alternative to the funnel model which focuses more on individual contributions.
Three-Factor Model of Community-Building
The three-factor model of community-building describes the amount of good someone can be expected to do as being the product of three factors (in a mathematical sense):
Resources: The scale of the resources (money, skills, etc.) they have to offer;
Dedication: The proportion of those resources that they devote to helping;
Realization: How efficiently those resources devoted to helping are actually used.
Effective altruism groups can work on one, two, or all three factors in their work:
A group can increase its members' resources through workshops, and connecting members with internship and funding opportunities in the community.
A group can increase its members' dedication by promoting Giving What We Can, or encouraging people to pursue a high-impact career
A group can increase its members' realization by promoting charity evaluators or helping individuals find roles that match their skills
The Fidelity Model
The fidelity model states suggests that we can put mechanisms for spreading a message on a continuum between mechanisms that retain almost nothing of the original message and those that retain almost everything of the original message. Those that retain most of the original message are very high fidelity and those that retain little of the original message are very low fidelity.
We can analyze the fidelity of a particular mechanism for spreading EA by looking at four components:
Breadth: How many ideas can you explore?
Depth: How much nuance can you add to the ideas?
Environment: Will the audience be in an environment that is conducive to updating their opinions?
Feedback: Can you adapt your message over time to improve its fidelity?
In general, we want to avoid spreading EA ideas through low-fidelity channels, like political arguments on Twitter, and instead use high-fidelity environments, like one-on-one conversations.
The Awareness-Inclination Model
The Awareness/Inclination Model considers two factors relevant to movement building: how aware people are of a movement's ideas, and how favorably they feel, or would feel, towards the ideas. Owen Cotton-Barratt argues that it is more important to focus on increasing awareness than improving inclination, if:
the movement has a natural maximum size that we cannot change; or
essentially everyone will join the movement after they know enough about it; or
direct work earlier is much more important than direct work; or
it is very hard to change inclination relative to awareness.
Otherwise, focusing on improving inclination is more important. We can increase inclination by being considerate towards others, avoiding needless controversy, and getting involved with direct work.