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. 

The six parts of the funnel are as follows:

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):

Effective altruism groups can work on one, two, or all three factors in their work:

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:

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:

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.