Image: LSE EA
Working with a co-organiser lets you share the tasks of starting and running a group, and also can be good for your motivation. If you don’t have co-organisers, you may still want to talk through your plans with friends or other group organisers.
Utilising Virtual Programs/Fellowships
The best way we've seen to get an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team is to encourage people in your university/city to participate in an introductory EA program or fellowship. This method has worked well for getting university groups started during the pandemic, but we haven't had as much experience testing this with city groups and when there are no pandemic restrictions.
You could run an in-person fellowship if you are in a position to run a fellowship by yourself, or are able to get assistance from other EAs locally. Otherwise, you can outsource this work to Virtual Programs. This involves:
Advertising Virtual Programs to people in their university/city. The Virtual Programs team will try to put all the participants from your city/university in the same cohorts.
At the end of the program, meet with any participants that are interested in joining a group.
Ideally, you would also facilitate some cohorts and organise in-person social events for participants.
Contact CEA's Groups team on email@example.com if you'd like to utilise Virtual Programs. We can connect you to the Virtual Programs coordinator and give marketing advice and support.
Finding EAs in your city/university
Other ways to find potential co-organisers:
Ask your friends who are interested in effective altruism. Even if you don't know other people deeply interested in EA, you could ask a few friends who are curious about EA or to attend your first few events.
Ask existing EA connections if they know anyone else in your area.
Check if any members of a local city group are staff or students at your university. Find groups here.
Put up posters around the university that say “Have you heard of Effective Altruism? If so, contact us!” (with an official-looking email address). The first EA NTNU organiser found co-organisers this way during the term before they started the group.
If you don’t have the capacity to run a table at your university’s clubs fair by yourself, ask other community members in the same region to come to your university for the day to help.
If you can run a clubs fair, you might meet people who already know about effective altruism there. Schedule one-on-one chats with them to talk more about their interest in effective altruism and whether they’d be interested in helping to organise.
If none of these options works out and you have the capacity, you could host a few smaller events by yourself and then ask any enthusiastic attendees to help run the group.
If you're registering with a university, you will probably need several people to be members of the group and to take positions on the committee. If you don’t have sufficient numbers you can ask friends to put their names down, just make sure you are upfront about their responsibilities, and what the procedure would be for updating the committee member names when you do have more members.
In the early stages of a group, you might need to ask people to help out, even if they aren't fully committed to effective altruism or a great fit for community building. However, it is best to wait until you know a person's level of knowledge about and their commitment to effective altruism, as well as their personal attributes before asking them to take on a significant responsibility of being a co-organiser.
People who are less committed or knowledgeable might be less likely to perform their duties reliably and carefully, make decisions that don’t align with your goals, and potentially hurt the group’s reputation by appearing unenthusiastic or sharing inaccurate information.
It could be prudent to screen potential co-organisers (e.g. if you have the capacity, through an application process such as this one by EA Blue) or by making a list of all the requirements you want your co-organiser(s) to have. This could include weekly time commitments, level of knowledge of EA, how often you want them to stay in communication with you, etc. It is sometimes better to complete tasks yourself than to delegate to people who aren’t going to do a quality job.
When you do have a group of organisers, it is worth investing time into ensuring the team works well together. See more resources on this in our running a group section.