Your First Event
What you should do for your first event will depend on the type of group you want to run and the size of the audience you expect to have. Especially at universities, attendees will be trying to figure out whether your club is worth investing more of their time in, so do your best to run an attractive, exciting and inspiring first event.
Ideas for Your First Event
Here are some ideas for what to do during the first event:
If you are expecting more than half of the attendees to be fairly unfamiliar with effective altruism concepts, it is best to focus the event on covering EA ideas – either by running a workshop or by using a reading or short video to introduce effective altruism and spark discussions. Social events where more than half of the people are new to effective altruism can result in new people talking mostly with each other and gaining an incorrect or incomplete impression of EA.
Give an intro to effective altruism presentation or workshop. This might be a good idea if you have confident speakers and are expecting more than 10 people to turn up. We recommend making this interactive so that people get to think and discuss ideas. You could run quizzes, a giving game (where participants choose which charity to donate a pot of money to), and/or a cause-prioritization activity (where participants assess a few cause areas and try to work out which is the most pressing).
Read or view an introduction to EA, and discuss it. Some candidates are the articles Introduction to EA and Do Unto Others, and the videos What are the Most Important Moral Problems of Our Time (by Will MacAskill) and Introduction to Effective Altruism at EAGxBerkeley 2016 (by Ajeya Cotra). Resources and tips for holding discussion groups are here.
Invite a speaker to talk about effective altruism, if you have one in your area. Here is more information about how to run speaker events.
If you are expecting most of your attendees to be people who are already quite familiar with EA, having a social event may work well. The social event could be held at a café, be a potluck at a member’s house, or be a picnic (weather permitting) etc. Since effective altruism will likely be new to some people, have a short explanation of effective altruism prepared so everyone knows what your group is about. Check out the approaches to explaining effective altruism here to develop your own explanation. It is worth preparing a few questions that people can ask each other to spark discussion.
People’s first impression of effective altruism is likely to stick, so if your event only covers one aspect of effective altruism, people might come away with the idea that this aspect is all there is to EA. So whatever you choose to do at your first event, make sure part of the event includes a clear explanation about what effective altruism is, and give people a taste of the different cause areas and ways to effectively contribute (through their career, donations, volunteering). This is useful to do whenever you have several new people attending.
Our Event Guides
Don’t be discouraged if not many people show up. It's okay to just have 5-10 people in your first event. Many thriving groups started out small and built up attendance over the years. Your group also doesn't have to be large to be successful.
After Your First Event
At the end of your first event, invite people to any subsequent events you have planned, even if you don’t have all the details confirmed. Or make sure to get their emails or add them to a Facebook group or groupchat.
After you run your first event, or even before it, you could consider thinking about how you will get people in your university or area to get a good understanding of EA. One of the best ways to get them engaged in EA and to have them understand its various concepts and causes is through an Intro to EA fellowship. Fellowships are usually 8-10 week discussion groups for committed participants. You can learn more about fellowships here.
Here is an EA Forum post about how EA Stanford uses the first few university weeks to their full potential.