Creating a local effective altruist presence - in 52 new cities so far

Updated on March 7th to add the cities and countries listed at the bottom. Since then the total's kept climbing and the groups have kept developing - for the latest, see the list (and map) of EA groups.

I've been working on creating local effective altruist presences around the world, arranging a way for people interested in EA to meet others nearby so that they can find out more about it or feel more part of a community. To this end, I’ve talked to a great many EAs I know around the world and created local presences in 52 cities without previous EA groups (or in a few cases regions, or countries with their own language).

Given past experience I thought it’d make sense to start with something modest and undemanding that can easily be kept up. So I recruited people who others nearby interested in effective altruism can get in touch with. The idea is that they can meet up over a coffee, or simply talk by email. It often takes a fair bit of in-person communication for people to resolve any initial questions and the message to click. If you might be happy to do this for your own city then I’d love to hear from you.

I’ve also discussed running group meetups with them, and a few are planning this already. To start with these could be occasional social meetups - often thought of as one of the most promising kinds - held as often as local people like. In many cases we only know of a few people nearby, but the hope is that these local presences will sometimes turn up others, and they provide seeds that can grow into full-blown groups.

I’m grateful to Sam Hilton for recently convincing me - from an initial position of some scepticism! - that work on local outreach might be highly valuable. I decided that this was a good quick way to test that out. Sam put me in touch with THINK (The High Impact Network), the longstanding coordinator of new EA meetups, and they’re kindly letting me organise this now with this project. I’ll be updating the THINK website to feature it soon.

People will be able to find these local presences on the list (and map) of EA groups. Without further ado, here they are:

Buenos Aires, Argentina (pre-existing presence)
Adelaide, Australia
Perth, Australia
Waterloo, Canada
Beijing, China (pre-existing presence - my brother)
Hong Kong, China
Brno, Czech Republic
Prague, Czech Republic
Paris, France
Lyon, France (pre-existing presence)
Kiel, Germany
Leipzig, Germany
Munich, Germany
Ruhrgebiet, Germany
Ulm, Germany
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Christchurch, New Zealand
Goteborg, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden
Brighton, United Kingdom
Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
South Bucks, United Kingdom
Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Albany, United States
Ann Arbor, United States
Atlanta, United States
Austin, United States
Bay Area, United States
Brown, United States
Central Illinois, United States
Central Massachusetts, United States
Central Virginia, United States
Columbus, United States
Cornell, United States
Dallas, United States
Houston, United States
Los Angeles, United States
Minneapolis, United States
Northwest Arkansas, United States
Oberlin College, United States
Phoenix, United States
Portland, United States
Reno, United States
Rochester, United States
Sacramento, United States
Salt Lake City, United States
University of Idaho, United States
Western Mass, United States

Additions on March 7th:

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Adelaide, Australia
Hong Kong, China
Kiel, Germany
Leipzig, Germany
Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Albany, United States
Central Massachusetts, United States
Central Virginia, United States
Dallas, United States
Portland, United States
Sacramento, United States
University of Idaho, United States

Comments (7)

Comment author: lukeprog 25 February 2015 12:11:05AM 4 points [-]

Thanks for doing this, Tom!

Comment author: SoerenMind  (EA Profile) 24 February 2015 11:44:24AM 0 points [-]

"It often takes a fair bit of in-person communication for people to resolve any initial questions and the message to click."

Is this the new 'consensus'? What is it based on? I've heard some say on facebook that ususally people either get EA right away or they don't end up getting it at all.

Comment author: Tom_Ash  (EA Profile) 24 February 2015 03:08:17PM 1 point [-]

I'm pretty sure I've said something like that myself ;) However I don't think that's contradictory. Rather, I think there are 3 categories of people:

  • People who were sold on the ideas and often taking the actions before hearing about EA.
  • People who when they hear about EA are quite sceptical.
  • People who when they hear about EA have a more positive reaction than that.

What I've meant is that barely any people in the 2nd category end up as EAs. I base that partly on the fact that I don't know of any such people (having asked others if they do, and knowing quite a few EAs myself). So the sentence you quoted was about the 3rd category of people.

I do think that the 1st category is larger than the 3rd based on the people I know about, which does reduce this aspect of the value of the project. However plausibly some of these people wouldn't otherwise have found equally effective charities.

Comment author: Ben_Todd 24 February 2015 02:02:05PM 0 points [-]

In my experience, it's both! Some people are drawn to it right away, whereas others find it really unintuitive. And then, most people require some serious reflection before really getting involved, and this often happens through lots of conversations, though I think it could also happen via reading loads online or online communities.

Comment author: AlCasey 23 February 2015 08:37:45AM 0 points [-]

Hi, I'm new in the group, and this is the first post that I have read. And I find myself realising that you can find the most useful resources if you look properly. As social entrepreneurs, we are about to launch a project whose objective is to provide the cash-flow to fund social causes in each city or country where the product is purchased.
As a part of the overall strategy, we will be taking a co-creation workshop on the road, and have been trying to formulate a list of cities that we could visit. The roadshow will co-create versions of our product, with a percentage of profits funding social impact organisations (charities, NGOs) that have been identified by our community in each city/country that we visit. I also see the ability to work with networks of local consultants that can contract their services, at market rates, to the social impact organisations, through our funding. I just need a bit of help on this last piece. Anyhow, is the list above a good place to start as we think about where we would take our event?

Comment author: Tom_Ash  (EA Profile) 24 February 2015 08:39:07AM 0 points [-]

Hi, this isn't really a good place to start as these local presences are pretty new and small, and I don't want to overwhelm them as they mostly signed up for something minimal. Plus what Ryan said - at least from what you say, it's not clear that the effective altruist community will be the best audience for you, as it's quite specific and in particular funds quite a small range of organisations.

Comment author: RyanCarey 23 February 2015 05:26:30PM 0 points [-]

Hey AlCasey, The above is a list of people who are interested in finding the charities that are the highest in impact, it's a bit more specific than just social entrepreneurship in general, so you might find interested people there, or not, depending.