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The CEA team has just returned from a week long team retreat in Somerville, following on from EA Global Boston. A lot has happened at CEA in just the last few weeks including the announcement of EA Grants, EA Global Boston and a strategic review of CEA’s goals.

In summary, in this update I cover:

  • CEA recruitment - we’ve extended the deadline for applications until _Friday 30th June_and would appreciate your recommendations for promising candidates. If you’re interested in working at CEA, but don’t see a role that fits, get in touch and let’s chat!
  • EA Grants - we’re experimenting with providing grant funding to promising projects in the EA community. The deadline for this first round of applications is Sunday 1st July.
  • EA Global Boston - This event focused on expanding the horizons of EA, to explore new cause areas and encourage people to think about taking risks with careers in high leverage areas.
  • How we think about doing the most good as the EA community grows - In his opening speech at EA global, Will MacAskill talked about the need for the community to shift from thinking about how to do the most good on an individual basis to from a group perspective.
  • Our first thoughts on Q3 goals for CEA - focus on encouraging high potential EAs to do more with their time and money. Now that the community has grown, we think that it’s time for many people in the community to update their plans, and we’d like to help.

CEA is hiring

First, a quick note that we have extended the deadline for applications to come work at CEA to Friday 30th Juneto give us a bit more time to follow up with individuals after EA Global Boston. We’re hiring for a number of positions including a Full Stack Developer, Assistant Producer for our Events Team, Grants Associate and Development Manager.

If you know any suitable candidates, please encourage them to apply or get in touch with me if you’d like to suggest candidates. If you’re interested in working at CEA in the future, but don’t see a role that’s great fit now, drop me a line and let’s chat about CEA’s future direction, and how your skills might fit in.

EA Grants

At EA Global Boston, Will unveiled a new CEA project; EA Grants. This project aims to provide funding of up to  £100,000 (~$130,000) to promising people and projects within the effective altruism community.

There are many talented and motivated individuals in our community. At CEA, we can’t do everything, so we’re hoping to spur the creation of new and exciting projects in the EA space. We believe that there are many people in the community who would take up direct work, if only they had secure funding.

This project is a successor to our previous project EA Ventures except that EA Grants already has funding (rather than seeking to match projects with donors) and is more focused on individuals than start-up projects. You can read more about this project in our announcement on the EA Forum.  Will MacAskill has also written up a list of projects he would personally like to see.

If you know of anyone currently exploring promising projects in effective altruism please encourage them to apply using this application form. The deadline for applications is 1 July 2017. If you have any questions about this please let me know.

How we think about doing the most good as the EA community grows

In his opening and closing talks at EA Global Boston Will discussed how the recent growth of the EA community (both in terms of people and resources) is changing the way we as a community think of doing good. While a lot of early thinking in EA was about individual actions, as we grow the question becomes much more how we, as a community, ought to act. There has been some talk about donor coordination in the past, but we think we now need to focus heavily on coordination between people choosing to have an impact with their research or career path. A larger community means that we want more people to become specialists, and provide their expertise to the community as a shared resource, even if there’s only a low chance that the area they investigate will end up being one of the most impactful, with many more people, we can now take a hits-based approach.

The growth of the EA community naturally brings with it increased opportunities as well as risks. The value of information and new ideas increases as we are able to influence more people, organizations, and institutions. But we are also faced with more reputational risks and open to more attacks. Concern about negatively impacting the movement can lead to less open discussion online. This becomes more of a problem as we grow beyond the point where we can easily meet in person to share ideas. It becomes harder to share core ideas and culture and there’s a greater risk of us fragmenting by cause areas or goals, despite all that we have in common.

Most excitingly, the growth of the community gives us greater resilience and momentum allowing us to take a more hits based approach and experiment with more speculative options knowing that only some need to pay off to have a net positive impact. This is something we really focused on encouraging at EA Global Boston.

EA Global Boston

EA Global Boston focused on exploring ideas at the frontiers of EA, going beyond the traditional cause areas and getting people thinking about taking risks with careers in high leverage areas like politics, science, and technology.

The most common goals for attendees seemed to be finding out more about research developments, networking and meeting other EAs. 84% of attendees indicated that they met their goals.

We will publish a more detailed review of EA Global Boston on the EA Forum. We’re also looking into whether we should encourage new members of the community to first attend local groups, EAGx events and read online content so that we can make EA Global content more advanced (see more on our priorities for Q3 below). If you have any thoughts on this or feedback on EA Global Boston, I’d love to hear from you. Anyone can suggest speakers and topics via this form.

Applications are also open for our events in San Francisco and London. Please let me know if you think there is anyone, in particular, we should encourage to attend.

First Draft Q3 Objectives

Having the team all together in one place at the retreat made it a good opportunity to review strategy. We went into the retreat still broadly expecting to pursue building the infrastructure to improve the output of good ideas from the EA community as mentioned in my previous updates. However, we updated our thinking during the course of the retreat.

We looked at some of the existing challenges for the EA community, the comparative advantages of the team at CEA and discussed with 80K the bottlenecks they had in their coaching.

It seems as though there are particular challenges for the EA community in onboarding new people. During YC, we focused on top-of-funnel growth - getting new people to read Doing Good Better, begin donating effectively or take the GWWC pledge. We are now bottlenecked on getting people who’ve got the basic ideas behind EA and helping them figure out how to get more heavily involved in the community so that they can have a higher impact with their time and/or money. This seems to both cause and be exacerbated by there being little segmentation between people who are new to EA and longer term members of the community. In-depth discussion is often stifled by the presence of newer EAs. For example, at EA Global events, speakers often find it difficult to craft talks that will be engaging and useful to a mixed audience of relative newcomers and much more experienced EAs. Equally, there is a big leap for these newer people, to get from early engagement to contributing to discussion and other important work in the community.

In Q3 we plan to focus on bridging this gap.

We plan to focus on converting particularly promising members of the community to becoming more engaged either through direct, individual support or by building long-term infrastructure. Our hypothesis is by focusing on this we will make progress on the

segmentation and onboarding problems in the process.

More concretely we currently expect this to involve activities like:

  • A stronger filter on applications to EA Global events for those with the potential to go into direct work in EA or areas like policy, entrepreneurship and other high potential areas
  • More mentorship for local groups and a particular focus on supporting promising group leaders
  • EA Grants
  • Building an EA Guide that details the core assumptions behind EA to better enable the community to apply an EA mindset to a wider range of areas. This will involve reaching out to newer EAs to get a better understanding of common misconceptions, and writing content designed to explain these ideas.
  • More specialized events or workshops in areas like policy or research to support promising members of the community
  • Encouraging people following an EtG strategy to reevaluate their giving and career plans, now that there is more money in the EA space, and a greater premium on top talent

These are our initial thoughts on our Q3 goals based on our strategic review at our team retreat. If you’d like to discuss our thinking further or have any suggestions please feel free to email me.

All the best,