.impact updates (1 of 3): New leadership, organizational overview and changes, LEAN
Hi all! I’m Georgie—I recently took over as Executive Director of .impact, so I wanted to introduce myself and provide some updates on where we’re headed as an organisation. I’d be more than happy to talk to anyone who would like to chat about .impact operations, or if you’d just like to have a general chat! You can schedule a time to talk here.
Organizational overview and changes
Thus far, .impact has had numerous teams with several moving parts. With the help of some remarkable volunteers, we have been responsible for several notable projects, including:
The EA Newsletter (which has reached over 10,000 subscribers in less than a year, with the help of volunteers including Tom Ash, Pascal Zimmer, Sören Mindermann, and Michał Trzęsimiech among others)
EA Australia’s website and donation routing system
The Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN)
The first Local Group Survey
Supporting Students for High-Impact Charity (SHIC)
The Hub and the Forum are monitored by Harysh Ilanghovan (.impact’s Director of Technical Operations) and some of our volunteers. The monthly EA Newsletter is composed by the volunteers I mentioned, among others. We will continue to produce the annual EA Survey, as it is not only extremely valuable for the movement, but also significantly informs and enables our internal evaluations and outreach strategies. We have decided to scale back our time on the EA Wiki, so as not to spread ourselves too thin.
The majority of our time will be spent on LEAN, with some new projects in the pipeline (more to follow on this in subsequent posts).
The Local Effective Altruism Network (LEAN)
.impact is responsible for launching and developing LEAN, the Local Effective Altruism Network. LEAN has a database of around 300 groups: 155 of these were seeded by us, and 57 either contacted us directly or responded to a page on the Hub where we offered to help set up groups. These groups are sometimes made up of hundreds of members, while others are just starting and only have one organizer operating as a point of contact.
We offer a number of resources to support these groups, the details of which can be found on the LEAN website. Our most recent LEAN Newsletter also includes some examples of our achievements and work. You can find specific details about the resources and support we offer on the site, so rather than repeating that content, I will use this opportunity to explain our strategy moving forwards.
Beginning with the LEAN website, we intend to build our public-facing presence as the ‘go-to’ for high-touch community building and local group support.
We have already responded to many of the requests logged in the Local Group Survey, including creating websites, fronting web hosting costs, setting up paid meetup accounts, providing Mailchimp access, and providing tips on fundraising and ideas for events. We will continue to provide these resources to all groups. However, there are particular subsets of local groups that we’d like to focus on.
There were two very evident conclusions we were able to draw from the Local Groups Survey, which seem to be true even when accounting for the sampling issues and biases:
Most of the impact comes from the largest groups (you can pick your jaw up off the floor now)
Local Groups risk death or dormancy due to loneliness (is someone chopping onions around here?)
Therefore, the subsets that we’d like to focus on are: “medium-sized”* city groups and groups with only one organizer.
To address the first observation, we will be working closely with a few medium-sized city groups in order to develop them into “large groups”**. City groups arguably have a more difficult task ahead of them than university groups, who have an existing infrastructure that enables their activity. This assistance, therefore, is (ever so slightly) less tractable but more likely to be counterfactual.
To avoid dormancy, as in the second observation, we will be developing high-touch relationships with groups that have only one or two organizers. In the survey, most reasons for group dormancy included lack of motivation stemming from the inability to find a co-organiser or others with a high enough level of enthusiasm for organising meetups or events. The difficulty in finding co-organizers made the prospect of starting a group more intimidating, and the sense that no one in the area knew about EA led to apathy and, thus, inaction. We will focus on either locating a co-organizer for these groups, or acting as a remote co-organizer. This means increasing our contact time with them (via video calls and emails), and ensuring that this communication is substantive and ongoing.
LEAN have a number of former, or experienced, local group leaders who have kindly volunteered their time to Skype those who are just starting out; many people who have spent a year or more growing a local group have a wealth of knowledge to impart to those who are either completely new to the process, or would like to strategize to scale up, or have more specific issues to address. This is a great form of community support. If you would like to help with this project, or would like to Skype one of our experienced local group leaders, please do reach out to us.
On a related note: in the EA Survey, only 19% of respondents found the EA community ‘very welcoming’ (45%: welcoming, 27%: neither welcoming nor unwelcoming, 5%: unwelcoming, 4%: very unwelcoming), so perhaps we can tangentially address this (as well as some other community issues) via our support.
In general, increased and ongoing communication will be an approach that we will take with all groups: less spam, more personal conversations. We want to provide the resources and support, but more importantly, we want it to be fun—because who doesn’t love good, clean, well-organized fun?
We will still be providing all groups with numerous resources and reaching out to everyone with new, exciting initiatives. And if you like new, exciting initiatives, you should probably keep your eyes peeled for the second and third installments of .impact’s updates, which will be up on the Forum soon!
If you have any feedback, or have an interest in opportunities to donate or work with us, please do get in touch.
For Georgie and .impact operations: email@example.com
LEAN, especially if you’d like to try your hand at building a local group: firstname.lastname@example.org
* “medium-sized” broadly refers to groups with 4-10 committed organizers, who have events that could attract over 80 participants.
** “large groups” broadly refers to those with 10+ committed organizers, who have events that regularly attract over 80 participants, are responsible for a number of GWWC pledges and have a somewhat established presence in the local community.