Running Effective Altruism Groups: A Literature Review

Link post

This post is a link to a liter­a­ture re­view con­ducted by my­self (James Fodor) and Miles Tid­marsh to as­sist or­ganisers of EA com­mu­nity groups in mak­ing de­ci­sions about how to bet­ter run their groups. Below is the in­tro­duc­tion to the liter­a­ture re­view. The full text pdf is available here.

Introduction

The pur­pose of this liter­a­ture re­view is to sum­marise the ex­tant liter­a­ture con­cern­ing the ev­i­dence for effec­tive meth­ods and strate­gies for run­ning lo­cal EA com­mu­nity and uni­ver­sity groups. The fo­cus is not pri­mar­ily on run­ning larger or­gani­sa­tions that at­tempt to pro­duce origi­nal EA re­search or or­ganise larger scale ac­tivism, though some of the les­sons con­tained herein may also be rele­vant to such or­gani­sa­tions. The re­view fo­cuses pri­mar­ily, but not ex­clu­sively, upon ev­i­dence gen­er­ated within the EA com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive ev­i­dence pro­duced by var­i­ous lo­cal groups and or­ganisers from around the world. The pri­mary ob­jec­tive is to provide prac­ti­cal ad­vice that will as­sist lo­cal group lead­ers in mak­ing de­ci­sions per­ti­nent to the run­ning of their group. The re­view cov­ers sev­eral ma­jor ar­eas of group ac­tivity: mar­ket­ing, com­mu­nity, and man­age­ment. It is in­tended that this re­view will be up­dated as more ev­i­dence be­comes available.

Be­cause much of the ev­i­dence is am­bigu­ous, we have de­cided to in­clude as much of the raw data as pos­si­ble rather than pre­sent only our in­ter­pre­ta­tion of it. Thus each sub­sec­tion be­gins with our brief recom­men­da­tion based on the ev­i­dence we have re­viewed, fol­lowed by ex­cerpts from the pa­pers that in­formed this recom­men­da­tion. Read­ers are en­couraged to crit­i­cally eval­u­ate our con­clu­sions on the ba­sis of the ev­i­dence pre­sented, given that they may in­ter­pret the ev­i­dence some­what differ­ently to us. Fi­nally, we ob­served in the pro­cess of com­piling this re­view that the ev­i­dence base for effec­tively run­ning EA groups is not as ex­ten­sive or as ro­bust as we would de­sire it to be. We hope that pro­duc­ing this re­view may prompt oth­ers to pub­lish more re­sults or in­ves­ti­ga­tions into effec­tive prac­tises that could be of value to the wider EA com­mu­nity.