In a nutshell: The effective altruism community seeks to support people trying to have a large positive impact. Organising an effective altruism local or student group can be unusually high impact, because it’s often possible to get several other people involved in working on pressing problems or supporting effective charities.
Sometimes recommended — personal fit dependent
This career will be some people's highest-impact option if their personal fit is especially good.
Why might organising an effective altruism local group be high impact?
As a part of the effective altruism community, we may have some bias here, but we think helping to build this community and make it more effective might be one way to do a lot of good.
Organisers of student and local effective altruism groups run events to help people learn about, discuss, and make connections within effective altruism. Being an organiser can be unusually high impact, because it’s often possible to get several other people involved in working on pressing problems or supporting effective charities, therefore creating a ‘multiplier’ on your lifetime impact. The ideas of effective altruism are still not widely known, so there’s a lot of room for additional outreach and community building.
This is especially true for students, who have what’s often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a lot of time with other talented people who are interested in making the world a better place, and who still have the flexibility to change paths. We know several people who probably had more impact running a student group than they did in the first few years of their jobs after graduation. Read more about the potential impact of local groups.
This option can also be pursued part-time, and it’s probably one of the highest-impact volunteer opportunities we know of.
There are also now over 20 paid full-time group organisers — covering both university and city groups — and the number of paid positions is likely to grow severalfold over the coming years.
If you’re still a student, you can volunteer with your local group, and then potentially work as a group organiser full-time for 1–3 years after you graduate — which can also be a good stepping stone into other community-building roles.
If you’re not a student, look for a local city group, which will have members spanning a wider range of ages.
Running a group can also be valuable career capital — you can practise useful skills like managing volunteers, organising events, and marketing, while also gaining a charitable activity for your resume and making connections within (and learning a lot about) effective altruism. This is especially true if you’re able to find other great people to work with, and are motivated to make your group successful.
That said, one drawback of pursuing this option full-time (rather than volunteering) is that you may gain less career capital than you would in other options available to you — in particular if you want to work outside of effective altruism community building later, because the position is harder to use as a credential. However, under the right circumstances it can still be a strong option for career capital (e.g. due to building connections), especially if you want to work within effective altruism later.
Most organisers we know — especially the students — are not planning to pursue this option as a longer-term career, making this option different from other career pathways. But this may begin to change — it’s now possible to get funding to run a group professionally in the long term (and from there you could take more senior movement-building jobs).
How to enter
If you’re interested in pursuing this option, see if your university or city has a group you can join using this directory. If you’d like to start a new group as a volunteer, see this guide, and this great writeup of how the Stanford group grew to be one of the biggest within two years.
If you’d like to apply for funding to run a group, consider applying for a grant from the Centre for Effective Altruism or the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund.
Example of someone pursuing this path
Want one-on-one advice on pursuing this path?
If you think this path might be a great option for you, but you need help deciding or thinking about what to do next, our team might be able to help.
We can help you compare options, make connections, and possibly even help you find jobs or funding opportunities.