Joining a community can be one of the best ways to increase your impact. First, it can enable you to make hundreds of connections in one go. Second, a group of people working together can achieve more than they could individually through coordination.
This is why, back in 2012, we helped to found the “effective altruism community”. It’s a group of people devoted to using evidence and reason to figure out the most effective ways to help others, whether through donations, political advocacy, or their careers.
It’s not for everyone, but many of our readers have found the connections they made extremely helpful. Personally, we’ve met some of the most intelligent, impressive and altruistic people in our lives through the effective altruism community.
How to get involved
The easiest thing to do right now is to join the effective altruism newsletter. You’ll be sent a couple of emails that introduce the key ideas; a monthly update on new research; and be notified of the key conferences each year.
You can also read Doing Good Better, a book by our co-founder Will MacAskill (though it’s focused more on measurable global health interventions than we would focus today), or his TED talk. Steven Levitt, the author of Freakonomics, said the book “should be required reading for anyone interested in making the world better”.
Once you’ve met a few people in the community, ask for more introductions.
Alternatively, you can attend a local effective altruism group – the EA Hub website maintains a comprehensive list – or you can join our LinkedIn group and ask for introductions there and find others who are interested in the ideas.
When meeting people, start by aiming to meet people in a similar situation to yourself, since there will often be opportunities to help each other. Then, try to speak to people who are one or two steps ahead of you in your career (e.g. if you want to start an organisation, meet people who started one last year).
When you’re getting involved, look for “five-minute favours” — quick ways you can help someone else in the community. There are probably some small things you can do that will be a great help to someone else in the community, such as making an introduction or telling them about a book. This will both have an impact and let you meet even more people.
Another way to get more involved is to visit, or even move to, one of the hubs of the community. These are, roughly in descending order of size: the London / Oxford / Cambridge area, the San Francisco Bay Area, Berlin, Boston, New York, Vancouver, Melbourne, and Sydney. Read more about why and how to visit.