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 have more impact than they could individually.
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.
Many of our readers have made crucial connections within the effective altruism community. Personally, we’ve met some of the most intelligent, impressive and altruistic people in our lives through it.
How to get involved
The easiest thing to do right now is to join the effective altruism newsletter. You’ll be emailed an introduction to the key ideas and a monthly update on new research. You’ll also be notified of the key conferences each year.
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What follows are some more ways to learn more and get involved.
Learn more about effective altruism
If you want to first learn more about the ideas behind the community, you have a choice of introductions:
You can also read Doing Good Better, which is by our co-founder and Oxford philosopher, Will MacAskill. Steven Levitt, the author of Freakonomics, said the book “should be required reading for anyone interested in making the world better”. The book is more focused on measurable global health interventions than we are today, but discusses the same principles. He also has a more recent TED talk.
How to meet people interested in effective altruism
Once you’re more up-to-speed, try to meet people in person or virtually, and then ask those people for more introductions. Here are some tips on how.
How to meet people in-person
We think the best way to do this is to attend an Effective Altruism Global conference, which is the biggest gathering of people interested in effective altruism each year, and usually takes place in London and San Francisco.
EA Global is oriented towards people who are already familiar with the ideas, and are able to travel to those cities. If that’s not you, you can also:
If you’re a university student, you might have an especially good way of meeting people in a similar position to you: via your university’s student group. See if your school has an active group via its directory or see if they’re listed here.
Meet people online
If you’d prefer to start by meeting people virtually, we’d recommend checking out the Effective Altruism Virtual Programmes, where you’ll be grouped with a handful of other people to discuss the ideas. New programmes start each month.
Some other options:
- Join the 80,000 Hours LinkedIn group, and search for people who work in the areas you’d like to enter, and message them.
- Start using the Effective Altruism Forum to discuss the ideas. Making useful posts and comments can help you make connections as well as learn, and the Forum also has a community page where you can find events and groups both in-person and online.
- There are many online Effective Altruism groups themed around specific problem areas, career paths and cities. You can join ones in your areas of interest and introduce yourself.
Some more tips on meeting people
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).
We have more advice on how to build connections in our article on personal development. One idea is to look for “five-minute favours” — quick ways you can help someone else in the community, like 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.
See more tips on how to get involved.
There are many other great communities that can help you have more impact, or be more successful. What matters is that you find your people – collaborators you can learn from and work with.
We have some more discussion about communities and career planning, including a list of some other communities our readers have found helpful, in our full article on career planning.