Community Building
🪴

Community Building

This collection is for advocates interested in community building. You will find a list of articles and other resources, key takeaways for many of these articles, and an extra guide to building local impactful animal advocacy communities (note that many learnings to build a local AA group might be valuable to other forms of community building as well).

📚 Community Building (CB) Resource Collection

📚 CB Resource Collection

Embedded LinkReading timeAuthorTypeTopic*TopicCommentsSummary?
<5 Min
Fabian Pfortmüller
Article
Understanding "Community"
Events

What distinguishes a series of gatherings from a proper communty.

Yes, here!

<5 Min
Fabian Pfortmüller
Article
Highlighting the importance of X
Collaboration

Why it’s important to get interpersonal relationships right before you can properly collaborate and how to do so.

<5 Min
Michel Bachmann
Article
General Principles
Strategy

Principles for growing a community, especially relevant for those that operates globally and follows an altruistic goal.

<5 Min
Fabian Pfortmüller
Article
Understanding "Community"
Philosophy

A different view on what communities are, focusing on facilitating connections without forcing them.

<5 Min
CEA
Article
Understanding "Community"
StrategyCollection

Four different models to understand community building that are or have been used by CEA.

See key takeaways in the context of Local IAA Community Building here!

<5 Min
David Nash
EA Forum Post
Understanding "Community"Meta
StrategyPhilosophyMeta

The difference between a community in the classic sense and a network, with a focus on hoe we overvalue engagement and an impact case on the latter.

<5 Min
5-10 Min
Fabian Pfortmüller
Article
Starting a community
Events

How to turn a series of events into a community.

Yes, here!

5-10 Min
David Spinks
Article
How to do X
Strategy

Facilitating seemingly lucky and special moments by providing a fitting frame.

5-10 Min
Per Ivar Friborg
EA Forum Post
How to do X
Strategy

Ideas to get people more autonomous and self-driven.

See key takeaways in the context of Local IAA Community Building here.

5-10 Min
PISEDaniel Coyle
EA Forum PostNotes on books
Highlighting the importance of X
Strategy

Lessons from the book “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Succeesful Groups”.The post also links to a summary of the book, a worksheet as well as slides of a presentation about the book.

See key takeaways in the context of IAA Community Building here.

5-10 Min
David Nash
EA Forum Post
Starting a community
StrategyMeta

The case for thinking beyond “local EA groups”.

See key takeaways in the context of IAA Community building here.

5-10 Min
Naomi Nederlof
EA Forum Post
How to do X
Strategy

Tips to manage volunteers, particularly to retain volunteers.

See key takeaways in the context of IAA Community Building here.

5-10 Min
Severin Seehrich
EA Forum Post
How to do X
Strategy

Three tips to make community members more agentic.

5-10 Min
Fabian PfortmüllerTogether Institute
Article
Understanding "Community"
Philosophy

Defining “Community”.

5-10 Min
Michel Bachmann
Article
Understanding "Community"
PhilosophyStrategy

The case for prioritzing “who” your community is over “why” your community exists.

5-10 Min
Erica MossJocelyn Hsu
Article
How to do X

What to do when you're challenged with moving an established community to a new platform.

10-15 Min
Nick deWilde
Article
General Principles
Strategy

Slightly more elaborate framework on what makes communities succesful.

Yes, here!

10-15 Min
Aaron Bergman
EA Forum Post
Meta
StrategyMeta

The impact case for prioritizing community building.

10-15 Min
Julia Wise
EA Forum Post
Highlighting the importance of XHow to do X
Strategy

This is a resource for organizers of EA groups who want to welcome great people to their groups and events, including people from groups that we're currently largely missing out on.

15-20 Min
Priya ParkerDavid Nash
Notes on booksEA Forum Post
How to do X
Events

Summary of the book “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters

15-20 Min
Priya ParkerTristan Williams
Notes on booksEA Forum Post
How to do X
Events

Summary of the book “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters

20-25 Min
Gidon Kadosh
Talk
Strategy

The distinction and value of user-centered (i.e., service-oriented) and volunteer-centered (i.e., co-creation oriented) communities.

20-25 Min
Theo Hawking
EA Forum Post
Highlighting the importance of XGeneral Principles
MetaStrategy

Ways in which EA Community building might shy away the people EA needs most right now. Somewhat EA-specific, but with valuable learnings and things to keep in mind as you scale up.

20-25 Min
Andre Claremont
Guide
Collection

From community platform to managing events to analytics and more, here's every tool to help Community Managers run their community seamlessly

25-30 Min
David Coman-Hidy
Talk
Strategy
>30 Min
Peter WildefordAlison GreenJerry Hauser
EA Forum PostNotes on books
Strategy

Summary of the book “Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results”

>30 Min
Christopher Einolf
Article
How to do X
Strategy

Some tips on managing volunteers.

Yes, AI-generated Summary here!

>30 Min
Fabian Pfortmüller
Collection

Collection of resources by Fabian Pfortmüller, co-founder of the Together Institute and co-author of the Community Canvas.

>30 Min
Richard D. Bartlett
Collection
Philosophy

Collection of resources and practices relevant to community building. “The first objective of microsolidarity is to create structures for belonging. […] The second objective is to support people into meaningful work.”

>30 Min
Converge Network
Collection
Strategy

Collection of tools to build impactful networks, ranging from templates to group exercises, texts, etc.

>30 Min
Fabian PfortmüllerClose Knit
WebsiteFramework
StrategyCollection

“A framework to help you build meaningful communities.”

>30 Min
CMX
WebsiteGuide
How to do X
StrategyCollectionEvents

Resources to run (community-led) events.

>30 Min
Commsor
WebsiteCollection
StrategyCollection

Blog with articles often focused on (and tagged with) community.

>30 Min
CEA
WebsiteCollection
How to do XStarting a communityHighlighting the importance of XGeneral Principles
CollectionStrategyEvents

This is a collection of resources for EA group organisers curated by the Groups Team at the Centre for Effective Altruism.

WTF
Guide
Events

Mainly in-person indoor and outdoor gamesbut also some online games

Beyond Carnism
Website
Highlighting the importance of XHow to do X
Strategy

Go-to resource for preventing, managing, and ending infighting.

Spencer Greenberg
Collection
How to do X
Events

List of event formats other than talks, group discussions, panels, or mixers

Milly Tamati
Framework
Starting a community

🔑 Summaries and Key Takeaways

✨Community Building 101 - everything you need to know!

Understand and provide value to your community members. Your community might seek all sorts of values, from connections to advice, to opportunities. Understanding the needs of you community and meeting them is the reason they join your community in the first place.

Actively involve your community members as co-creators. This not only helps with your workload, but also helps to cultivate autonomy, agentyness and deepen engagement.

Ensure psychological safety. This is not only important for its own sake, but is also necessary for exceptional organizational cutlure.

Consistency is key. Make sure that you have regular events for your members to connect and associate themselves with the community.

Keep an eye on community health and well-being. It is important to foster an inclusive and welcoming environment and take mental health seriously.

📃 Summaries

100 word summary: This paper is a comprehensive review of literature on volunteer management practices, providing evidence-based insights into what works and what doesn't. It covers a range of topics, including recruitment, retention, motivation, recognition, and evaluation of volunteers. The file also discusses the limitations of the research, such as self-reported surveys and subjective outcome measures, and provides recommendations for future studies. The most important takeaways include the 11 best practices for volunteer management, the need for representative samples in research, and the importance of communication, recognition, and evaluation in volunteer management.

Most important takeaways:

  • The 11 best practices for volunteer management, including keeping records of volunteer hours and activities, supervising and communicating frequently with volunteers, and recognizing volunteers' contributions.
  • The need for representative samples in research to ensure generalizability of findings.
  • The importance of communication, recognition, and evaluation in volunteer management, as well as the need for ongoing training and support for volunteers.
  • The limitations of the research, such as self-reported surveys and subjective outcome measures, and the need for more rigorous studies in the future.

11 Best practices:

  1. Liability insurance: An organization provides liability insurance to its volunteers to protect them from any harm or injury that may occur while volunteering.
  2. Clearly defined roles: An organization clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of its volunteers, such as specifying the tasks they will perform, the time commitment required, and the skills and experience needed.
  3. Job design: An organization designs volunteer jobs that are meaningful, challenging, and aligned with the volunteers' skills and interests, such as creating opportunities for leadership, creativity, and social interaction.
  4. Recruitment strategies: An organization uses effective recruitment strategies to attract a diverse pool of volunteers, such as using social media, word-of-mouth, and community outreach to reach potential volunteers.
  5. Screening and matching: An organization screens and matches volunteers to ensure a good fit between the volunteers' skills, interests, and motivations and the organization's needs, such as conducting interviews, background checks, and reference checks.
  6. Orientation and training: An organization provides orientation and training to its volunteers to help them understand the organization's mission, values, and policies, as well as to develop the skills and knowledge needed to perform their roles effectively.
  7. Supervision and communication: An organization provides ongoing supervision and communication to its volunteers to ensure that they receive feedback, support, and guidance, as well as to address any issues or concerns that may arise.
  8. Recognition: An organization recognizes and rewards its volunteers for their contributions, such as through public recognition, awards, and certificates, as well as through informal gestures of appreciation, such as thank-you notes and small gifts.
  9. Satisfying motivations: An organization understands and satisfies the motivations of its volunteers, such as by providing opportunities for personal growth, social connection, and community impact, as well as by addressing any barriers or challenges that may prevent volunteers from fully engaging.
  10. Reflection: An organization encourages its volunteers to reflect on their experiences and learning, such as by providing opportunities for feedback, evaluation, and self-assessment, as well as by facilitating peer learning and support.
  11. Peer support: An organization provides peer support to its volunteers, such as by creating opportunities for volunteers to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other, as well as by providing mentorship and leadership development opportunities.

Community Test: how likely am I to help someone that contacts me a) after we have attended the same event b) because we are part of the same community? This can help distinguishing communties from “just” a series of gatherings. Here are nine ways to transform your “series” to a community:

  1. Boundaries and Curation: Creating boundaries in a community, through careful curation rather than just financial barriers, fosters trust and a sense of belonging, enhancing the community experience and interaction.
  2. Rhythm, Retention, and Size: Successful communities require regular events (rhythm), participant retention, and an optimal size to deepen relationships over time and build a strong sense of shared identity.
  3. Conscious Onboarding and Language: Distinguishing between attending events and joining communities is crucial, emphasizing the need for explicit onboarding processes that introduce new members to group values, rules, and norms to avoid inactive participants.
  4. Where Do We Connect In-Between Events?: Events should offer dedicated platforms for ongoing conversations between participants, with a focus on community-centric tools rather than event-centric ones, and consistent promotion to ensure active engagement.
  5. Communities Need Active Care: Successful communities require dedicated community managers who actively nurture the group in-between events, ensuring ongoing opportunities for connection and collective well-being.
  6. Consumer vs Co-Creation Behavior: Events can either treat attendees as consumers or co-creators, with the latter fostering a shared identity and sense of community. Therefore, consider regularly facilitating interactive formats.
  7. If This is a Community, What Does It Stand For?: Many aspiring communities lack explicit strategic direction. The Minimum Viable Community framework helps articulate and communicate the values and purpose of a community.
  8. The Power of Storytelling In-Between Events: Using storytelling, events like Creative Mornings keep conversations alive between events, enhancing rhythm and consistency, and fostering a sense of connection among participants.
  9. Community of Organizers: Building a community among organizers of recurring events, especially those in different cities, provides valuable support and learning opportunities, contributing to the success and sustainability of the overall community.

[The original article is very well written and concise, the following is mostly copied and pasted]

Some key differences between gathering and community

  • We join a community, but we attend a gathering. A community is usually a deeper and often more demanding and complicated commitment. We commit to engage not just once, but over an extended period of time. We commit to values and principles. We commit to a bigger vision.
  • A gathering has a beginning and an end, and often we count in days. A community experience ideally does also have beginnings and ends, but we count in months, years or decades.
  • At gatherings, we are usually consumers. Someone else organizes the gathering for us. In a healthy community the lines between organizers and attendee are much more fluid: I’m a member, not just an attendee. The organizer, ideally, is a fellow member. I’m invited to co-create. When I look around me at a community gathering, I have a sense of “us”.
  • Gatherings don’t have to reflect my identity. I can attend a gathering whose values don’t reflect mine. Being part of a community where my and the community’s values don’t match is hard to sustain.

From gathering to community

  • Communicate the intention of a community clearly already before the gathering. It’s hard to shift gathering attendees with their consumer mindsets into co-creating members, unless the expectation was set from the very outset that this gathering was about co-creating and kickstarting a community. Then a gathering can be a powerful boost of energy to get the community started.
  • Have a plan for what will happen in the community for the first 6–12 months after the initial gathering: What will the rhythm be? What will be key formats and practices? How do you engage members as co-creators and what roles can you give them? Be super clear at the gathering about what will happen next. Send a follow-up email inviting to the next activity within 1 week after the gathering.
  • Dedicate part of the gathering (and not just the last 10 minutes) to co-create parts of the community. Use the gathering as platform to identify who among the members is excited to contribute actively and bring them into conversation and relationship with each other. The sessions could be about co-defining purpose, values, formats, roles etc.
  • Do not make every gathering attendee an automatic community member. Design a moment of choice, where people can decide after the gathering, if they want to be part of this community or not. Their choice of attending the gathering should not be confused to mean that they want to commit to the community.

Should this gathering be a community? Maybe for some.

Whether your gathering should be a community depends on some key questions: Do I want these people, these conversations, this topic to be an ongoing part of my life? Will I prioritize this over other communities I’m part of? Do I care about this group enough to take an active role in shaping it?

For many attendees the answer will be no. But for some, the answer might be yes. A gathering of 500 could be the starting point for a thriving community of 20. And both of these can co-exist going forward: a small inner-circle that is committed to be in deep, ongoing relationship, and a wide outer circle that convenes once a year.

Why do people join impactful communities? Individuals typically “hire” communities to accomplish transitions that require human connection. Impactful communities have environments that make it easy for members to connect and create value for one another. Sometimes the connections themselves create most of the value. In other situations, the value comes from what gets exchanged (expertise, status, motivation, etc.) after members connect. Either way, it takes a thoughtfully designed community for these interactions to take place.

Member quality determines community success.

Poorly-chosen members can decrease the quality (and quality) of member interactions, lower member retention, diminish the community’s reputation and much more. Well-chosen members, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect on each of these variables:

image

Be careful over-investing in community capabilities

While members can create a good deal of value, they won’t invest time and energy into the community if they feel like they are doing all the work. That’s why as your member base grows, it’s worth investing in capabilities to help your members discover and interact with one another like:

  • Event hosting to throw retreats, webinars, happy hours, etc.
  • Content production to publicize the accomplishments of members
  • Member directories to enable member discovery
  • Knowledge repositories to artifact and disseminate shared expertise
  • Forum hosting to create spaces for questions to get asked and answered
  • Chat moderation to promote quality interactions

While of all of these are important, you have to make sure that your capabilities fit with your community members and are not too costly.

Pro tip: Ask your members to contribute

Don’t be afraid to ask members to act as forum moderators or event hosts. People are hungry to contribute in non-monetary ways. You may even want to create some kind of membership requirement around contribution so that members feel more invested in the success of the group.

Design your community to spark quality interactions

To motivate initial interactions, you’ll want to design your community to incentivize members with their first hit of value soon after they sign up. This value should arrive in a form that fulfills whatever need caused them to join in the first place. You want your community members to understand, early on, that the key to unlocking more value for themselves is to create it for others. As community architects, you have several levers at your disposal to incentivize this:

  • Norms – the informal standards of behavior that the group agrees to and expects
  • Policies – formal rules that govern the operations of the community
  • Rituals – ongoing activities that define the type of interactions that take place among the group
  • Rewards – Incentives put in place to motivate positive behaviors

The two levels of group cohesion

As members create value for one another, the group will start to bond at two different levels. The first involves the relationships between individual members, and the second is the affinity members feel with the group itself. Both of these are critical if you want your group to have a transformational impact.

Level One: Individual Relationships

In transparent status hierarchies, building and sustaining relationships can be challenging as individuals tend to gravitate toward those with similar or higher status, leading to unequal attention distribution. To address this, creating communities that minimize emphasis on external status markers and instead foster internal status based on shared activities and goals can facilitate more meaningful connections among members.

Level Two: Group Affinity

Fostering meaningful connections within a group involves cultivating a unique culture through shared experiences, such as initiation rituals in fraternities or sororities, to create a sense of unity among members. Thoughtful onboarding processes and setting minimum requirements aligned with members' goals, like publishing for a writing community or sharing workout evidence for an exercise group, can further enhance cohesion and self-moderation within the community.

Recognizing and retaining key members

To retain members for the long term, they need to unlock new forms of value. One particularly useful incentive is community-based status. Status tends to be sticky, and your members will do what they can to hold on to it.

Buzzing Communities author, Richard Millington suggests that as groups grow in size, it makes sense to create insider groups that are explicitly responsible for:

  • Soliciting and communicating feedback from members
  • Volunteering to manage specific areas of the community
  • Weighing in on important changes to the community

These groups tend to be effective because they tie status and contribution together.

Growing your ranks

To build a successful community, creating a transformative experience for members is crucial, as it attracts attention and interest from others. The choice then arises between expanding the community for more resources or maintaining exclusivity to enhance its perceived value. Successful communities often find a balance between these strategies. If word of mouth isn't enough, exploring alternative growth channels is an option, but targeting efforts should be intentional. Recognizing that people desire what is exclusive, it's advised to avoid excessive advertising and focus on creating a meaningful impact within the community to generate genuine demand.

🤖ChatGPT generated ideas

Top ten unusual tips to improve community building

Unconventional or unusual approaches can sometimes make a significant impact on community building. Here are ten unique tips to enhance your community-building efforts:

  1. Random Acts of Kindness Initiatives:
    • Encourage members to perform random acts of kindness within the community. This could include sending positive messages, virtual gifts, or organizing surprise events.
  2. Virtual Time Capsules:
    • Create a digital "time capsule" where members contribute content representing the current state of the community. Revisit it periodically to reflect on the community's evolution.
  3. Interactive Storytelling Challenges:
    • Initiate a collaborative storytelling project where each member contributes a sentence or paragraph, building a unique and evolving community narrative.
  4. Mystery Collaborations:
    • Organize mystery collaborations where members are randomly paired to work on a project or task together. This fosters unexpected connections and creativity.
  5. Reverse Q&A Sessions:
    • Instead of community leaders answering questions, have community members take turns answering questions posed by others. This promotes knowledge sharing and highlights diverse expertise within the community.
  6. Virtual Escape Room Events:
    • Host virtual escape room challenges or puzzle-solving activities to encourage teamwork and problem-solving while providing a fun and interactive experience.
  7. Secret Handshake or Greeting:
    • Introduce a virtual "secret handshake" or unique greeting that members can use to identify themselves as part of the community. This adds an element of exclusivity and shared identity.
  8. Host Virtual Fireside Chats:
    • Conduct virtual fireside chats where community leaders or members share personal stories, creating a more intimate and relatable atmosphere within the community.
  9. Community Time Capsule Events:
    • Organize events where members contribute items or messages to a physical time capsule that will be opened at a future in-person meetup or milestone.
  10. Virtual Serendipity Meetings:
    • Facilitate serendipitous connections by randomly pairing community members for short virtual coffee chats or discussions. This helps break down silos and encourages diverse interactions.

Remember, the key to successful community building is understanding your community's unique dynamics and adapting strategies to fit its specific needs. These unusual tips can serve as creative sparks to ignite engagement and strengthen the bonds within your community.

Top ten event ideas in community building

Creating engaging and memorable events is a fantastic way to strengthen a community. Here are ten event ideas for community building:

  1. Themed Virtual Parties:
    • Host virtual parties with creative themes relevant to your community. Encourage members to dress up, share themed content, and participate in activities related to the theme.
  2. Community Awards Ceremony:
    • Recognize and celebrate community members' achievements through a virtual awards ceremony. Categories could include "Most Helpful Member," "Innovator of the Year," etc.
  3. Virtual Talent Show:
    • Showcase the diverse talents within your community through a virtual talent show. Members can submit videos or perform live, sharing their skills with the community.
  4. Skill-sharing Workshops:
    • Organize virtual workshops where community members can teach each other new skills. This fosters a sense of expertise and encourages collaboration.
  5. Community AMA (Ask Me Anything):
    • Host a live Q&A session with community leaders, influencers, or experts. This allows members to ask questions, share insights, and connect with the people guiding the community.
  6. Interactive Webinars with Q&A Games:
    • Combine traditional webinars with interactive elements like Q&A games, polls, or quizzes. This keeps the audience engaged and promotes knowledge sharing.
  7. Virtual Escape Room Challenge:
    • Collaborate on solving virtual escape room challenges as a community. This fosters teamwork, problem-solving, and a sense of accomplishment when completing the tasks.
  8. Book Club or Movie Night:
    • Establish a community book club or movie night where members can discuss and share their thoughts on a chosen book or film. This encourages intellectual conversations and bonding.
  9. Community Hackathon:
    • Host a virtual hackathon or creative challenge where members work together on a specific project or problem-solving task. This is a great way to harness collective creativity.
  10. Speed Networking Events:
    • Facilitate virtual speed networking sessions where community members can connect one-on-one for short, focused conversations. This helps build personal connections within the community.

When planning events, consider the preferences and interests of your community members. Mixing up the types of events can also keep things fresh and cater to a diverse audience. Additionally, seek feedback after each event to continuously improve and tailor future activities to the community's evolving needs.

Top ten underrated tips for community builders

Here are ten underrated tips that community builders might find valuable:

  1. Emphasize Listening Over Broadcasting:
    • Instead of solely focusing on pushing content or announcements, actively listen to your community's needs, feedback, and discussions. Respond thoughtfully to show that you value their input.
  2. Encourage Micro-Interactions:
    • Celebrate small wins, acknowledge individual contributions, and foster micro-interactions. Sometimes, it's the little gestures that strengthen community bonds.
  3. Random Acts of Appreciation:
    • Surprise community members with unexpected acts of appreciation, such as personalized thank-you messages, virtual badges, or small tokens of gratitude.
  4. Cross-Pollinate Communities:
    • Collaborate with other communities or forums that share similar interests. Cross-pollinating allows for diverse perspectives and can introduce your community to new ideas.
  5. Facilitate Member-led Initiatives:
    • Empower community members to take the lead on projects, events, or initiatives. This not only lightens the workload but also promotes a sense of ownership and pride.
  6. Highlight Behind-the-Scenes Content:
    • Share behind-the-scenes glimpses of community management, decision-making processes, or personal stories from community leaders. This transparency fosters trust.
  7. Foster Mentorship Programs:
    • Establish mentorship programs within the community, pairing experienced members with newcomers. This helps in knowledge transfer and strengthens connections.
  8. Utilize Humor and Playfulness:
    • Inject humor into your community's communication. Memes, jokes, or playful interactions can make the community more enjoyable and relatable.
  9. Create a Space for Constructive Criticism:
    • Encourage open and constructive criticism. A community that can openly discuss challenges and improvements is more likely to adapt and thrive.
  10. Host Virtual Watercooler Sessions:
    • Create casual, non-work-related spaces for community members to connect. Virtual watercooler sessions allow for informal conversations, strengthening social ties.

Remember, every community is unique, so it's essential to adapt these tips to fit your community's culture and goals. Regularly assess the community's pulse, and be open to experimenting with new approaches to keep things fresh and engaging.

Top ten evidence-backed ideas for community building

Building a community based on evidence-backed strategies is crucial for long-term success. Here are ten evidence-backed ideas for community building:

  1. Establish Clear Guidelines and Rules:
    • Evidence: Research indicates that communities with clear guidelines and rules experience higher member satisfaction and lower rates of conflict.
    • Implementation: Clearly define community guidelines, codes of conduct, and moderation policies. Communicate and enforce these rules consistently.
  2. Active Community Management:
    • Evidence: Studies show that active community management positively correlates with increased engagement and a sense of belonging.
    • Implementation: Regularly monitor and participate in community discussions. Address issues promptly, and celebrate community achievements.
  3. Encourage Reciprocity:
    • Evidence: The principle of reciprocity is well-documented in psychology. People are more likely to contribute when they feel their efforts are acknowledged and reciprocated.
    • Implementation: Acknowledge and reward member contributions. Create a culture where giving is seen as valuable.
  4. Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Interaction:
    • Evidence: Community members often value interactions with peers as much as interactions with community leaders.
    • Implementation: Encourage discussions and collaborations among members. Create spaces for members to connect and share knowledge.
  5. Personalized Communication:
    • Evidence: Personalized communication leads to higher engagement rates. Tailoring messages to individual interests fosters a sense of connection.
    • Implementation: Use member data to personalize communications. Segment your audience based on interests and preferences.
  6. Build a Sense of Identity:
    • Evidence: Research suggests that a shared identity within a community fosters a sense of belonging and commitment.
    • Implementation: Cultivate a unique identity for your community. Create symbols, rituals, or traditions that members can identify with.
  7. Social Proof and Testimonials:
    • Evidence: Social proof, such as testimonials and success stories, influences new members to join and engage with a community.
    • Implementation: Showcase positive experiences within your community. Encourage members to share testimonials or success stories.
  8. Create a Supportive Environment:
    • Evidence: Communities that provide emotional support and a sense of belonging have higher member retention.
    • Implementation: Foster a supportive environment by actively encouraging positive interactions, empathy, and mutual understanding.
  9. Feedback Loops and Iteration:
    • Evidence: Continuous feedback and iterative improvements are key to community success. Regular assessment and adaptation are critical.
    • Implementation: Collect feedback from members regularly. Use this feedback to make informed changes and improvements.
  10. Metrics and Data-Driven Decisions:
    • Evidence: Successful communities often rely on data and metrics to understand member behavior and community health.
    • Implementation: Use analytics tools to track community engagement, user behavior, and key performance indicators. Make data-driven decisions to enhance community building strategies.

Remember, while evidence-backed strategies provide a solid foundation, it's essential to continually adapt and experiment to meet the evolving needs of your community. Regularly reassess the effectiveness of your community-building efforts and be open to refining your approach.

Top ten unique services community builders can offer to their community

Innovative services can set a community apart and provide unique value to its members. Here are ten distinctive services that community builders can offer:

  1. Skill Swap Platform:
    • Create a platform where community members can offer and exchange skills. This could range from professional services to hobbies, fostering a collaborative environment.
  2. Mental Health and Well-being Support:
    • Provide access to mental health resources, such as counseling sessions, mindfulness workshops, or peer support groups. This acknowledges the importance of well-being within the community.
  3. Exclusive Learning Opportunities:
    • Offer exclusive learning resources, workshops, or courses tailored to the community's interests. This could include expert-led sessions or collaborative learning experiences.
  4. Community Job Board:
    • Establish a job board within the community, connecting members with job opportunities or freelance gigs. This helps members leverage the network for professional growth.
  5. Micro-Grants for Projects:
    • Create a fund for community members to apply for micro-grants to support their projects, initiatives, or creative endeavors. This encourages innovation and community-driven initiatives.
  6. Customized Networking Events:
    • Organize networking events tailored to specific interests or industries within the community. This facilitates targeted connections and collaborations.
  7. Community Marketplace:
    • Develop an online marketplace where community members can buy, sell, or trade goods and services. This enhances the community's economic ecosystem.
  8. Personal and Professional Development Coaching:
    • Offer one-on-one coaching sessions for personal or professional development. This provides individualized support for community members looking to grow.
  9. Innovation Challenges:
    • Launch innovation challenges or hackathons within the community, encouraging members to collaborate on solving real-world problems or creating new solutions.
  10. Community Exchange Program:
    • Facilitate a community exchange program where members can visit or virtually connect with other community branches. This promotes cross-cultural understanding and strengthens ties.

When introducing new services, it's crucial to assess the needs and preferences of your community. Regularly gather feedback and adjust your offerings based on the evolving interests and requirements of your members. Additionally, clear communication about these services and their benefits will contribute to their success.

🌱 Building Local Animal Advocacy (AA) Communities

This section covers a variety of resources relevant to building a local Impactful (Effective) Animal Advocacy community, i.e., a community of animal advocates with a special focus on discussing impactfulness in animal advocacy. However, many learnings are applicable to a wide variety of community building.

🐣 Why build local animal advocacy (AA) communities?

Local animal advocacy communities might offer distinct advantages that are complementary to simply promoting the global community:

  • in-person events
  • lower entry barrier, because of a smaller/more accessible group
  • stronger ties within the community
  • more opportunities to get community members involved

As such, local AA communities might be thought of to pursue the main goals to (1) introduce and onboard local animal advocates to the more global AA community/impactful animal advocacy landscape; (2) introduce local advocates to impact/effectiveness-focused thinking, relevant considerations, thinking tools, etc.; and (3) strengthen the general (impactful) animal advocacy community.

💡 EA Resources: Key Takeaways and Personal Notes

This list covers a variety of existing community-building resources from the Effective Altruism community. Many of the findings seem to apply to local AA group building, with a few important adaptations. You will find Key Takeaways applied to the context of AA. Personal adaptations are communicated with [brackets]; major uncertainties with orange font.

🔑 Key Takeaways:

Three-Factor Model: The amount of good someone can do can be viewed as the product of their Resources x Dedication x Realization. Community and Capacity building can work by increasing any or all of these factors.

Resources: This factor includes the scale of resources (money, skills, etc.) individuals have to offer, such as wealth, earning potential, and the ability to do valuable direct work. Actionable examples include:

  • Creating/Linking community members to relevant upskilling opportunities (courses, fellowships, internships, etc.)
  • Creating/Linking community members to relevant resources (articles, talks, etc.)
  • Upskilling general skills and abilities (e.g., productivity, time management, mental health)
  • Linking community members to relevant people to support their work and strengthen cooperation
  • [(Meta): Creating a culture of self-development and desire to upskill/build capacities?]
  • [(Meta): Make upskilling/capacity-building opportunities more accessible/fun/desirable?]

Dedication: Dedication is defined as the proportion of resources that individuals are expected to devote to helping others. Actionable examples include:

  • Encouraging community members to donate, donate more, and/or donate more effectively to help animals
  • Encouraging community members to dedicate their careers, dedicate their career more, and/or dedicate their careers more effectively to helping animals
  • [(Meta): Create a culture/community in which sustainable, but substantial dedication is desirable.]

Realization: This factor evaluates how efficiently resources dedicated to helping are used. It includes considerations of how individuals think about doing good, their worldview, and the quality of their thinking and plans.

  • [Communicate high-quality charities to donate to/work/volunteer at]
  • [Link community members to relevant job opportunities]

Variability of Factors: The article highlights significant variability within the effective altruism community in terms of resources, dedication, and realization. Each factor is suggested to vary by at least an order of magnitude, contributing to a potential three-order-of-magnitude difference in expected impact among community members.

Community Building Implications: CEA suggests that community-building efforts should focus on individuals with high impact potential, considering the high variance and complementarity of the three factors. This approach aligns with the creation of an individual outreach team to support and engage with community members.

Concerns and Tensions: The article acknowledges tensions in community building, including the balance between inclusion and exclusion, the roughness of the evaluation model, and potential perceptions of elitism. CEA is cautious about the cultural impact of explicit prioritization and aims to maintain an open and inclusive community.

Future Plans: CEA acknowledges ongoing efforts to navigate these tensions and encourages feedback from the community. The organization emphasizes the importance of creating a supportive culture while effectively allocating resources to maximize impact.

📑Personal notes and open questions:

  • Intuitively, I would guess that “realization” and “resources” are more important in the context of impactful animal advocacy, as many advocates are quite dedicated. However, actually channeling this dedication in the most effective way might be another hurdle (e.g., some advocates might do 10+ hours of street activism per week but don’t donate/don’t donate effectively for reasons unrelated to personal resources; this would suggest not an increase, but a shift in dedication - which, I guess, could count as “realization”).
  • It is not clear at all who “high impact potential” community members are (i.e., they are not necessarily those who participate in events most often or engage in discussions most frequently). Two separate but complementary approaches might be to increase broad engagement and ensure the most relevant resources and opportunities are communicated to everyone and lean into the heavy tail distribution by creating more tailored, in-depth resources for those more engaged.
  • Individual engagement might be more correlated with momentum rather than potential impact. It might prove useful to link these by ensuring that new community members are welcomed at their peak interest.

Note by CEA: This page was published in 2018 and is no longer an accurate description of CEA's thinking. We're leaving it up as a historical resource, which we know is cited elsewhere when referring to the funnel model.

🔑 Key Takeaways:

  • The organization employs a funnel metaphor to conceptualize its projects, identifying different stages from attracting an audience to nurturing contributors and leaders within the effective altruism community.
image
  • CEA uses a Concentric Circles model to map out its approach, with projects targeting different stages of the funnel, such as bringing in new followers, encouraging participation, and supporting contributors to become core members.

  1. Audience to followers: Newsletters, Local groups
  2. Followers to Participants: Local groups, Conferences, Content
  3. Participants to Contributors: Conferences, Internships
  4. Contributors to Core: Grants, individual outreach
  5. Core to leadership

📑Personal notes and open questions:

🔑 Key Takeaways:

  • Fidelity is defined as adherence to fact or detail, and the "Telephone Game" effect is used as a metaphor to illustrate how different communication mechanisms vary in their fidelity, from low to high.
  • Spreading [IAA] ideas poses a challenge due to the nuanced and interconnected nature of these concepts. Some communication methods may simplify or distort the ideas, potentially leading to misconceptions.
  • The model evaluates the fidelity of communication mechanisms based on four components: breadth, depth, environment, and feedback. High-fidelity methods allow for exploring many ideas in depth, in conducive environments, with the ability to adapt based on feedback. [IAA Community builders could focus on communicating ideas in nuance wherever necessary. A practical tool for doing this effectively is to anticipate for counterarguments for particularly controversial/complex ideas and, if applicable, proactively addressing them.]
  • The Awareness/Inclination Model suggests that low-fidelity methods may increase awareness of [IAA] without necessarily increasing inclination, potentially limiting the long-term impact of idea adoption.
  • The model might imply a decreased focus on mass media in favor of higher-fidelity methods like books and podcasts, a focus on local and in-person interactions for higher fidelity, and an emphasis on establishing academic credibility for [IAA] ideas.

📑Personal notes and open questions:

  • IAA might require a bit less nuance than EA, suggesting that the model is less important in this context.
  • Depending on your local community, some worries about “controversial” ideas might be unwarranted and overcomplicating points could seem unnecessarily defensive.

🔑 Key Takeaways:

Focus on Talent Development: The primary goal of running an [IAA] local group is to identify, attract, and develop top talent to help them have a more significant impact. This follows from the heavy tail distribution of impact.

Local groups should:

  • Focus on the most engaged members of the group and their career planning, as opposed to continuously trying to onboard new people.
  • Focus on learning and developing a more nuanced understanding of the ideas of [impactful animal advocacy] instead of hosting public events.
  • Not focus on having a lot of direct impact.

Three Stages Approach:

Stage I (Finding People): Attract potential members through outreach activities, an introductory event, and various channels targeting specific groups.

Stage II (Getting Interested People Involved): Conduct face-to-face meetings, preferably over coffee, to deepen engagement and provide resources. Run a seminar[/fellowship/course/…] to deepen understanding.

Stage III (Career Planning and Integration): Focus on career planning, discussion groups, social meetups, research projects, group retreats, and continuous face-to-face meetings.

General Advice for Local Group Leaders:

  • Deepen your own understanding of [IAA].
  • Utilize existing resources and networks [such as the IAA Slack].
  • Consider the most effective use of your time—community building may not be the best fit for everyone.
  • Offer [IAA] ideas but don't push too hard; let people engage at their own pace.

Outreach Strategies:

  • Use various channels, including Facebook, Meetup, personal referrals, [veganism-related events], and targeted groups.
  • Use an effective [ IAA] pitch to communicate ideas. [Consider using a facilitated workshop/discussion format for pitching IAA to animal advocates!]
  • [Engage in/with animal advocacy/vegan communities for targeted outreach]

Introductory Event:

  • The main goal of the introductory event is to get people to [join your group], sign up for a seminar[/fellowship/course…], and/or meet you for a 1:1.
  • Talk to people!
  • Organize events early and assign responsibilities.
  • Use professional touches like banners and signs. [I am strongly uncertain about this one; quite possibly, the professional touch seems corporate/condescending to animal advocacy communities]
  • Promote seminar[/fellowship/course…] during the event.

Seminar[/fellowship/course…]:

  • [Consider running different courses; an intro to IAA; intro to AltProt; …]
  • [Consider running the courses 2-4 times per year until interest declines, as it is very likely that interested people lack the time, since it is a stronger commitment to attend a 4-8 week long course]
  • Structure sessions for deep engagement, using input talks, group discussions, and workshops.
  • Limit group size for better interaction.
  • Incorporate external talks or speakers.
  • [Emphasize input from participants]

Career Planning and Integration:

  • Prioritize creating A/B/Z career plans aligned with 80,000 Hours' priority paths. [Aligned with Animal Advocacy Careers?]
  • To create such plans, conduct career planning groups or link community members with relevant resources.
  • Organize Social meetups, discussion groups, and continue meeting people over coffee throughout all stages to integrate them more into the community.

Adaptability:

  • Deviate from recommendations as needed, considering the unique circumstances and goals of your local group.
  • View recommendations as a baseline for comparison rather than strict guidelines.

📑 Personal Notes and Open Questions:

  • I would intuitively say that the common outreach style (introductory talk) is less applicable/less easily frameable in the context of IAA community building (assuming a key factor is attracting animal advocates to engage with effectiveness). A possibly better introductory event might be something that emphasizes community input, such as a workshop or discussion group.
  • In our community, our first event was a discussion round/workshop with four facilitated groups around four foundational questions in effective animal advocacy that we found particularly salient in our local community + provided a lot of arguments and insights that are less commonly discussed and have the power to communicate the complexity and thereby the epistemic honesty needed in IAA. We hosted four 30-minute sessions so that participants could switch around in groups, but felt like 30 minutes was not enough time. Our aim for each group was that every participant brought in all the input to the question they wanted and heard every argument from the list, either by other participants or the facilitator. I should note that 30 minutes was not quite enough in this particular event, although at other events we managed to go through the arguments quicker - there might be a lot of variance based on the group (size) and question.
  • I don’t think that professionalism is appreciated in this context. I would intuitively guess that the key to IAA outreach is a collaborative, inclusive spirit where “conventional” animal advocates have space for their input and we strongly emphasize epistemic openness and modesty while being firm on existing research and dealing with uncertainty. I am afraid that professionalism might communicate a sense of “We show you how to do it correctly”, rather than “Hey, let’s find out together how to do this! Here are a bunch of resources, what do you think?”.
  • I am uncertain about the heavy-tail thing. I do think that the premise - the impact is heavy-tail distributed - is fair, but I am less sure about how to put this into action (i.e., should we emphasize Stage 1 or Stage 2/3 more?). Our community currently still tries to host introductory level talks and discussions (as well as socials) and emphasizes less on 1:1s. Naturally, it requires both and my best guess is that Stage 1 becomes less and less important over time. However, I fail to see a good indicator as to when a community should slowly shift focus. Maybe this is something that can simply be split between two community builders.
  • The article briefly mentions the timing of intro events (Semester-dependent). I am unsure if this applies to IAA community building and I guess it depends on how many students there are in your local Animal Advocacy Community.
  • Importantly, this introductory-event-+-fellowship-at-the-start-of-each-semester type of yearly schedule does not apply to IAA outreach, as you don’t usually expect to have a new group in front of you at every intro-event. Intuitively, I would suggest running an intro event (+ course) based on interest/new people (i.e., in some communities, that’s once a year - in others that could be four times).
  • I am less sure about the course, as it is more likely that people are super interested but didn’t have the time, so it’s plausible that you could run it 2-4 times per year.
  • All of this makes me uncertain about the Intro - 1:1s - Course timeline of this article. However, 1:1s following intros does seem significant, as it touches upon different key learning -> getting people engaged at their peak interest.

🔑 Key Takeaways:

We may succeed at helping people identify how to increase their expected impact, but we sometimes struggle to motivate and engage people to take action. Great leaders and community builders are able to build environments that catalyze action from rationale.

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) states that we have more self-determined motivation when our basic psychological needs - autonomy, competence and relatedness - are satisfied.

Self-determined motivation is undermined by experiences of being externally controlled, whether by tangible expected rewards (e.g. prize, grades), controlling language (e.g. use of "should" or "have to") or punishment.

Self-determined motivation is however not undermined when individuals feel personally endorsed with the value of the external factor (identified regulation), or when they have internalized the external factors as complying with their own core values (integrated regulation).

Autonomy concerns a sense of initiative and ownership in one’s actions and can be supported by: relying on non-controlling language, avoiding or proactively addressing controlling factors (e.g., rewards, external pressures, expectations), nurturing inner motivational resources, practicing mindfulness, and aiding with introspective self-reflection in teams or 1-1 conversations.

Competence concerns the feeling of mastery, success and growth, and is among others supported by: relying on informational language, and constructively questioning someone’s approach.

Relatedness concerns a sense of belonging and connection and might be supported by behaviors that demonstrate ongoing and authentic interest, care, and fellowship within the group, such as active listening, perspective talking, mentoring, and opportunities to develop relations with others.

Interventions to support Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness:

image

Train leaders and community builders in autonomy-supportive behavior:

  • Nurture inner motivational resources (e.g., interests, goals, preferences, morals, feelings) by first gaining awareness of them, to later find ways to coordinate the inner motivational resources with the required work behavior.
  • Rely on non-controlling and informational language (e.g., “If you want to maximize the impact of your donations, consider donating to GiveWell’s top recommended charities as they are considered many times more cost-effective than direct cash transfers”, rather than “You should donate to GiveWell’s top recommended charities if you want to maximize your impact”)
  • Acknowledge and accept negative affect, and promote the value of activities (e.g., “We understand that you might be tired of feedback forms - this is a totally valid reaction - but please remember that your feedback is tremendously important at helping us improve at what we do.”).

📑 Personal Notes and Open Questions:

  • I see my recent experimentation with proactively involving community members (e.g., co-facilitating workshops, summarizing an article, etc.) in this framework and found it quite successful. While the jury is still out, I would tentatively support the idea that involving community members as > ”mere” attendees might be a very potent way of sparking autonomous projects; at the very least, it strengthens your delegation skills, takes some workload off of you, and (quite likely) enhances their engagement.
  • Furthermore, proactively involving community members could increase comfort in general participation, as more and more people within the community are seen participating, others might have a lower entry barrier doing so as well.
  • All of this might support hosting more events that proactively invite community engagement, such as research digest events (once again, the jury’s still out).
  • I am wondering if fellowships/courses enhance the feeling of competence (as they might point out knowledge gaps and lead to something like a Dunning-Kruger effect).

🔑 Key takeaways:

The Positive Impact Society Erasmus (PISE) shares their experience and learnings from The Culture Code. Find the summary of the book here.

The Culture Code claims that there are three ingredients of exceptional organizational culture: safety, vulnerability, and purpose.

Groups succeed because their members primarily communicate a powerful idea: we are safe and connected. Then, they translate connection & safety into trusting cooperation through vulnerability: a shared exchange of openness. Finally, they create purpose with simple beacons that focus attention and engagement on the shared goal. In summary, you need to feel safe in a group, such that you can express vulnerability and have a shared purpose. The (lack of) care for these elements is one way of explaining why some groups thrive and others don’t.

There are three main actions that the group takes based on the book:

The group hosts an annual event based on the book (find slides and workbook to create a presentation), focussed on concrete ways to apply these findings.

The group facilitates follow-up calls with committee leaders to reflect upon and ensure application.

The group has quarterly reflection sessions, where they actively reflect upon safety, vulnerability, and purpose with guiding questions.

This procedure led to a variety of concrete actions:

Boosting engagement and retention with new community members with longer form 1:1s, focused on questions like "who are you? What are your ambitions? How can our organization help you grow to meet those ambitions?”

Frame feedback as “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.”

Overdo your “Thank you’s”.

When first talking to new group organizers focus on displaying your past mistakes early on in the interaction. Showing vulnerability like that sets a precedent: we are not here to appear strong, but to openly explore together.

🔑 Key takeaways:

David Nash gives an overview of why we might build cause-area specific groups, what questions to consider and provides a rough framework to keep in mind. The content below is almost entirely copied and pasted, as David Nash’s writing is very concise and clear:

List of considerations

Goals

  • What is the purpose of having this group?

Current Situation

  • What activities and digital infrastructure is already in place?
  • Who are the key people?
  • What adjacent communities/networks are there?

Strategy questions

  • Who do you want to be part of this group?
  • How would you filter for these people?
  • How will people discover your group?
  • How would you provide value to them?
  • How do you ensure high-value first impressions?
  • How will people get more involved?
  • How will you keep people up to date?
  • How will you create connections (and repeat connections) between members?
  • How much should you focus between in-person and online engagement?
  • What activities/projects/events will be useful to build this group?
  • What culture do you want?
  • What common norms already exist/would you want to promote?
  • What cultural differences are there to consider?
  • What digital infrastructure will you need?

Evaluation

  • What would success look like?
  • How could you quantitatively or qualitatively evaluate success?
  • What metrics could you use?
Framework
  • Schelling point
    • You’ll need a place that you can point people to when they first hear about the group and to get a sense of the purpose and the value they'll get from joining. This is usually a website but could be a Slack channel/Facebook group/Google doc
  • A way to keep members up to date (one to many connections)
    • E.g., Newsletter, Slack, Messenger-based group
  • A way to connect members with each other 1-1 (one to one connections)
    • E.g., A directory of members with their interests, a mentorship/coaching scheme, email introductions, events, assisted serendipity
  • A way for members to share ideas with each other (many to many connections)
    • Facebook group, [Messenger-based group], Slack channel, forum, events
    • This may be the key space that you need to filter for members as it provides access to everyone else
  • A way members can find relevant information
    • Can be a website or a resources document that has up-to-date links for an area. That may include info on jobs, research, projects, useful contacts

🔑 Key takeaways:

There is an Unseen Majority in EA that doesn’t look to “join a community”. These might still have an interest in increasing their impact and would benefit from a variety of resources and services. [Analagously, there might be a wide range of pro-animal people interested in more/the most impactful ways to contribute without actively attending events. Here, as well, defocussing from engagement-driven heuristics and providing accessible resources and services on a wider range of people might prove useful.]

📑 Personal Notes and Open Questions:

  • I believe this consideration implies that the outreach of a local IAA community should go beyond engaged animal advocates.
  • It might be important to provide key resources and support to a wider audience

🔑 Key takeaways:

There are a variety of elements that contribute to volunteer retention:

Reciprocity. In managing volunteers, it is essential to understand their motivations and needs, fostering a reciprocal relationship. Supporting volunteers by sharing resources, assessing their contributions to the organization, and ensuring alignment with their motivations helps maintain a meaningful and mutually beneficial partnership.

Meaning. Encourage individuals to identify reasons for the significance of their work by employing indirect questions, such as exploring the potential impact of their projects. Additionally, provide a broader context to help them understand the personal and organizational relevance of their contributions, using tangible examples to make the goals more concrete and relatable.

Appreciation and Trust. Express genuine gratitude frequently, trust your volunteers' capabilities and intentions, provide constructive feedback with a focus on trust rather than control, and balance guidance with autonomy, creating a positive and appreciative work environment.

Structure and Direction. To alleviate the feeling of being stuck and enhance volunteer satisfaction, it's crucial to provide structure and direction. This can be achieved by setting clear challenges with deadlines, breaking down tasks into manageable sub-tasks, summarizing and celebrating achievements, offering clear and easily accessible work instructions, and designating a central person or mentor who explicitly welcomes questions, fostering a sense of progress and support within the volunteer experience.

Social Environment. To enhance the volunteer experience and increase the likelihood of sustained engagement, fostering a positive team spirit is crucial. This can be achieved by investing time in casual chats to demonstrate genuine care for individuals, encouraging collaborative work through team projects or co-working sessions (both in-person and online), creating a learning community with shared goals and knowledge-sharing, and prioritizing connections between volunteers to strengthen the social fabric and ensure continuity even if the central coordinator changes.

Organizational Culture. To establish a desired organizational culture, it is crucial to set and reinforce norms, lead by example, reflect on existing structures, and incentivize desired behaviors through public recognition and celebration. These measures collectively contribute to shaping a positive and values-driven work environment.

🔑 Key takeaways:

[This content is largely copied and pasted from the summary of the original post. I further shortened the text, omitted aspects that seemed less relevant from the IAA Local Group perspective and expanded on examples wherever theycommunity-building seemed relevant].

  • Useful mindsets for community building:
    • Take charge and responsibility: Be agentic, ambitious, conscientious, and check in with others. If not you, who else? But consider - community building work is often public-facing, and reputational risks can be costly--first impressions are hard to shake!
    • Try to really figure things out: Think critically about how we can really do the most good, and then actually do it. Instill this curiosity and drive in your group members.
    • Take ideas (and their implications) seriously.
  • Becoming a strong friend group and team:
    • Because of our [Core organizers] shared values and goals, as well as lots of time we’ve spent together, there is a strong sense of us being on the same team, trying to help each other out as much as we can, and wanting to achieve amazing things together.
    • It’s also much more fun to do things for your group and with other organizers when you really enjoy their company!
  • High-level goals for your group:
    • A helpful proxy for doing as much counterfactual good as possible for [IAA] groups is optimizing the number of members who are highly engaged with the [IAA] community and pursuing career plans based on trying to do the most good possible.
      • Get others excited about community building; as you can communicate to them: [animal advocates often are ambitious and passionate] and the multiplier effect on your impact can be huge.
      • Leverage the community (existing resources, networking, asking for help, etc) and improve it (e.g. by sharing your resources and experiences running your group)!
      • Create a culture of: Curiosity (how do we really do the most good?), ambition and entrepreneurship (think of amazing things and actually do them), and an engineering mindset (constantly think and act on improvements for the group).
  • Best Practices and Lessons:
    • Lessons
      • Students are much more receptive to career-focused messaging than donation-focused messaging.
      • Recurring programming is much better than one-off programming for retention. Prioritize programming like fellowships, reading groups, career intensives, recurring socials, and research programs over one-off talks, socials and workshops (without followup).
    • Best Practices
      • Learn, reflect, write, and talk with people about EA [and IAA] (a lot)
      • Advertise aggressively - highly recommended to personally invite friends to events and programs.
      • Focus on retention and deep engagement over shallow engagement
      • Prioritize 1:1s and personalized programming - the group had positive experiences with 2:1- 5:1 (fellows to organizers) ratios.
      • Getting involved should be easy and clear
      • Make group involvement (highly) valuable to group members
      • Tight-knit community and support network and team - 1:1s, coworking, accountability buddies, recurring socials
      • Prioritize leadership succession
      • Be proactive, entrepreneurial, and experimentative [and share your learnings!]
      • Always think about how to scale things up and be ambitious
      • Try to have a strong reputation, especially with your target audience
      • Network and communicate with others a lot

📑 Personal Notes and Open Questions:

  • I am unsure about the importance of getting people excited about community building, although I will say that the succession aspect would further strenghten the case to get at least a small group of people particularly excited.
  • Questions about deep engagement vss. shallow engagements remain unclear. One point in support of deep engagement in the article is the talent gap and therfore the need for career involvement, which requires deep engagement. However, the animal advocacy movement appears to not only be mainly fuding constrained, but also in need for a more diverse funding base. All of this to say that while deep engagement is still very important - and in the role of an IAA Local Group builder possibly easier to control/focus on - the importance of wide spread shallow engagement and donations should not be neglected.
  • As the IAA movement doesn’t draw from new students each semester, application of recurring intro programs might need to be more closely evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

🚀 Event Ideas

Here are a bunch of event ideas, largely drawing from the EA Groups Resource Center. Feel free to consult the center to How To Run Events and some General Things to Consider when it comes to running events. Additionally, know your seasons! E.g., if you have a smaller turnout during December, try to run more socials rather than significant topic-based events.

🧭 Introduction Event

Introductory events are a great way to initially attract animal advocates to your group! As opposed to other Intro events, it might make sense to emphasize community input rather than intro presentations. Here are some ideas modelled on the Summary of Evidence for Foundational Questions in Effective Animal Advocacy. The goals of these events are (1) all participants have heard all (relevant) arguments on either side of the foundational question(s); (2) all participants have brought forward their personal key arguments themselves, and (3) all new arguments are noted and added to a community-sourced list of arguments.

[Workshop idea; general overview]

Introduction to Impactful Animal Advocacy

Choose e.g. four questions from the Summary of Evidence for Foundational Questions in Effective Animal Advocacy and find one facilitator for each question who knows all the arguments in their question. Host small group discussions, rotating the groups every e.g. 30 minutes. The goal of the facilitator is that every participant has heard all (key) arguments of the list. Ideally, they should focus the discussion on participant input, trying to have participants bring forward as many arguments as they can think of before they fill in the gaps. [Follow up with a dinner at a vegan restaurant]

[Talk + Workshop idea; question specific; potentially good for a series of events]

Impactful Animal Advocacy: [Foundational Question]

Choose one question from the Summary of Evidence for Foundational Questions in Effective Animal Advocacy (e.g. Momentum vs. Complacency from welfare reforms - find Slides and Collection of arguments). Prepare a talk in which you (or someone else!) briefly present the key arguments from both sides with a Q&A for clarifying questions. Follow this with small group discussions with facilitators. The goal of the facilitator is that every participant has heard all (key) arguments of the list. Ideally, they should focus the discussion on participant input, trying to have participants bring forward as many arguments as they can think of before they fill in the gaps. [Follow up with a dinner at a vegan restaurant]

If you do see a presentation fit; here are some slides you can use for orientation:

(If you have tried and tested an intro event, feel free to add them(?))

🌱 Courses

Courses are a great way for people to dive deeper into the field of impactful animal advocacy! While they do take a lot more time and resources to facilitate, both participants and facilitators engage more deeply. Courses are particularly important, because the field of impactful animal advocacy is vast and confusing, and often full of new information for animal advocates. Having a structured way to dive into all of these resources enables motivated people to get “properly” involved in the space and learn their way around the landscape. You can run or promote existing courses, create your own syllabus or adapt existing syllabi. If you don’t facilitate the course, consider running something like a studdy-buddy group to ensure community-internal connections.

📕 Reading Groups

Here are some tips on how to run reading groups as well as Book suggestions:

💬 Socials

Social events are important to cultivate and maintain a friendly community, facilitate connections, and simply enjoy yourself in a casual atmosphere. There are some considerations by the EA Resource center that broadly also apply to IAA community building that you can find here. Furthermore, Effective Animal Advocacy Austria maintains a list of event ideas here (work in progress).

The ideas here are endless! Some are:

  • Visit a new and/or particularly amazing vegan restaurant together
  • Run a Pub Quiz (consider running questions centred around impactful animal advocacy, such as the one by Effective Animal Advocacy Austria)
  • Run a Game Night at a local Cafe that offers board games
  • Facilitate a nice walk/hike (with rotating 1:1s)
  • Potluck/Picnic events
👁‍🗨 Topic-based Events

Topic-based events are a great way to communicate interesting concepts and ideas, sparking discussion and further engagement. Here, just like with socials, the ideas are endless! You can run talks about an important topic, discussion rounds, workshops, etc.! Effective Animal Advocacy Austria maintains a list of topic-based events with rough descriptions here (work in progress). Some general topics to cover are:

  • (One of) the foundational questions in effective animal advocacy
  • Effective giving
  • Careers in Animal Advocacy
  • Burnout and Mental Health
  • Neglected areas in (conventional) animal advocacy
  • [EA Concept] applied to animal advocacy

🙌 Other ideas

Community building is about more than running events and other programs. Provide value to your community by providing services and regular engagement. Here are some ideas:

🎞 Weekly Digests

Offer updates on the impactful animal advocacy space! I send out weekly updates for the Effective Animal Advocacy groups. This helps your community to stay up-to-date while nudging them towards key organizations within the landscape. I usually look for news in the IAA Slack Group, the EA Forum (filtered for Animal Welfare), Faunalytics, ACE’s Blog, and the How I Learned to Love Shrimps Podcast. I personally like to keep it to the 4-7 most important things that happened in the week and occasionally add non-animal advocacy related EA Forum posts, if they seem relevant.

📚 Community resources

Keep a collection of Community resources, which you can slowly build up and fill with resources created from within the community. These can be Slides from presentations, summaries, interactive documents like Q&A’s, and other Write-Ups. See Effective Animal Advocacy Austria’s Community Resources here.

🧠 Career or Donation advice

[Not directly tested]

I am unsure about the best format to do so, but generally speaking, you might consider offering career and/or donation advice, if this is your area of expertise. Effective Animal Advocacy Austria has found that both of these services are very much appreciated, but is still in the progress of figuring out how to best promote them and set them up.

⏳ Office Hours

[Not tested]

If you have a regular hour a week or so you could consider setting up office hours - i.e., an open call in which people can join to chat and ask questions. This would be especially valuable if a) you recognize that this type of service is very much appreciated in your community and/or b) you can use the hour for other work if no one shows up. In the latter case, the service is low-effort, as it only involves you being in an open call while doing your work.

👩🏻‍🤝‍👩🏻 1:1s

Depending on the size of your community, consider having 1:1s with all/the majority of/key members of your community. This helps you understand your community more and offers a better chance for your community members to get to know you and get involved. This might be especially beneficial in the beginning of your community, as community members might offer valuable input that you can use to further improve the group. Ideally seek to chat about impactful animal advocacy and actively ask for their opinion, rather than just offering your input.

[Not tested] If applicable, consider matching people in your community for 1:1s.

❓ Q&A’s/AMA’s

Run either constantly running or event-based Q&As (see example) to answer personalized questions from within your community. Make sure to be knowledgeable or know someone knowledgeable about the topic your Q&A is based to avoid giving bad advice.

🚀 Regular coworking sessions

[Not tested]

If you need a coworking partner anyway, consider making it a regular event. Meet at a cafe, a library or an online space once a week to study/work on stuff together.

📊 Monitor and Evaluation

Learn more about Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning here.

This part is adapted from the EA Groups Resource Centre

In general, by conducting self-assessments, groups can better understand their members' needs and desires, pinpoint and address potential issues, and plan more strategic events. Such assessments also pave the way for a collective learning experience, enabling groups to share best practices, innovations, and lessons learned rather than repeatedly starting from scratch. This not only promotes a culture of continuous improvement but also helps ensure time and resources are allocated to proven, impactful strategies.

Things to track!

Metrics play a crucial role in understanding the effectiveness of a group's initiatives. To gauge impact and guide future strategies, it's advisable to adopt multiple metrics, being adaptive to feedback and evolving circumstances.

Engagement Duration:

  • How many people have engaged with your group for x hours in the past year?
  • Number of individuals who've spent at least 10, 50, or 100 hours with effective altruism[/AA] content.

Application of AA Principles:

  • Count of people using effective altruism principles to:
    • Decide on charitable donations.
    • Formulate career objectives.
    • Participate in [AA]-related projects.
    • Apply to specific job positions or internships.
    • Select academic programs.

Commitment Metrics:

  • Number of people who completed a fellowship in full
  • Attrition rate from fellowships

Event Attendance:

  • How many unique attendees were at each event?
  • Ratio of returning attendees to new ones.

Content Interaction:

  • How many people interacted with online content or webinars?
  • Number of downloads or shares of group resources.

Guidelines for gathering data

Feedback Forms & Surveys:

  • For self-reported evaluations, use feedback forms and surveys post-events or periodically.
  • Craft clear and jargon-free questions, ensuring they're understandable to a wider audience.
  • Gauge frequency; while feedback after events is beneficial, frequent independent surveys might lead to "survey fatigue," reducing participation.
  • Keep forms concise. In digital formats, make fewer mandatory questions, encouraging participants to complete rather than abandon the form.
  • You can use airtable or google forms to track forms and surveys. Google forms can be made into a spreadsheet through sheets which can be helpful for seeing responses and following up with certain people.

Examples of how to keep track of other metrics:

  • You can track interest in things through links that give you the number of people who opened them like bitly
  • Using spreadsheets to track fellowship data or people who attended events can be useful!
  • Digital platforms like google meets, zoom, or eventbrite can offer insights into online event durations and attendance, which can help calculate individual engagement hours.
  • For tracking content engagement, analytics platforms like google analytics can be instrumental.