Last updated: 4th October, 2023. We plan to update this page further in the coming months.
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The goal of this page is to give a theory of change for groups overall so that organisers know what they are trying to do, why they are being funded and why so much attention is going into groups.
Why do we care about groups; why do we fund them? A theory of change is a sketch of how actions taken will lead to causing desired outcomes. In the context of effective altruism, lots of organisations will identify the things they are trying to make happen, and then from this work out what they think the best way to get there is. In the context of university groups, a theory of change is trying to work out how the existence of high-functioning groups can lead to high positive impact.
The goal of effective altruism is to find the best ways to help others, and put them into practice. In other words, to do as much good as we can. What does this look like?
We believe a central obstacle to progress on the world’s most pressing problems is a shortage of talented people taking significant actions. Therefore, we are particularly excited about people pivoting into high-impact careers. This is not to say that we don't think spending time on funding and sharing EA ideas is not positive, just that perhaps these things are not as neglected as providing platforms for talented people to take significant actions. Some examples could be changing career plans, founding organisations or start-ups, or assisting those already producing impact. For more examples, see Ollie Base’s EA forum post about what people who were part of the EA Warwick group are doing now.
That isn't to say groups should only optimize for career changes (and we don’t advocate for trying to push people into specific careers); it’s one useful frame for understanding your group’s impact. This also suggests that you should focus time and effort on deeply engaging the most committed members rather than just shifting some choices of many people.
University groups have the potential to be especially promising places to introduce people to EA ideas, and then help them learn more about and act on them: