CEA Update: Q2 2021

post by MaxDalton (Maxdalton) · 2021-07-29T09:14:39.895Z · EA · GW · 3 comments

This is a link post for https://www.centreforeffectivealtruism.org/blog/cea-update-q2-2021/

Contents

    progress in Q2
        Groups
        Community Health
        Events
        Online
    progress in Q2
      Operations
      Staffing
  Program updates
    
      Key metrics
      Support
      Community Building Grants (CBGs)
      Fellowship programs
    Health
      Personnel updates
      Hiring
      Reactive work
      Key project areas
        Diversity, equity and inclusion:
        Epistemics:
        Brand:
        Culture:
    
      Key metric
      Hiring
      EAGx organizer training
      EA Picnic: San Francisco
      Future events
      Team
    
      Key metric
      Progress this quarter
  Internal updates
    
    
    operations
      Remote work
      Role changes
      Hires
      Hiring plans
      Departures
      Morale
      Org chart
      Other updates
None
3 comments

This update covers CEA's work in the second quarter of 2021.

CEA brings people together to discuss how we can help others as effectively as possible.

Program progress in Q2

You can find more details for each program further down in the update.

Groups [EA(p) · GW(p)]

Community Health [EA · GW]

We handled 60+ cases, including some important media cases.

Events [EA(p) · GW(p)]

Online [EA(p) · GW(p)]

Internal progress in Q2

Operations [EA(p) · GW(p)]

Our operations team improved CEA’s legal structure, began building new customer relationship management software, improved cybersecurity, and built a new internal wiki/staff handbook.

Staffing [EA · GW]

We made four full-time hires:

Program updates

These updates focus on the object-level progress of our front-facing programs. Hiring, personnel, and operations are covered in detail in the next section.

Groups

We help EA group organizers by advising them, providing resources they can use, and creating online spaces where they can share resources and support each other.

Key metrics

Support

We maintained our broad support for group leaders and started adding some team capacity.

Community Building Grants (CBGs)

We hired a new CBG Programme Manager, made 6 grants, and piloted activities to improve the CBG university pipeline.

Fellowship programs

543 people started a fellowship in Q2, which is about half as many people as in Q1, mostly because groups normally start their fellowships in Q1.

All data is based on the number of people who started a fellowship in the listed quarter. Fellowships last for 8-10 weeks. The average completion rate in Q1 was ~81%.

Fellowship data

Notes on this data:

Other notes on the fellowship programs:

Community Health

The Community Health team aims to preserve paths to value and mitigate key risks to the future of the EA community. Our work includes fostering a healthy culture, improving diversity, mitigating harm done by risky actors, protecting the brands of EA and longtermism, and identifying risks to early field-building.

Personnel updates

Hiring

Hiring was the team’s major focus for this quarter. Because community health work requires an unusual combination of skills, we expect to take hiring slowly and leave these positions open for much of this year rather than definitely making a hire. We listed 4 roles as ‘expressions of interest’ and expect to hire 0-2 new staff to the team for those roles. The open roles are:

We’ve also hired a personal assistant (contractor) for Nicole Ross, to help maximize Nicole’s capacity to focus on high-priority work.

Reactive work

We handled:

Examples of different types of cases from this quarter:

Key project areas

Given low capacity on the team this quarter, we’ve mostly prioritized epistemics and DEI.

Diversity, equity and inclusion:

Epistemics:

Brand:

Culture:

Events

Events enable attendees to make new connections, learn about core concepts, share and discuss new research, and coordinate on projects.

Key metric

Going forward, the team plans to focus more effort on making high-quality connections rather than curating content We chose to focus on this metric because connections have generally been the source of our strongest case studies, responsible for most of the impact recorded in a survey of highly involved EAs, and the main thing that attendees report to be their most valuable experience at our events.

We still need to figure out exactly how we’ll measure this, but we’re broadly looking for connections that were positive for both people involved, and were useful for at least one of the parties. The paradigmatic example would be connecting a junior person to someone more senior who can give them advice, mentorship, and/or further connections. However, we think that peer-to-peer connections (between people with similar levels of experience) might also be useful.

This means that developing the stewardship program is likely to be a key focus in the future. We might have a smaller selection of high-quality talks at future events (to structure the event, and convey key messages).

Here’s information on how many connections we estimate were made through our events from 2019 through 2021. A proxy for this metric is the number of estimated total new connections:[4]

Year Estimated total new connections
2019 8,757[5]
2020 15,261
2021 (to date) 6,289 (to date)

The 2021 figures do not include figures from EA Global: London, which is scheduled for later in the year. However, we think we’ll likely need to add more programming or expand events (e.g. by adding a virtual element to EA Global London) to match last year’s level. The main reason we’re falling short is that we had to turn EA Global: San Francisco into the smaller EA Picnic because of COVID, and because most of the planned EAGx events have been delayed until 2022.

Hiring

We are in the process of assessing candidates for the Events Generalist role and the Community Events Manager role.

EAGx organizer training

The EAGx online training aims to increase the confidence and connectedness of EAGx organizers.

As expected, the overall feedback for online training was not as good as the feedback for in-person training in 2020, but was still pretty good.

9 attendees filled in the survey after the training:

EA Picnic: San Francisco

Much of this quarter was spent planning the EA Picnic (July 11th), our first in-person event since the beginning of COVID.

This event focused on increasing the numbers of connections between highly-engaged community members:

Future events

We are planning to run the EA Coordination Forum for 40-60 attendees in Napa (California) on September 27-30. We also hope to be able to hold EA Global: London in person on October 29-31.

Team

Amy is now being managed directly by me (Max).

Online

The Effective Altruism Forum (EA Forum) aims to be the central place for collaborative discussion about how to do the most good.

Key metric

Hours of engagement hours are up by 124% year-over-year as of July 1st. (This is above our target of 100%, and means we’re on track to double engagement hours this year.)

Progress this quarter

Key progress:

Other progress:

Internal updates

Operations

The Operations team aims to provide the financial, legal, administrative, grantmaking, logistical, and fundraising support that enables CEA, 80,000 Hours, Forethought, and Giving What We Can to run efficiently.

Strategy

We set key proxy metrics for each department. In most cases, we were already tracking these metrics, but we were also tracking other metrics/factors. We’re now more focused on these metrics.

The Community Health team isn’t using a key proxy metric at the moment.

We plan to supplement these metrics (which are Goodhart-able and don’t capture all of the paths to value) with annual objectives focused on supplementary/qualitative/quality-focused targets. For instance, groups might have an objective about improving the quality of In-Depth fellowships or providing extra training for grant recipients.

We are also running a hiring round for an EA Strategy Coordinator. We had a work trial with one candidate who declined our offer, and we are now close to beginning further work trials.

People operations

Remote work

Previously, we’d been thinking about ourselves as an Oxford-based company with remote staff. We now think of ourselves as a remote organization with a hub in Oxford. We think that this will allow us to support remote staff more effectively, and attract remote talent.

Role changes

Harri Besceli has been carrying out hiring support for the two open Groups positions during Q2. In Q3 he will hand over CBG responsibilities to Rob Gledhill (new hire), and try out other roles at CEA (most likely as a research assistant to Max). If those roles aren’t a good fit, he’ll leave CEA.

Hires

We hired four staff this quarter, thanks largely to the efforts of the hiring managers (Joan, Ben, Josh).

We also brought on some new contractors, including:

Hiring plans

I’m hopeful that we can hire around 5 people in Q3.

We’re in the process of finishing recruitment rounds for the following positions (none of which are still open to applicants):

We’re also trying to expand the community health team by running expressions of interest for the following roles:

Departures

Sky Mayhew (Community Health) will move from being a core team staff member to working as a part-time consultant.

Morale

The average morale reported for Q2 was 7.03/10, compared with 6.45/10 in Q1.

Morale (Q2 2021)

Org chart

Org Chart

Other updates


  1. n = 25. ↩︎

  2. There are currently 19 focus university groups (chosen primarily based on the expected influence of an average graduate, with some weight also placed on the groups’ track records and leader quality. Current focus university groups in no particular order: Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Hong Kong University, Georgetown, Swarthmore, London School of Economics (LSE), Caltech, Berkeley, Chicago University, Columbia, Penn, and the law schools of Harvard, Stanford, and Yale. ↩︎

  3. This is true across group-run and Virtual Program fellowships. However, there is likely significant sample bias in the data, as the survey was only filled out by ~30% of EAVP participants and ~66% of local participants, all of whom self-selected to give us feedback. ↩︎

  4. This is the number of attendees for each event multiplied by the average number of new connections survey respondents said they made. We expect survey respondents to be more engaged in the event than average, so we think that the absolute numbers are too high, but the differences between events/years might be more meaningful. ↩︎

  5. This figure excludes EAGx events. ↩︎

3 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Josh Jacobson (joshjacobson) · 2021-07-29T14:52:25.437Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I really appreciate this sort of thorough update.

There are a large number of comparisons to only a single previous value. For example:

The average morale reported for Q2 was 7.03/10, compared with 6.45/10 in Q1.

For each instance, I’d value the inclusion of additional historic data or the acknowledgment of when more historic data isn’t available (because it wasn’t measured).

Replies from: Maxdalton
comment by MaxDalton (Maxdalton) · 2021-07-29T18:23:19.896Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I'm glad you appreciate it! Thanks for the feedback on those comparisons: I'll make a note to try to give more historic data points in the future.

comment by Peterslattery · 2021-07-30T05:04:59.683Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks! Great to see all of these developments!