EA Toronto - General Report - Looking Back at 2019post by ColinBested · 2020-02-19T17:59:35.338Z · score: 20 (9 votes) · EA · GW · 2 comments
Summary EA Toronto The Work of the EATO Community and Colin Total Estimations of Working Hours Career One-on-Ones Introductory One-on-Ones Regular Events Transformative Events Incorporating as Not-For-Profit Transparency and Handover Documents Increasing Effective Donations through Sharing RC Forward Supporting and Connecting with Other EA Groups and Organizers 80,000 Hours Connections Websites and Communications EATO Community Member Projects and EATO-Supported Projects CEA Programming Participation Learning Directly Related to EA Yearly Reports to Wrap Up 2019 Outcomes Career Outcomes - Aggregated and Listed Number of people attending EAG Group Size Group Health AI Safety Camp Toronto - AISC4 Reflections Future Plans Objectives and Key Results Forecast of Objectives Other Metrics Key Uncertainties and Respective Strategies Special Considerations Strategic Clarifications Commentary on CEA’s Proposed Outcomes and Retrospective Grant Criteria Colin’s Fit for EA Community Building Toronto Thank you, deeply, to CEA, our community members, supportive EA community builders around the world, and all the supporters of the EA Toronto community! None 2 comments
- EATO has continued to grow throughout 2019 with a core strategy that focused on one-on-one meetings, community member projects, and project events
- EATO’s event focus has switched from weekly Wednesday project events to monthly socials, monthly concept workshops, and quarterly immersive transformative events, while keeping the door open for member-driven events
- Colin is finishing up his 2nd CEA community building grant and plans to apply for another one that will last another year, until February 25th, 2021, if successful
- EATO plans to register as a not-for-profit in 2020 and, afterwards, to apply for growth funding from non-EA sources to take on interns
- EATO is gradually transitioning from a direct project work and big event hosting strategy to a coordination and support strategy
- The primary objective for 2021 will likely be career plan changes with supported events and coordination as secondary objectives
The main target audience of EATO is the intersection of early career professionals from a diversity of backgrounds and people who are interested in and capable of making an increased, positive impact over their lifetime (especially someone can score well on the three-factor model: resources, dedication, and realization— directed towards having an effective impact).
The size of EATO is 70-100 active members who check-in with the group through events, one-on-ones, and projects every quarter. Further, we have about 200 members on our Facebook group and Facebook page as well as 600 members on Meetup of which about 50-70 are active on any given month.
The structure of EATO features a growing variety of projects and communities, most of which I will explain in further detail in another section because of their relevance as EATO-supported projects.
- EA Toronto - the main group
- EA and Animal Advocacy Reading Group - a monthly reading group
- University of Toronto Effective Altruism (UTEA) - a small, new group
- Giving What We Can Toronto Meetup Group - a small, new group
- Inclusion and Diversity Group - a small and developing new group
- Feeling Good Reading Group - a small and developing new group
- Think Better, an EA-aligned not-for-profit, thinkbetter.ca - a five member team and an alumni community of about 100
EATO has a few different points of focus in terms of areas of interest, types of activities, and projects. There are four main focus areas that have come out of a mix of strategic planning and trying things: one-on-ones for career advising, donation projects and conversations, organically encouraging and supporting projects in general, and helping other EA groups improve their strategy and offerings.
The Work of the EATO Community and Colin
This is a description of the activities and projects EATO and our members have conducted during the grant period which also touches on outcomes that relate to particular activities and projects.
Total Estimations of Working Hours
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 932 hours
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 215 EATO project hours + 2586 community member project hours
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 130 hours: 90 hours in meetings, 30 hours pre and post work, 10 hours building and modifying resources and tools
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 100 hours
About 60 one-on-ones between an EATO member and Colin happened in 2019, and 40-150 other, usually less formal, one-on-ones happened between EATO members. Nearly all of Colin’s 60 meetings focused on career learning and application relating to EA and 80,000 Hours, though on average, career content was about 60% of the focus of these meetings whereas community, project, and other updates not directly relating to career learning and application were the rest. For the latter half of 2019, these meetings happened 40% through referrals and people finding out about the service and applying online and 60% through check-in reminders and announcements at meetings and via email. The content of these meetings was based on 80,000 Hours content and Colin’s accumulated knowledge and experience of EA frameworks and opportunities thanks to resources such as Huw’s guide about career one-on-ones and his Oxford experience.
One-on-ones seem to have played the primary role in causing most outcomes given in the case studies, including at least 5 significant career plans changes, 9 applications to EA org roles of which at least 3 resulted in interviews, 11 cases of improving and supporting pre-existing career plans, 18 less certain career plan changes, 1 new project collaborator (Think Better), 4 new project collaborations (UTEA, Feeling Good Reading Group, EATO’s Transformative Events Team, Toronto Effective Donations Project), and supporting the productivity and well-being of 70 active EATO members to some degree at least 11 of which rate as very important to their continued work.
Strategically, Colin tried to increase the frequency and quality of one-on-one meetings with a new sign-up form, more postings, more meeting availability, more referrals, and rounds of weekly CRM pushes to get updates from all participant, contributor, and core community members over each quarter.
Details on these one-on-one meeting practical updates are given here:
- The new sign-up form is adapted from EA London’s form, and much of the meeting info and context content on EATO’s form is thanks to Hannah
- More posting and marketing involves ongoing pushes for one-on-one meetings in EATO’s monthly newsletter, keeping relevant links at the top of our welcome and event pages, and sharing the push on social media every month or two
- More meeting availability means that Colin’s potentially bookable hours went from 8 in early 2019, to 18 in mid and late 2019, to 24 in early 2020—potentially bookable hours don’t count breaks between meetings, so without counting breaks there would be about 3, 7, and 11 actually bookable hours
- More referrals means that Colin now has a shortlist of people to refer new members to locally if they have particular interests including AI Safety, Operations, Marketing, Data Science, Inclusivity, Public Policy, Clean Meat, and Animal Advocacy
- Rounds of weekly CRM pushes to get updates from all participant, contributor, and core community members over each quarter means that Colin emails people on a recurring basis to do follow-ups which there might be a better CRM solution for in EATO’s future
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 20 hours
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 5 hours
We welcome new members to the community and offer them personalized recommendations about who to connect with and what to plan to do next in terms of EA learning and involvement. EATO had about 20 of these in 2019 and the outcomes of these largely overlapped with case study outcomes and project outcomes, as the meetings would nearly always move from introductory content to career and project content.
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 210 hours: 60 hours preparing events, 150 hours facilitating and attending events
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 50 hours
The full list of events can be found at bit.ly/EATOnotes.
61 EATO events happened in 2019, not including a few dozen co-working sessions and EATO-supported meetings with other communities and groups. EATO’s events were topic events (speaker, discussion, workshop), transformative events, and social events (party, open discussion, solstice). About 200 unique attendees, including 137 new attendees, came to our events in 2019.
Strategically, we moved from having weekly Wednesday meetings, with over half of these being project workshop meetings, to having an EA concepts workshop and a social event each month, plus a quarterly transformative event, in addition to pop-up topic and project events, hence, a shift in focus from quantity and frequent engagement opportunities to quality and specialized engagement opportunities.
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 12 hours: 6 hours preparing, 8 hour facilitating and attending
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 40 hours
EATO aims to have one especially high-quality, complex, immersive event each quarter which started in late 2019.
- EATO Life and Career Review Day, a volunteer organized event, helped 12 aspiring effective altruists learn about the community’s career related resources, look for blindspots in their life plans, run through two rationality-based planning exercises, and ask questions to five guest speakers taking unique career paths, including an ex-Director of Growth for CEA, two founders, a policy researcher, and an entrepreneur in AI. At least three attendees learned more about EA resources and career options while updating their career plans.
- In a few weeks there will be a Project Hackathon Weekend, and later in the year we’ll put on an organizer retreat and a mini-conference or unconference.
Incorporating as Not-For-Profit
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 6 hours
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 4 hours
EATO is seeking legal status as a not-for-profit organization in 2020 so that we can apply for expansion funding from a wider variety of non-EA sources and set up a large part of our operations under a more focused, established, and legible structure. At this time, we have drawn up all of the paperwork, though we have not yet submitted it as we still have some editing and consensus building to do.
Transparency and Handover Documents
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 4 hours
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 0 hours
- There are updated archives of what EATO contributing members prioritize in terms of models, actions, and past actions as well as a group planning meeting archive and an event data archive, much of which is available publicly on our website.
Increasing Effective Donations through Sharing RC Forward
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 2 hours
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 4 hours
RC Forward is a Canadian platform for tax-deductible donations to effective charities.
- Through social media posts, one-on-ones, and events, RC forward was shared causing 30-100 people to have been made aware of it and become more likely to use it.
- At least 5 of our members now use RC Forward for their donations.
Supporting and Connecting with Other EA Groups and Organizers
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 20 hours
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 0 hours
Maintaining Connections with EA Singapore, EA France, EA Philippines, South Bay EA, EA Hong Kong, EA Chicago, and EA Waterloo
- Thanks to Brian from EA Philippines, Colin was able to have conversations with Brian and Kate that touched on many aspects of EA community building strategy and practice, which seemed helpful to them
- Thanks to Laura from EA France, Colin and Laura have swapped many ideas on EA community building best practices and mutual support
- Thanks to Sindi (Colin’s CFAR buddy), Colin was able to connect with Linchuan from South Bay EA to discuss many aspects of EA community building strategy, practice, and planning
- Thanks to Yufeng from EA Hong Kong and his study abroad program, Colin talked with Yufeng about community building strategy and career considerations
- Colin talked with Eric from EA Chicago about community building early-stage strategy and practice
- Colin connected with Michael from EA Waterloo to discuss community updates and working on a Canadian ballot initiative project, and they are moving forward with this new project slowly
80,000 Hours Connections
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 2 hours
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 0 hours
- After the 80,000 Hours and EA Community Builders Call, Colin sent a shortlist of potential EA “rockstars”—promising candidates that fit certain EA talent-gap niches—to Peter, and the list continues to get updated.
Websites and Communications
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 30 hours
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 4 hours
- EATO recently made effectivealtruismcanada.com so that Canadian search results for EA will lead to more useful, completed, connected, and coordinated resources—the decision to build this website was based on a wider review of EA community building and EA infrastructure projects in Canada
- EATO continues to update and maintain eatoronto.com to share information about EA, our group, and EA opportunities
- EATO continues to publish a more content-rich monthly newsletter that shares relevant EA content, EATO community updates, and EA opportunities
- EATO got email@example.com thanks to EA Hub!
EATO Community Member Projects and EATO-Supported Projects
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 116 hours: 20 hours general planning and other projects, 20 hours ThinkBetter participation and support, 6 hours EA & AA Reading Group participation and support, 40 hours AI Safety Camp main organization and team building, 10 hours U of T EA support and participation, 4 hours GWWC Meetup organizing and participation, 2 hours Inclusion and Diversity Group, 8 hours Feeling Good Reading Group, 6 hours Toronto Effective Donations Project
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 2586 hours: 10 hours general planning, 2000 hours ThinkBetter work, 30 hours EA & AA Reading Group work, 400 hours AI Safety Camp work, 30 hours U of T EA work, 10 hours Inclusion and Diversity Group, 8 hours Feeling Good Reading Group, 10 hours Google Donations, 8 hours Toronto Effective Donations Project, 80 hours additional projects
The full list can be found at bit.ly/EATOprojects, whereas this is a descriptive list of the highlights.
EATO Project Support consists of ongoing announcements, events, and reminders as well as our list of projects. EATO continues to encourage its community members to share their projects, work on new projects, and collaborate which seems to have been a driver for the number of projects that have been taken on, though this has been less of a focus over the last 6 months.
Think Better is an EA-aligned not-for-profit that started in late 2018 and incorporated in 2020 (thinkbetter.ca). It is run by five team members, and it has an alumni community of about 100 learners. They have run about 7 courses, 7 workshops, and 2 retreats to date. If the program succeeds in making measurable impacts on the attendee's rationality, learning, and well-being, then it will continue to run, grow, and plausibly become profitable through the corporate sector. It continues to support local and far-flung EAs and share insights with EA and rationality communities.
The EA and Animal Advocacy Reading Group is a monthly reading group that started in mid 2018 based on a syllabus developed by Jeff Sebo, NYU professor. The group meets monthly and gets 5-8 attendees. It has been running for about a year, and the group is currently going through some changes in strategy and leadership to help its members get more actively engaged in planning and working in the areas that they have learned about. The group is considering collaboration with Animal Equality and seeking pilot funding for community-building work among other options, though these plans are quite early-stage and tentative.
Artificial Intelligence Safety Camp Toronto is a continuation of the AISCs that have happened in Europe over the last few years. General information about AISC and AIS Research Program are available at aisafetycamp.com. AISC Toronto has an international team with 8 core members and 2 general support roles. Our plans and operations for the camp are moving along smoothly, and we expect the camp to be a success. We aim to evaluate the impact of the camp and share our forecasted nearer- and longer-term outcomes after the camp even more so than has been done in the past with other camps so that further development planning and resource allocation decision-making around AISCs and AISRPs can be improved.
The University of Toronto Effective Altruism Group is a persistent attempt to get a self-sustaining student group going. Finding people who are well-suited to push and establish the group is not easy. This has been a pet project of Colin’s since he started EATO community building, and he is always cooking up another strategy to kickstart the UTEA group and future UTEA community.
The Giving What We Can Toronto Meetup Group is a series of dinners and giving game events that take place every couple of months. It is a new initiative, started in early 2020, aimed at grouping a different part of the EA community, one that is both more accessible to the population at large in terms of content and more focused on giving.
The Inclusion and Diversity Group is a placeholder name for a group of people that are demographically and otherwise less represented in EA when compared with the local population of the group. In Toronto, this is a group of queer women, women of colour, and EA community members who have faced these issues and thought about these issues.
The Feeling Good Reading Group is a small, quiet, low-key, and welcoming handful of EATO community members and friends who are looking for a space to learn more about mental health and discuss relevant issues through discussing their thoughts on chapters of the book, the CBT popularizer and enduringly helpful guide, Feeling Good.
Google’s Toronto Office Holiday Fundraiser directed about $42,000 CAD to the Against Malaria Foundation because of one EATO member’s efforts.
The Toronto Effective Donations Project is a placeholder name for a group of people who are developing presentations that they plan to bring to organizations such as the Toronto Foundations thanks to a team of EATO members working with the support of RC Forward.
CEA Programming Participation
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 100 hours: 40 hours CEA Community Building Grant Residency, 40 hours CEA Community Building Grant Retreat, 20 hours EA Global London (travel time not included)
Learning Directly Related to EA
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 250 hours reading and watching talks
Yearly Reports to Wrap Up 2019
Estimate of Colin’s Time - 30 hours: 7 hours Case Studies, 17 hours General Report, 1 hour Membership Overview and Application for Further Funding, 5 hours 6-month evaluation
Estimate EATO Members’ Time - 8 hours answering survey questions
This is a description of the things which have been achieved during the grant period, the ways in which the community is different as a result, and the value of this. This section is largely an aggregation and clarification of other pieces of the report and external documents.
Career Outcomes - Aggregated and Listed
- 5 significant career plan changes where Colin is 90% certain that these people will take on 80,000 Hours Priority Path Roles over the next 5 years and have already had some success applying to such roles or have made concrete plans to do so
- Improving and supporting 11 pre-existing career plans that target 80,000 Hours Priority Path Roles and similarly impactful roles
- 18 uncertain career plan changes where Colin is 60% certain that these people will take on 80,000 Hours Priority Path Roles over the next 5 years and have made plans to do so that seem promising
- At least three of our members received 80,000 Hours coaching in 2019, two of which likely would not have happened without EATO
- 1 new project collaborator (Think Better)
- 4 new project collaborations (UTEA, Feeling Good Reading Group, EATO’s Transformative Events Team, Toronto Effective Donations Project)
- Supporting the productivity and well-being of 70 active EATO members to some degree at least 11 of which rate as very important to their continued work
Number of people attending EAG
- JS attended EAG SF 2019
- Jeremy and Colin attended EAG London 2019 and Wyatt was accepted though he didn’t attend
- Three members have been accepted to EAG SF 2020 and two of them have committed to attending. Additionally, one new transnational member who is already deeply involved with EA is going, and one recently relocated member applied and should be accepted soon
- EATO’s network has continued to grow as our community members continue to increase their engagement: 3 core, 18 contributor, 18 participant, 40 follower (March 2019: 3, 10, 16, 18; December 2018: 3, 7, 14, 16; March 2018: 3, 6, 9, 10)
- Event attendance has also grown: 7 people attended 20+ events, 10 for 15-20 events, 9 for 10-14 events, 7 for 6-9 events, 25 for 3-5 events, 80 for 1-2 events (Attendees over 3-month intervals: March 2019: 1, 7, 5, 10, 15, 25; March 2018: 0, 0, 5, 5, 10, 25)
- Through our open group planning meetings, EATO Impact and Feedback Survey, and our EATO Anonymous Feedback Form we have given community members opportunities to voice their concerns, and we find that basically everyone seems either happy, very happy, or neutral about the group
- The main concerns we get about the community are relating to clarity of purpose, clarity of the community, and diversity issues, so we have taken steps to address these concerns and we share our mistakes on our website
AI Safety Camp Toronto - AISC4
- Thanks to the work that has already been put in, we are on track for success in that we have built our team, built most of the camp, and raised our funding
- May 1st to May 10th 2020, in Blue Mountain, near Toronto Canada, about 30 participants and 10 organizers will come together to make AISC Toronto a success
- We expect to help 10 teams come together to work on 10 projects leading to at least two research positions acquired over the next year, three research pieces published over the next year, two more research positions over the next two years, and six more research pieces published over the next two years
These are thoughts on the year and the grant period as a whole, including an assessment of the value of the work conducted.
EATOs activities are connected to each other in ways that lead to our targeted outcomes and usually it seems to take a variety of contact points to achieve a targeted outcome, so I’ll try to estimate the proportion of value produced by different parts of the system while describing some of the connections.
Career focused one-on-ones continue to be the activity that seems to produce the most value directly and be the most effective use of time in terms of effort when combined with a good marketing strategy so that newcomers and EATO members are aware of one-on-ones. This activity is likely the most useful because it serves many important functions simultaneously:
- Recommending and sharing EA knowledge resources and opportunities in a high-fidelity and clearly communicated way
- Building trust in the shared information (because a human is delivering it)
- Supporting the construction of plans for further involvement in terms of careers, donations, projects, volunteering
- Welcoming someone into a global community of do-gooders
- Taking in explicit and tacit feedback about one-on-one services and EATO as a whole
Thus, one-on-ones continue to be time well spent when these goals are achieved, and qualitatively all of these goals seem to be achieved at over 90% of the meetings. Through rounding some numbers and managing to get the right people to these meetings, it looks like every 26 hours put into career-focused one-on-ones leads to 1 significant, 2 supported, and 4 uncertain career plan changes which also means that just over half 50% of these meetings don’t seem to result in much impact. Thus, if there was a way to predict outcomes perfectly ahead of time, then 50% or more of the time put into one-on-ones could be saved and directed elsewhere.
Moreover, effective career-focused one-on-ones are dependent on getting the right people to the meetings, and about 80% of the right people find EATO through events first. Thus, currently, about 80% of the value of career-focused one-on-ones depends on events. If we take the above stated outcomes and multiply them by 0.6 (or multiply the time cost by 1.6), then we’ll get an estimate of the impact attributed to career-focused one-on-ones in isolation: 42 hours invested results in 1 significant, 2 supported, and 4 uncertain career plan changes.
Regular events take up at least 60 hours of Colin’s focused-task time and 150 hours of facilitating and supporting events. Granting the assumption that half of the value of career-focused one-on-ones comes from getting the right people to the meeting, we can subtract 40% from the above—one-on-one—values and get some rough numbers: 30 hours of focused-task time and 75 hours of facilitating and supporting led to 1 significant, 2 support, and 4 uncertain career plan changes. This suggests that making events happen seems to be an effective use of time, comparable to one-on-ones, though if there was a way to get others to put in the hours, especially in facilitating and supporting events, while maintaining or improving the current set of outcomes, then that time could be invested elsewhere.
Estimating the impact of further activities seems to get more complicated, as it would require taking more chunks out of the career plan change outcomes and attributing the impact elsewhere. That impact can be further broken down with 116 hours on community member projects, 40 hours on EATO’s system building and online tools, 20 hours on introductory one-on-ones, and 12 hours on transformative events. 60% of the significant career plan changes involve people who are engaged in projects in addition to 50% of the supported and 20% of the less certain career plan changes. Though I am highly uncertain how their project involvement and other factors such as feeling like part of a group affected their career plan changes. 99% of EATO’s members use our online tools to connect with our services, so maintaining them seems essential and growing them seems useful. Introductory one-on-ones don’t seem to take up too much time and they have been valuable in a few clear cases. Transformative events are still a new service, a work in progress. Overall, it seems evident here that there are many different activities that have been taken on, and thus, for future plans, it seems advisable to narrow EATO’s portfolio so that 80% of the work is driving directly at career plan changes through 1-3 key pathways instead of through a wider variety of organic and indirect pathways spurred on by a wider portfolio of project work, as a wider set of activities tends to make causal pathways of success and failure less salient.
Supporting other groups was about 20 hours of Colin’s time, and it doesn’t seem worthwhile now to measure the outcomes of this beyond the simple, positive feedback that was received from the organizers themselves. If more time was put into this, say 40 hours, then it would seem worthwhile to comment on this further in a critical manner.
Ongoing learning and professional development seem to underly all of the work that happens at EATO in accord with having truth-seeking—adopting a scientific mindset—as a core principle of EA. This truth-seeking has in part consisted of at least 30 hours spent on evaluating EATO through report writing and publishing while the bulk of truth-seeking work has been done through 100 hours of participation in CEA’s programs and 250 hours of independent learning. Evaluation seems essential to the work that is done, so it could be justifiable to spend more than 30 hours doing so in addition to the many hours of strategic thinking and discussion that happens in off hours and at EATO group planning meetings. Hours spent participating in CEA programs are full-time, high-engagement hours that are hard to give time-value estimates on, though they seem quite valuable, for example, a wild guess from Colin seems to say that about a third of EATO’s strategy updates and insights are based directly on interactions with other community builders and EA organization staff. Finally, without independent learning, another wild guess seems to say that the other two thirds of EATO’s strategy updates and insights would not exist.
EATO’s evaluation process relies mostly on the structure that CEA provides: case studies, a membership overview, and a general report (as well as the brief further funding application). The case studies are a quick and effective summary of what seem to be the most important direct outcomes of EATO’s work. The membership overview also serves as a truly quick tool to share data that builds context. The general report supplies the greater context and reasoning for the entire body of work, and thus, it seems more important than the case studies in evaluating EATO’s work as a whole, especially in terms of understanding how EATO will perform in the future. For example, the general report allows for strategic and contextual clarifications, as given in the later sections of the report where strategies, future plans, and special considerations are the focus.
EATO’s biggest issues mostly came in the form of an unclear structure, unclear strategy and practical day-to-day working concerns.
EATO’s largest and most persistent issue seems to be a lack of clarity in the structure of EATO and, relatedly, an unclear guiding strategy that enables organizers and community members to make more autonomously-driven yet well-coordinated decisions about where best to put resources. We are dealing with this through team-building and establishing EATO as a not-for-profit while simultaneously drafting a narrower and clearer strategy that puts more of our organizer and member efforts in-sync to drive towards a specific outcome while still allowing for the organic growth and work of the wider community to continue.
More specifically, an issue in the past for the EATO community has been an unclear position on whether to direct resources towards work on the structure of the group or towards specific outcomes such as career plan changes. There are always many problems to work on and many opportunities popping up, so it seems like high time for EATO to pursue a narrower and more focused strategy, much like crafting and living by a clearer and more effective business plan.
EATO continues to document and share our mistakes on our website at eatoronto.com/our-mistakes.
For Colin, working on his own became a big issue this year due to a subtle, felt sense of isolation in addition to occasional issues with motivation and engagement, proper breaks, and sunlight when working at home or at libraries. These issues seem to have been dealt with quite well through Colin pairing up with a friend for co-working and then later joining a co-working space. Meanwhile, EATO has ongoing, member-led coworking sessions that ebb and flow in popularity, dependent on scheduling and space (usually libraries). Further, EATO is looking into getting office space in the coming years, though for now, using public spaces and universities works better than just private residences for events and co-working.
Colin’s deepest learnings also address EATO’s biggest issues. Colin would have spent more time planning out how to spend his time, covering the connections between his values and actions: going from a very high-level aggregated-perspective of planning to a very low-level highly-detailed and outcome-oriented planning. This planning hopefully would have led to an insight that came close to the end of the grant period: it seems more effective to take a narrower focus. Thus, future efforts should have a deeper planning cycle.
Underlying this issue of an unclear strategy, for Colin and for EATO, was the fact that Colin likely became too big a fan of the gardening model, where EATO provides resources to try to support a wider variety of activities and projects, resources and systems. Colin had a few focus projects at any given time, but they were too ambiguous. They were things like these: regular events, building EATO’s structure and features, and having one-on-ones. For nearly all of these activities, Colin and EATO community members had a fuzzy but not nearly clear enough idea of outcomes, partly because Colin was worried about the risk of limiting the community’s potential by not supporting a wider variety of promising initiatives. In hindsight, it seems to be the case that the community has been limited moreso by a lack of clarity and than a lack of valuable options. In future, Colin plans to stretch himself less thin and focus on a clearer arrangement of projects, taking more of a business plan strategy for over 80% of his work and thus pursuing more carpentry—executing and iternating on a specific design—while still having a garden on the side.
Objectives and Key Results
- 80% of resources will go towards: One case study per quarter of a career plan change corresponding with a List A, B, C, or similar opportunity—while maintaining the preference ordering of the lists and finding relevant connections that are more applicable to our region when necessary
- 10 career-focused one-on-one meetings per month
- Tracking significant improvement of a one-on-one related tool each quarter, e.g. CRM system, marketing, meeting prep, application form
- Tracking significant improvement of a one-on-one related strategy each quarter, e.g. predicting the trajectory of applications, filtering applicants, marketing, modelling involvement pathways, identifying opportunities
- Evaluating this objective quarterly in brief and yearly in full
- 10% towards: Five focused EA events in Toronto each month—preferring events that are not primarily for the EATO main group so that specialized groups can grow
- 4 support-focused one-on-one meetings per month with event organizers
- Tracking significant improvement of an event related tool each quarter, e.g. meetup, facebook group and page, marketing strategy, newsletter
- Evaluating this objective quarterly in brief and yearly in full
- 10% towards: Improve coordination for people in Toronto interested in effective altruism as measured by developing and maintaining coordination tools, e.g. website, message groups, project directory
- Create and maintain an EATO member directory
- Set up EATO as a not-for-profit corporation
- Take on interns to manage different aspects of and groups within the wider community
- Get expansion funding from non-EA sources to fund interns and other projects
- Set up an actual volunteer program for EATO
- Consider getting EATO office space that the community can use, and write up our decision reasoning
- Evaluating this objective quarterly in brief and yearly in full
- Evaluating EATO overall quarterly in brief and yearly in full
Forecast of Objectives
- 90% sure: EATO will meet its objectives 75% of the time, assessed quarterly, and surpass them by a margin of 25%, 25% of the time in 2020.
- 80% sure: EATO will be registered as a not-for-profit organization before 2021.
- 80% sure: EATO will set up a volunteer program with an application process, at least two active volunteers, and a set of volunteer expectations by 2020/04/04.
- 80% sure: EATO will create a public member directory and get 20 members into it by 2020/06/06.
- 70% sure: EATO’s network will have at least five event organizers who take the lead in organizing at least one EA focused event each quarter by 2020/08/08.
EATO will attempt to track the following metrics to further inform our strategy:
- Number of EATO network groups and projects that are self-sustaining
- Overall Impact-Adjusted Significant Plan Changes
- Overall Interviews for List A, B, C, or similar opportunities
- Estimated value of contributions to EA projects and communities globally through specific cases and through wider coordination projects
Key Uncertainties and Respective Strategies
- How much can one-on-one forecasting and filtering be improved?
- At least 10 hours will go into research and experimentation to answer this question, primarily through finding tools and developing new ones.
- What is the value of each new promising EA opportunity that we find?
- At least 5 hours will go into discovering new opportunities, estimating the value of the opportunities, and tracking whether we helped someone take advantage of the opportunity.
- How do other ways of empowering and enabling event organizers compare with monthly support one-on-ones in terms of time/cost-effectiveness?
- At least 5 hours will go into research and experimentation to answer this question, primarily through finding methods and developing new ones.
One of EATO’s strategic considerations is about short-term vs. long-term tradeoffs, and it would be good to clarify that EATO is in many ways seen by our organizers as an in-progress-structure that will continue to grow and yield value over the years and decades. Over the past year, resources have been put into supporting member projects and building tools and features of the community that broaden access to the community, e.g. our website, more welcoming event descriptions, and project events and templates. The resources put towards these features seemed justified because of the strategies that EATO was operating with respect to at the time. In the future, these more general and miscellaneous community building upgrades will still be an important part of EATO, though they will likely not receive nearly as much of the resource share as they have in the past so that EATO can focus more on a few objectives instead of watering plants more sporadically in a wild garden.
Commentary on CEA’s Proposed Outcomes and Retrospective Grant Criteria
Most 80,000 Hours job board roles are still located in the Bay Area, DC, Oxford, London, and a few other places. They are not evenly distributed around the world, so non-UK and non-US citizens have drastically fewer listed opportunities realistically available to them unless they overcome some fairly large barriers. For Canadians, these barriers are less daunting than for most other people in the world, though they are still daunting enough to slow things down, namely, to require an emmigration process or be limited to remote work. Thus, for countries with fewer accessible opportunities, it seems normal to expect that career plan changes will look a little different in that they will often take more time to manifest, perhaps years longer, and will end up looking different than 80,000 Hours job board roles, while more non-UK and non-US roles gradually find spots on the job boards and criteria lists. Though it seems like it will take years for the amount of full-time positions at EA organizations that are outside of the US and UK to equal those that are in the UK and US today, let’s look forward to a world where there are many EA-aligned organizations in every country.
Colin’s Fit for EA Community Building
Through having the privilege of working on EA community building for about 2 years and being paid to do so for 1.5 years, Colin continues to think that the work and him fit well together. This is due to the feedback he gets from the community, the personal fit that he experiences through maintaining and iterating the portfolio of work, and EA Toronto’s progress to date and growth potential. He sees further opportunities for growth in himself and in his role as a community builder which, for example, might take the form of incorporating and growing EATO into a more focused and strategically legible organization while maintaining the connection and growth of our organic, local network.
Toronto is Canada’s largest city, a well-resourced, caring, and growing place. It has the country’s highest concentrations of population and wealth, its leading university and two other large universities, the headquarters of many multinational corporations, and a caring and relatively well-off citizenry with world-class diversity and global connections.
Talent: Toronto is a magnetic city in a very pleasant country, and there is no better place in Canada to build and grow organizations and corporations, hopefully, a variety of EA organizations in years to come.
Funds: Toronto is the economic capital of Canada where billions of dollars move around each day. (A handy heuristic is that Canada is roughly one tenth the size of the USA in terms of population and economy.) Statistics show that Canadian’s donate about $10 billion yearly in total (compared to $430 billion in the US and £10 billion in the UK).
Policy: Toronto is the capital city of Ontario, Canada’s largest province, and the provincial government resides here. Toronto, as Canada’s largest city, may set examples and standards for Canada as a whole.
Culture: Toronto is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse places in the world, and accordingly, it is one of the world’s most globally connected places whether in terms of culture, family, or economic ties. More specifically, different areas of Toronto have some similarities to different places around the world, a mosaic that is more complex and varied than nearly all other cities, which means that there isn’t one Toronto: there is a mixed downtown core and there are numerous enclaves with global and local ties.
Thank you, deeply, to CEA, our community members, supportive EA community builders around the world, and all the supporters of the EA Toronto community!
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