This is a list of frequently asked questions about EA DC. We’re always excited to chat so if you’d like to talk to use more about any of these or ask a question not listed here please reach out at Info@EffectiveAltruismDC.org or fill out our 1-on-1 meeting form.
Effective altruism (EA) is a philosophical and social movement that advocates “using evidence and reason to figure out how to benefit others as much as possible, and taking action on that basis.” People who pursue the goals of effective altruism are labeled effective altruists. We have a page explaining EA here.
Our mission is to make effective altruist ideas, careers, and people accessible to anyone in the Washington DC area, and to make what’s happening in the EA DC community accessible to the wider EA community. While there are a lot of great EA resources online, we think there’s a large value add for new members in accessing networks of people who have been thinking about and debating EA ideas in DC, and so we aim to provide access to the EA community to anyone who’s interested. We do not expect our members to come away with any specific ideas of how to do the most good, but hope that by engaging in the conversations and debates happening in EA spaces in DC they will refine their thinking about their careers and donations and come away with a more accurate picture of where and how they can do good.
If you are a new member, we want you to know that the primary reason we exist is to help you get the most out of the EA DC network of people and resources. We do not expect any prior background in EA, agreement with any specific ideas associated with EA, or any specific career or personal background. We also do not require or pressure you to make any changes (for example in your career) based on your involvement with EA DC. Feel free to fill out our welcome form if you haven’t yet!
For more information on our purpose you can read our summary of our strategy document.
We think that anyone who has any interest in effective altruism can benefit from the group. Our members have broad career, educational, and personal backgrounds and we strive to maintain it as an inclusive and welcoming space for everyone. As long as you’re interested in engaging with EA ideas in any way we’re excited to have you in the community and can give you any resources and connections that you’re looking for from the group.
Not at all. We don’t expect any agreement with any specific ideas in effective altruism or about the role effective altruist ideas play in your life. Effective altruism is a broad debate about where we can use money, time, and career capital to do the most good. There are no agreed-upon answers. A lot of EAs do tend to agree with some specific ideas, like “factory farming is a big ethical problem” or “advanced AI may pose an existential risk to humanity,” but we do not want you to feel any social obligation to believe these. We agree with Helen Toner’s forum post about EA being a question, not an ideology, and do not want our members to feel any social pressure to take on specific beliefs about how to do the most good.
We ask that our members be open to debate about the major EA cause areas and where we can use money and time to do the most good. Our members have varying perspectives and answers to these questions and strongly value debating them to reach deeper levels of understanding. We value and support any and all critical perspectives on mainstream EA ideas as long as they are expressed and debated in good faith and respectfully by all sides.
EA DC is funded by the Centre for Effective Altruism, which funds similar groups in specific cities and countries around the world to promote effective altruist ideas and a community for EAs in each location.
There have been people in DC interested in effective altruism since the movement began. EA DC as a group was organized on a voluntary basis in 2015. The group received funding from the Centre for Effective Altruism for a part-time organizer and events in 2021, full-time organizers in 2022, and was incorporated as a nonprofit in late 2022.
EA DC is one of the most active effective altruist groups in the world. We have over 1000 members on our newsletter mailing list and networks of professionals working in every major EA cause area in the city. We host many events ranging from monthly cause area meeting groups to general networking events in the DC area.
Not really. As an organization we do not claim to have the answers to specific questions like which specific cause areas are most important or how to have the most impact within those cause areas. There are some general decisions we make following EA ideas, such as making sure all the food we serve is vegan, or not spending too much money on unnecessary luxuries for events.
Yes, it’s here. We are firm about moderating EA DC spaces and it’s extremely important to us that all of our members feel safe and respected. If the code of conduct is violated we take prompt and decisive action.
If you’re on the fence about reporting a bad experience we strongly encourage you to report. Confidentiality is extremely important to us and we will respect any requests to remain anonymous or any other safeguards that you need. There are a few ways you can report a bad experience to us:
There are a lot of great ways to get more involved in EA DC based on what you’re interested in. We think one of the best ways to get involved is talking to other people who have been involved in effective altruism for a while to get a lay of the land, so a big goal for our group is making sure that new members are put in touch with active EAs quickly. You can fill out our welcome form to begin to get involved! We also suggest exploring EA online resources as a way of learning about each cause area quickly. The next response below this one lists resources you can use to explore more.
There are a lot of great resources for learning more about any specific idea or cause area in effective altruism. We have some of our favorites listed below. We think that it can be really helpful to talk to people who have been involved in EA for a while to get more specific recommendations based on your interests, so if you would like to chat with an EA DC organizer feel free to fill out our 1-on-1 form or email us at Info@EffectiveAltruismDC.org.
There are a lot of good books on EA, but the EA DC organizers think these are the best places to start:
You can find a list of other EA groups here!
We’re always really excited to chat with members over Zoom. Whether you have specific questions about EA or EA DC or anything else in particular you’d like to talk about please reach out to us at Info@EffectiveAltruismDC.org, or fill out our 1-on-1 form