In this post, we’ll report on our activities in 2023, outline our plans for 2024, and show our room for funding.
Update 2. January 2024
Our donation gap is now closed, thanks to individual donations. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed!
EA Germany (EAD) acts as an umbrella organisation for the German EA community, the third largest national community and biggest in continental Europe, according to the 2022 EA survey.
The non-profit transitioned from volunteer-run to having a five-person team (4 FTEs) that focused in the first full year on talent development, community building support, and general community support. EAD ran successful programs like the EAGxBerlin, an intro program, and community builder retreats while also offering an employer of record service and fiscal sponsorship. In total, more than 1,000 people joined events and programs, while 4,000 received the monthly newsletter. We tried out five new programs in a hits-based approach and will continue with two of these.
For 2024, we refined our Theory of Change and plan to target people interested in global catastrophic risks (GCR) and professionals who could make direct career changes in addition to EA-interested people and community builders. We aim to expand into AI safety field building, running targeted programs for those with specialised skills with programs such as professional AI safety outreach or creating an AI safety website. We plan to test additional new programs, including establishing a virtual Germany-focused EA group, proactively recommending job opportunities, running new volunteer programs, a policy program, and starting media outreach to engage different target groups.
We currently face a funding gap of €37,000 and seek donations to fill this gap.
About EA Germany (EAD)
We are a registered non-profit organisation with a team of five people (4 FTE), and are currently funded by grants from CEA (Community Builder Grants program) and Open Philanthropy Effective Altruism Community Growth (Global Health and Wellbeing) via a regranting from Effektiv Spenden. A six-member board provides oversight and advice.
We have >100 members but act as an umbrella organisation for the whole German EA community, including people in and from Germany interested in the ideas of EA.
There are 27 active local groups with 5-50 active members each (the biggest according to the last EA Survey being Berlin, Munich and Aachen). In total, >300 people are regularly active in local groups.
Based on the 2022 EA survey, Germany was the 3rd largest national EA community and the biggest in continental Europe and had as many respondents as the next four countries by size (Netherlands, Switzerland, France, and Norway) combined.
Impact Report 2023
In 2023, we spent most of our time on talent development, community building support, general community support, and the setup of EAD. In addition, we explored some new programs.
Core Activities: Finding and Retaining Members
To develop talents, we guided people through a funnel from
- Communications (600 monthly users on the website, 3,900 subscribers of the monthly newsletter, >450 EAD Slack users),
- the intro program (100 applications each for two iterations, 60 successful participants in summer, winter program only starting now) and a following
- weekend-retreat (“EAD retreat”, four retreats, 200 participants in total),
- the EAGxBerlin (550 participants)
to more impactful actions.
To guide people indirectly to impactful action, we supported community builders in Germany via
- two retreats (60 participants in total),
- monthly calls for all organisers (~15 participants each),
- 1-1s (at least 2/year, we talked with >50 organisers/teams of 29 groups), and
- resources like presentations, templates (used by ~50 % of groups).
We also support the community overall with
- an employer of record service (hired 19 grantees of international EA-aligned organisations in Germany),
- fiscal sponsorship for local groups and individual projects,
- the introduction of a community health contact point (12 cases from July to October), and
- acting as a central contact point (several hundred meaningful conversations, 179 meetings with more experienced community members we now introduce people to).
EAD transitioned from a volunteer-run organisation to having 4 FTEs staff and also increased revenues by three orders of magnitude in the last year, which needed time building up the organisation professionally by, e.g., onboarding new team members, setting up an accounting system and a CRM system as well as a leadership structure, e.g., with weekly team meetings and 1-1s.
Explorations: Two Successful Programs
We use the lean startup methodology as a basis for developing and testing new programs. After running a program once and assessing its impact, we decide to stop, continue, or modify it.
We tried two programs we plan to continue:
- A 5-week online career program helping people take their next steps, such as applying for internships or jobs in an impactful career, with 21 participants and four facilitators. Positive participant feedback, the program's cost-effectiveness, and the deep engagement of participants in career planning are reasons to continue the program. It also serves as a strategic tool to identify and support promising individuals within the EA community, aligning with the goal of nurturing talent for high-impact areas.
- General 1-1s offering 30-minute calls with members of the EAD team to better connect people with resources and people in the community. We think 18 out of 30 participants were open to engaging more deeply with EA topics, and we were able to provide valuable outcomes, including providing inspiration, expanding networks, and enhancing EA knowledge. The program is cost-effective, scalable, and allows for identifying high-potential individuals for targeted support. It has the potential for expansion in scale, leveraging standardised processes and the outreach funnel from the website through newsletter sign-ups and 1-1 bookings.
We tried three programs we do not plan to continue:
- Career 1-1s guiding people to more impactful careers in prepared 1-1 calls/conversations. The program saw about 2-3 applicants per month. It's being discontinued due to minimal impact, evidenced by no survey responses two months after calls and substantial overlap with other services like 80k and Probably Good. The limited value it offered could be replicated through general 1-1 calls with potential follow-ups.
- A Career mentoring program for helping people transition into a more impactful career by matching them with more experienced mentors from/in Germany. 13 mentees and nine mentors applied. Due to inefficient mentor-mentee pairings, with only 1-2 mentees finding meaningful mentorships out of 10 matches, the 5-11 hours spent by the EAD team per successful mentee pairing seem unjustified.
- A Members retreat for EAD members to conduct the general assembly, start projects and create better connections between members. Attracting 22 participants and starting 12 projects, we do not plan to continue the program as most projects were not actively pursued, and the hybrid General Assembly format was costly without significant added value. Future retreats might specifically target individuals open to new projects or have strong past engagement.
Through the EA Germany intro programme, I started to think seriously about other cause areas for the first time, namely AI gov and EA movement building. The EA retreat in January gave me the chance to talk directly to people doing AI gov for the first time, and that provided even more relevant information. After that, I made contact with other people via referrals and the EA Germany Slack to get more information about job opportunities and personal fit requirements. At EAGx [Berlin], I also arranged 1v1s with people from all three cause areas that might suit me (climate, AI gov, EA movement building) to get even more perspectives and information.
Janis Hecker organises the EA Politics Group in Berlin, has initiated projects to integrate EA topics into German gifted and talented organisations and has changed his career plan according to EA principles.
The existence of EAD has greatly strengthened my motivation over the two semesters in which I have organised the group. Especially the in-person events (CB retreats, EAGx, ...), 1on1 talks/calls with you and regular community builder calls were crucial.
EA Germany gave me the idea to apply for the Open Philanthropy Organiser Fellowship in spring 2023. As a result, I was able to replace my part-time job with CB work in the summer semester and was also very involved through this fellowship.
Without the help of EA Germany, I would probably have been much less motivated and structured. The local group in Heidelberg would most likely have been significantly less active without the structural support of EAD. The organisation of the Heidelberg group's retreat in August would have been significantly more work without EAD's support (resources, templates, insurance). EAD encouraged me to organise the retreat-WE for Heidelberg.
Moritz Pfau started a highly active EA group in Heidelberg, with Germany's third-ranked university renowned for its prestigious medical program, and successfully handed over leadership upon moving to Berlin. He is now co-organizing Berlin's new GWWC group and is pursuing a career guided by EA principles.
[Team lead at EAGxBerlin] was my first job where I had responsibility for a team. The positive feedback from the conference really motivated me to stay in Operations. I would have applied even without the EAGx experience, but I doubt that I would have been accepted. It was clearly my most "impressive" project to date, with visible responsibility. The other retreat organisation experiences were nowhere near as detailed in their planning. As EAGx Team Lead, I was able to really prove myself in a professional context for the first time, and this gave me something like a business card that emphasises my skills. It's been helpful to have such great support from Patrick when I started working as EAGx Team Lead in April.
Carolin Basilowski started as an operations associate at Training for Good in November 2023
Due to my academic background, I can write research proposals and think about research projects, but I have no experience of how such projects have to be handled administratively. This uncertainty has prevented me from doing independent research in the past because I couldn't see the effort involved, and I didn't have the time to acquire the necessary knowledge. Through the EOR [employer of record] programme, it was clear that there was a way to solve the administrative part if I were to get a grant, which massively lowered the perceived barrier to submitting an application. I don't know if I would have been prepared to go down this route without the EOR programme, as the unknown effort involved in handling such a project put me off.
Thanks to the EOR programme, I can concentrate on my research. This applies both to the direct support and the knowledge that I am not overlooking anything and that I am not unintentionally breaking any rules. I assume that the support from the EOR programme has saved me a month of working time in total, as I assume that I would have needed at least that much time to familiarise myself and take care of my health insurance and taxes.
I can see myself continuing to research AI Alignment independently as the experience so far has been very positive.
Fabian Schimpf has quit his job to work on AI Alignment on a grant from the Long Term Future Fund.
Plan for 2024
Theory of Change
Situation Analysis: Focus on Career Changes
More people are needed to help solve the most important global problems.
For this, people need to know that there is an opportunity to help, and they need the knowledge and support to align their future careers in this direction. At EAD, we can support people on this path in and from Germany with information, training, networking and support services.
As Effektiv Spenden is active in the field of effective donations from small-scale donors to high-networth individuals in Germany, we see our advantage mainly in helping people get into more impactful careers. For these, we broadly see the top skills and high-impact career paths 80,000 hours has identified as good guidance. We think that career impact has a heavy-tailed distribution, with most of the impact EAD will support coming from a few individuals.
With the possibility of transformative AI developing soon, we see the urgency in recruiting experienced professionals for AI alignment. Simultaneously, we recognise the importance of engaging students and early-career individuals in cause prioritisation, especially under scenarios of longer AI development timelines or less neglectedness.
Targeting People Interested in EA and GCR
EAD currently concentrates on guiding EA-inclined individuals to switch to high-impact careers. This includes aiding local EA community builders to enhance their group's impact and giving EA organisation grantees operational support.
In 2024, we want to additionally help professionals directly transition to impactful roles and assist those interested in reducing Global Catastrophic Risks (GCR) in altering their career paths or starting GCR-focused groups. In this approach, we will not rely on the EA brand.
We will focus on five target groups, guiding them to having an impact (as in long-term change):
- EA-inclined individuals
Individuals aged ~18-40, with (potential) interest in EA, possessing a good track record and ambition.
Impact: Altered career paths to fit their strengths and cause prioritisation; contribute through direct work or donations.
- GCR-focused individuals
Motivated for GCR work, aged ~18-40, with potential but not ready for top career paths yet.
Impact: They shifted their careers/career plans to align with the problem and personal fit; contributed through direct work or donations.
Aged ~25-55, capable of immediately shifting to top careers.
Impact: Employed in roles directly addressing significant global issues.
- Community Builders
Engaged in EA or GCR, organising groups with solid EA/GCR understanding and leadership skills.
Impact: Assist group members in contributing through direct work or donations.
People funded by EA-aligned organisations.
Impact: Engaged in direct work contributing to problem solutions.
Activities Guiding People From Interest to Action
Based on engagement level, we can divide most of our programs (existing ones in bold) into two target groups:
Programs for all target groups:
- Central Contact Point
- Community Health
Programs only for professionals:
- Proactively contact members with (job) opportunities
Expanding Into AI Safety Field Building
EAD is looking at expanding into AI safety (AIS) field building. Many members from the German EA community now work in AI safety roles or pursue related PhDs, however, there's a gap in guiding potential AI safety contributors within Germany into and within the field. EAD plans to build this field by collaborating with experts and running AIS-labelled programs, targeting those with specialised skills. AI Safety is seen as distinct from effective altruism, with an outreach strategy focused on the field rather than EA frameworks. EAD's role varies across initiatives, from organising to providing support, and includes seeking expert feedback. Uncertainties in this area include the rapidly evolving AI risk landscape, the potential impact of individuals joining AI safety organisations, and the effects of associating with the EA brand.
New Programs to Build and Test
Programs we will test before deciding if to continue (see Explorations).
Germany-Wide Online Group
Establishing a virtual group for EAs in Germany as more than 120 respondents in the last EA survey in Germany are not part of a local group (more than all survey respondents from the Netherlands, the next biggest country). The goal is to foster a network, enhance knowledge on EA topics, follow EA values, and improve retention. The group will offer regular virtual meetups in German and English, providing connections in the same culture, potential for in-person meetings, and a manageable group size for better personal connections. The plan involves a 6-month trial with volunteers, seeking to attract participants and judging success based on attendance, engagement levels, and cost-effectiveness compared to other interventions.
Proactively Contact Members With (Job) Opportunities
The EAD team plans weekly meetings to discuss and recommend high-impact job and training opportunities to suitable candidates within their German network. The program will run over three months and has a target of at least 15 promising candidates applying for recommended positions. We expect improved efficiency and quality in candidate matching over time.
Reach EA-Inclined Individuals via Google Ads
Using the free Google Ad Grants budget of $10,000/month, we plan to reach EA-inclined individuals with a volunteer expert handling setup and maintenance. The program aims to increase EA knowledge and is deemed successful if at least 20 people per month sign up for the EAD newsletter via Google Ads.
The EAD team plans to compile a list of project ideas contributed by the community for EA-inclined individuals to apply to, focusing on practical skill development and alignment with EA values. The program involves an initial setup and regular monthly check-ins and aims to have twelve volunteers participate. The cost is expected to be slightly higher than a career program but will offer more focused, practical experience. We consider this program successful if at least ten participants actively engaged or completed projects after six months, with over 50% taking meaningful next steps.
AI Safety Professional Outreach
The program aims to identify and reach out to professionals in German universities and companies with the potential for direct hire in AI Safety roles, focusing on information security experts, ML PhD students, and senior corporate employees. The program involves researching potential contacts, providing support and training for presentations by experts from the community, and evaluating the process. The broader aim is to form networks for future talent recommendations and research project initiations.
AI Safety Website & Newsletter
The goal is to create a German-language website, not EA branded, featuring translated AI Safety content like the 80k guide to AIS or the Most Important Century series and promoting a newsletter for further engagement. The target audience includes professionals and individuals interested in global catastrophic risks, with the website serving as a tool for knowledge dissemination, network expansion, and encouragement to apply to training and programs. We consider this program successful if at least five promising individuals engaged through the website, leading to productive one-on-one interactions and introductions to relevant opportunities.
AI Safety Fundamentals
The AI Safety Fundamentals program, offered in Germany and not EA-branded, targets EA-inclined individuals and those interested in global catastrophic risks. The course will focus on local groups near key universities, leveraging volunteer facilitation for scalability while maintaining a selective approach to attract the most promising participants. The primary goal is to identify individuals capable of advancing in technical AI Safety or AI governance. We aim for at least 15 participants to complete the course, a likelihood-to-recommend score above eight, and to maintain costs at or below the EA Intro Program level.
Cause Area Specific Events
EAD plans to organise events and retreats, focusing on global catastrophic risks (GCR) and targeting EA-inclined individuals and professionals, with content from experts and operational support from the EAD team. The initiative seeks to fill the gap left by successful but (at the time of writing) discontinued events like the AI Safety Europe retreat and aims to foster a network, encourage promising output, and enhance retention among participants. Success criteria include initiating at least one event with EA-aligned funding, attracting at least 20 participants from the GCR-specific target group, and maintaining cost efficiency, focusing on impactful engagement with a few highly promising individuals.
A training initiative for those interested in policy roles in Germany or the EU, targeting EA-inclined individuals and individuals focused on global catastrophic risks (GCR). It aims to provide a more structured support system beyond written materials and one-on-one calls, utilising resources and expert speakers to help participants explore their potential in policy roles. The program is planned for 4-6 weeks with 15 participants. Success will be assessed by at least five participants completing the program who show a high likelihood of transitioning into policy work.
Reach EA-Inclined Individuals via Media Outreach
The outreach campaign aims to enhance EA knowledge among EA-inclined individuals through a comprehensive media strategy involving external consultants and significant preparatory work. The strategy includes target group analysis, narrative development, key message ideation, and media training. We consider this program successful if we have created a media strategy with smart goals. The program is expected to be scalable and potentially introduce EA to a broader audience in Germany.
Find Local Opportunities via Delphi Process
The program seeks to uncover impactful local opportunities in Germany by employing the Delphi method and involving cause area experts. Targeting professionals and EA-inclined individuals, the process aims to discover potential job opportunities and partnerships that could lead to impactful changes in research, funding agendas, and increased outreach. The method includes consulting experts to identify and rate local organisations and projects and communicating the relevant opportunities through newsletters and other channels.
The CEA Community Builder Grant program (CBG) has reduced its funding for EAD for 2024 by 40% compared to 2023. We will implement various cost-saving measures for 2024 but rely on donations to fund the remaining gap. We have already received €59,000 in donations, leaving a remaining gap of €37,000.
Closing the funding gap would enable us not only to run new exploratory programs but also to scale successful programs and seize new opportunities as they come up through the programs.
With the size of Germany, the strategic position of the country in the European political landscape, and the EA community being the third largest worldwide, EAD has the potential to pioneer programs that can be adopted and scaled internationally.
If you are considering donating to building the EA community, EAD is one of several organisations with funding gaps, such as the EA Infrastructure Fund, CEA, Giving What We Can, EA Poland, High Impact Medicine or CEEALAR that posted on the forum’s Marginal Funding Week.