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EAGxNordics 2019 was an Effective Altruism Global x conference in Stockholm co-organised by EA Sweden and EA Norway the first weekend of April 2019.

This post is written by Gabriella Overödder at EA Sweden (EAS) and Jørgen Ringvold Ljønes at EA Norway (EAN), based on the postmortem report written by Ona Grinderud Nordbø, organiser group lead at EAGx Nordics 2019. The offices at EAS and EAN are very thankful for the excellent work by the event organiser group: Ona, Denise and Emil. You have been professional, ambitious and a joy to work with! Thank you!

EAGxNordics 2019 at a glance

  • Venue: Nymble, a venue at KTH - Royal Institute of Technology campus, Stockholm
  • Date: Friday April 5th to Sunday 7th 2019
  • Conference theme: “Doing good better”. Emphasis on engaging participants to take action.
  • Program: 16 talks, 9 workshops, 11 meet-ups and other sessions plus office hours
  • ~220 people in total at the conference, including speakers, organisers and volunteers.
    • 165 sold tickets, ~$13,300 ticket revenue
  • ~$33,200 USD in total project income ~$35,750 USD in total project expenses.
    • Deficit covered by EA Sweden and EA Norway.
    • Main budget posts: More tickets sold than expected and low venue rent, yet unusually high core team lead expenses.
  • Core organiser team spent about 400 hours organising the conference.
    • The ~150 hours spent by EAS and EAN other staff plus any CEA staff time and volunteers is not included.
  • Scored 45 on the Net Promoter Score index from the post-conference survey.
  • EAS and EAN consider the conference a success on the basis of the reported participant satisfaction and core team engagement, but a failure on the basis of our separate goals of engaging and “activating” new EAs in our communities.
    • We are not planning another EAGxNordics in 2020 but will consider organising one in at a later time.
  • Post note on timeline: Started the process in late summer and sent the application to host EAGx to CEA on Nov 7th, after internal considerations. Approved Dec 23rd, and organising began at full capacity. This left 4 months for organising the conference.
    • We recommend applying to CEA earlier, in case the application process is delayed. Organising in 4 months is possible, but more stressful than necessary and leaves you unnecessarily vulnerable to obstacles.

The full postmortem report is 14 pages with links to our goal onepager, RACI-matrix and further 15 pages of survey results and analysis, and is written with future EAGx organisers in mind. If you are considering to host an EAGx, or a similar event, or you are already planning one and think it might be helpful to read more details about our conference, we encourage you to read the full report.

-> Link to full postmortem

At a glance: Table of contents of the full report

  1. Planning process
    • Early phase
    • Recruiting core team and volunteers
    • Active planning
  2. Team structure
    • Core team
    • Second tier volunteers
  3. Tools
    • Asana - project management
    • Ti.to - ticketing and registration
    • Bizzabo (only for online agenda)
  4. Venue
    • Catering
    • Audiovisual
  5. Program and content
    • Reception and speed friending
    • Talks, workshops and meet-ups
    • Speaker selection
    • Organised dinners for attendees
    • Content contributor dinner
    • Evaluation of the program
  6. Branding and signage
  7. Conference execution
    • Logistics and volunteers
  8. Evaluation

Key results and conclusion

The complete set of results, analysis and discussion is available in the full postmortem report.

In addition to CEAs standard post-conference survey which they send out at every EAGs and EAGx’es, we sent a pre-survey to a random sample of 50 attendees before the conference and a separate one-question survey with the same question as the pre-survey three weeks after the conference. In addition to informal feedback from attendees, speakers, volunteers and CEA as well as our own experience, these sources constitute foundation of evaluating the conference.

Overarching results and evaluation

EAS and EAN wanted to increase engagement and valuable actions of inclusion in the movement. We failed to achieve this goals, but there are important nuances with the results. An EAGx conference seem not to be very influential on attendees views and plans, even if the attendees are happy with the event overall. We believe the main reason we failed at getting more community members to take significant action was that those who are EA supporters and fairly knowledgeable, but aren’t engaging in a significant way, they did not attend. Our promotion of the conference failed at recruiting many members from this segment. See more in-depth overview and discussion of results and outcomes in our survey results report.

Those who did attend were generally satisfied with the conference and found it valuable for three main reasons:

  1. Meeting up with EAs and other likeminded people, as part of a community
  2. Networking and new connections, primarily through one-on-one conversations
  3. Listening to great talks

Lastly we had a goal of improving the engagement and plans of our core team. This we feel we achieved satisfactory, as evaluated through individual conversations.

Key takeaways from the operational side of the conference:

The conference made a small, but significant financial loss even though we sold more tickets than expected. We are unsure about the transferability of our numbers to other organisers, and we encourage you to look at several previous EAGx budgets and financial statements and adjust for local cost levels and unusually high or low expense items. More details available in the full report.


Organising EAGxNordics 2019 has been a challenging, exciting and educational experience. We are happy we did it, even though we didn’t manage to reach our goals. Based on an overall consideration, we have decided not to apply for running an EAGxNordics 2020. Any plans beyond this are not decided, and we would need to reconsider in about a year.

Do you have any input or questions of public interest, please comment below. If it is of more narrow interests, or you are reading this post more than a month after it was posted, feel free to email us at post@effektivaltruisme.no and we’ll look into your inquiry as best we can. We are especially open to helping other EAs considering or organising an EAGx conference.

Post note on timeline

During the summer and fall of 2018 EA Sweden, EA Norway and EAs from Denmark, Finland and Estonia started talking about organising an EAGx conference in the nordic countries. EAS and EAN took the lead on the project since they have relevant experience, available human resources and have been collaborating closely for a number of years.

EAS and EAN notified CEA early in the fall that we strongly considered to apply for hosting an EAGx sometime during the first half of 2019. After an internal process of estimating available and required resources, setting goals and considering alternatives, we officially applied to CEA with the necessary paperwork November 7th, a bit later than we initially expected. We also recruited an organising committee, hereon referred to as the core team, consisting of three people which bore the main load of the conference, alongside the community builders at the EAS and EAN offices. December 23rd, one and a half months after applying, our application was approved by CEA, which included permission to use the EAGx brand, support from the CEA team, access to resources from previous conferences and funding.

We highlight this timeline to show others that consider organising an EAGx or similar events that it is important to start early. Even if the initial planning and applications don’t require a lot of hours, surprisingly much “calendar time” may pass as you are awaiting response, feedback or approval from other stakeholders. In this phase you should also think carefully about things like date, location, core team, conference theme and goals and if a conference really is your best alternative to reach these goals. These decisions are crucial and will be hard to reverse. Decisions regarding date, core team and location are highly time sensitive and are important to make early on.

Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

I'm sad because I really enjoyed EAGx nordics :). In my view the main benefits of conferences are the networks and idea-sex that come out of them, and I think it did a great job at both of those. I'm curious if you think the conference "made back its' money" in terms of value to participants, which is seperate from the question of counterfactual value you pose here.

Hmm, I find this a surprising result, even though it seems roughly in line with the outcomes of EAGxNetherlands 2018.

I really hope EAGx conferences will continue to be organized (in Europe and elsewhere), perhaps in an improved form. (Fewer talks, more workshops maybe? More coaching?) I am afraid these events will be cancelled when impact is i) hard to see directly, and ii) heavily skewed. For example, few people made big changes after EAGxNetherlands, but the seed was planted for the Happier Lives Institute, which might not have formed otherwise.

It seems to me like you and Halffull (previous comment) puts more weight on the goals we didn't achieve than was our intention with this report. I would like to note that we did not conclude the conference to be a failure and that the results are more nuanced.

It is true that we mostly failed at reaching the specific goals of engaging "inactive" EAs with the conference as we defined it. But the results report also show that there was a 10 percentage points increase in interests in applying for an EA Job and also an increase in interest of being responsible for an EA project.

In addition to these results being more nuanced than concluding with "EAGxNordics19 was a failure", on more traditional conference engagement targets we did quite well. An NPS of 45 is very good, 70% said the conference influenced their plans and 85% of the attendees found at least some interactions valuable. 92% of the respondents reported that the conference keeps them motivated to do good and 88% feel like they are part of a community because of the conference.

Because of this, we do not think our evaluation of EAGxNordics to be a case against running EAGx-conferences. If anything, our strongest take away for later EAGxs is that is it hard to use the conference as a tool for engaging "inactive" community members, and if you are aiming to to that, intensive, targeted outreach is needed to get them to participate in the first place.

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