Charity people or science people?
We attended many different events, and they can be broken down into 4 categories:
- Events focused on science and charity
- Events focused on science and analytical topics
- Events focused on charity
- Other events
Initial interest key or slow buildup of interest?
One thing that we were unsure about before networking was how big a factor initial interest would be. GiveWell has mentioned in past blog posts that people either seemed to really like GiveWell right away or else tended to not be interested in it. We found this trend to be true as well. Most of the people who liked the idea of effective giving liked it right away with very little explanation (e.g. under 5 minutes), and people from whom the idea did not click tended not to change their minds (even after fairly extensive conversations).
More interactive events vs less interactive events?
A huge factor in how many conversations about effective giving we had was simply how ‘social’ the event was. We found that if the event was not explicitly social we ended up having significantly fewer conversations. Networking events were the best, followed by social events such as dinners, potlucks, hikes and pub nights. Then there was a huge drop off in the number of charity-related conversations that we had at lectures, conferences, movie nights and anything else at which it was possible to start a conversation but not necessary.
Are business cards useful, or do you have to follow up personally?
We do have business cards, but in hindsight did not find them very useful. We found that even if someone was quite interested in having another conversation they would almost never follow up unless it was prompted by us. On the other hand, collecting other people's business cards/facebook/email was extremely useful.
Can you predict which events will be productive beforehand?
We found that when we started going to events it was hard for us to tell how many interested people we would find, but after doing it for a fairly short time (2 months, 20 meetups) we were able to very accurately predict events where we would find a lot of people interested in effective giving.
What I would recommend to people interested in talking about and spreading the idea of effective giving is:
- Go to meetup.com and find a local skeptics group (skeptics love being skeptical of charities and we have found this to be true in Vancouver, Swtizerland and Chicago)
- Attend a social meetup (dinner or pub night), meet as many people as you can, and bring up effective giving when you get a chance. Try to get the contact information for the most interested people and the people you get along with.
- Have a follow up coffee or drink to talk more about interesting topics such as charity and skeptical giving.
We would guess that this kind of approach would yield good results when applied by people who are interested in talking about evidence based giving and effective charities.