Fair. I do think the underlying point of “don’t donate all your money to charity right before asking for a bunch of money for your new charity” is still pretty important. If nothing else, it should still mean that you don’t need to pay yourself.
I agree halfway with Raemon, in that I think being able to pay oneself to work on a project is valuable. But I also think it’s important to get strong feedback from others that a project is a good idea before taking it too far, and grant funding is one form of highly reliable feedback. Someone trying to run a project may not know much about the landscape of other independent projects, or how promising their work is by comparison.
It does seem a bit backward to give away money hoping you’ll get others to give it back (and this process has a lot of overhead). A happy medium could be something like “I’ll pay my own living expenses, and I’ll also match every two dollars in grant funding with one dollar of my own”. This lets people be a bit biased toward their own ideas while still getting information from the rest of the EA funding landscape.
Yeah, I think something similar to this is probably best.
I do think it’s often necessary, to get support from others, to initially do some self-funded / volunteer work to demonstrate proof of concept. But it’s probably best to get outside feedback as soon as possible.