(Funding manager of the EA Meta Fund here)
We have run an application round for our last distribution for the first time. I conducted the very initial investigation which I communicated to the committee. Previous grantees came all through our personal network.
Things we learnt during our application round:
i) We got significantly fewer applications than we expected and would have been able to spend more time vetting projects. This was not a bottleneck. After some investigation through personal outreach I have the impression there are not many projects being started in the Meta space (this is different for other funding spaces).
ii) We were able to fund a decent fraction of the applications we received (25%?). For about half of the applications I was reasonably confident that they did not meet the bar so I did not investigate further. The remaining quarter felt borderline to me, I often still investigated but the results confirmed my initial impression.
My current impression for the Meta space is that we are not vetting constrained, but more mentoring/pro-active outreach constrained. One thing we want to do in the future is to run a request for proposals process.