Announcing Effective Altruism Grants

I’m announcing a new project from the Centre for Effective Altruism: Effective Altruism Grants. Effective Altruism Grants aims to provide grants of up to £100,000 (~$130,000) to help individuals work on promising projects.

We hope to fund a wide range of effective projects that will directly or indirectly contribute to making the world a better place. We primarily expect to fund individuals who explicitly endorse the principles of effective altruism, broadly construed, but are in principle open to funding projects of any form.

This project is being run by the Centre for Effective Altruism. Individual applicants may receive up to £100,000 (~$130,000). CEA will cap our total funding for the Effective Altruism Grants in 2017 at £500,000 (~$650,000), but will present promising applications that we have not chosen to fund to other significant donors. These include the Effective Altruism Community Fund. This means that the total pool of available funding may be significantly higher.

We are running this project as a way to support the effective altruism community and to allow people to pursue useful projects. The Centre for Effective Altruism will only fund projects that further its charitable objects.[1] However, we also welcome applications that may be of interest to our partners who are also looking to fund promising projects.

Motivation and aims

Effective altruism has attracted many people of outstanding talent and motivation. We believe that providing those people with the resources that they need to realize their potential could be a highly effective use of resources.

Currently, this funding opportunity is relatively neglected within the effective altruism community. There are not many donors directly funding small projects run by individuals. For that reason we believe that funding the very best projects after a thorough application process could be a great use of funds. We want to try out a grants project during 2017. If we feel that we have been able to use money well through this project, we will allocate new funds to it in 2018.

We want to use the grants to increase the diversity of approaches within effective altruism. We believe that untested strategies could yield significant information value for the effective altruism community, and will fund projects accordingly. We hope that the Effective Altruism Grants will also allow people from less privileged backgrounds (and therefore less financial stability) to pursue the highest expected value career paths open to them.

What projects could get funded?

We welcome applications from individuals of any background and hope that applicants will include senior professionals and academics as well as recent graduates. Our hope is to fund a diverse array of projects, both in terms of causes and approaches.

In terms of length and size, we are both looking to give large grants to longer projects (up to £100,000, e.g., over more than a year), and smaller grants to shorter projects, or parts of projects (e.g., £10,000 (~$13,000) over a three-month period). The smaller grants could go to applicants who wish to transition into a more impactful career or who want to get started on a larger project. Grants of any size may be renewed. If you have a project that would require significantly more than £100,000, we still encourage you to apply as we may be able to find you funding from other sources.

Similarly, due to legal restrictions, CEA may not be able to fund certain types of projects. However, if the project seems promising, we may, with your permission, share your application with other individuals who are looking to fund projects in the effective altruism movement.

We welcome applications in the following areas:

  • Writing a book or book proposal

  • Unsalaried fellowships or internships at think tanks or media outlets

  • Studies (e.g., Masters or PhDs)

  • Academic research, e.g., by providing teaching buy-out for professors

  • Independent research

  • High quality writing for blogs or other media outlets

  • Public outreach on effective altruism or effective altruism-related topics (such as prioritization or rationality)

  • Seed-funding for an independent project; e.g. founding a new charity

Some illustrative examples:

  • Write a book proposal on technological solutions to factory farming

  • Take an unpaid internship at a think-tank as a way of transferring into a career in policy

  • Start a blog on some important and understudied future technology

  • Pursue a PhD in economics on how to factor variable-population ethics considerations into cost-benefit analysis

  • Run a local effective altruist group, part-time or full-time

  • Take several months off work in order to volunteer for effective altruist organisations and figure out your next career steps

How the grants work

  • The grants may be paid out by August 15th 2017 at the earliest.

  • The grant’s duration can vary between a month and several years. We expect many of our grants to be short.

  • The grant maximum is £100,000.

  • Grants can be renewed.

  • The Centre for Effective Altruism will not act as your employer. We will not be responsible for the grantees.

  • Funding will be paid out on a quarterly basis, conditional on itemized reports on spending in the last quarter, as well as spending and activity plans for the coming quarter. However, we are consciously taking a ‘[hits-based giving](http://​​​​blog/​​hits-based-giving)’ approach and will not discontinue funding merely because initial results of the project were less promising than was hoped.

  • We welcome requests for funding of expenses, such as tuition fees, travel, buying grantees out of existing contracts etc, as well as living costs. You should provide us with an estimate of your living costs (subject to revision—relevant factors include seniority, location, etc.) Note that we will likely refer applications that request funding for living costs and overheads to our partners, rather than funding them ourselves.

Evaluation criteria

Our evaluation criteria are:

  • Understanding of, and commitment to, the principles of effective altruism. We are looking primarily for people who can show clear evidence that they want to benefit others as effectively as possible.

  • Demonstrated ability and drive. We are looking to fund people who are both highly competent and strongly motivated. In particular, it is important that you are able to bring your plans to completion.

  • Quality of the project plan. We are looking to fund projects which have high expected value, either directly, or through enabling yourself or others to have an impact at a later point. We would prioritize a project which might fail over a safer bet if the former has higher expected value. We also believe that information for the community is an important source of value. For that reason, we look favourably on projects exploring previously untested strategies.

  • Quality of the career plan. We are also looking at the quality of your overall career plan, and how your project fits in with that plan. In particular, we will be looking at how your proposal fits into your overall career plan, because this helps us to assess how committed you are to your proposal as well as your understanding of Effective Altruism. (This criterion may be weighted less heavily for senior applicants.)

In addition, any project funded by CEA must further CEA’s charitable objects.

We are an equal opportunity organization and value diversity. We do not discriminate on the basis of religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability status. Please contact us to discuss adjustments to the application process.

Application process

Applicants should apply through this application form. The deadline for applications is 1 July 2017. Please send any inquiries to

Applications will be blinded to assessors. After an initial screening, the most promising candidates will be invited to interviews in the week of 24th July. These candidates will have three separate short interviews. Applications for smaller grants will other things equal have a proportionately greater chance of success. Assessors will recuse themselves if there is a conflict of interest. We aim to make the final decisions by 1 August.

Any promising projects that do not further CEA’s objects, as well as the most promising rejected applications may, with permission, be presented to other significant effective altruist donors. These donors may at some as yet undecided point in time choose to fund some of those applicants.

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[1]: Our charitable objects are listed in the “Documents” tab of this site.