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://​​www.open­philan­thropy.org/​​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 ea­grants@cen­tre­fore­ffec­tivealtru­ism.org.

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.

* * *

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