The basics

The Open Philanthropy Project’s mission is to give as effectively as we can and share our findings openly so that anyone can build on our work. Through research and grantmaking, we hope to learn how to make philanthropy go especially far in terms of improving lives. Read more about our vision and values, what “open” means to us, our leadership team, and our focus areas.

Previous feature stories on the Open Philanthropy Project

Frequently asked questions

What is the Open Philanthropy Project?

The Open Philanthropy Project is a collaboration between Good Ventures and GiveWell in which we identify outstanding giving opportunities, make grants, follow the results, and publish our findings. The Project is not, itself, an organization.

What is the relationship between the Open Philanthropy Project, Good Ventures and GiveWell?

Good Ventures is a philanthropic foundation whose mission is to help humanity thrive. Good Ventures was created by Dustin Moskovitz (co-founder of Facebook and Asana) and Cari Tuna, who have pledged to give the majority of their wealth to charity. Good Ventures is a family foundation, unlike the Open Philanthropy Project which is a joint venture. GiveWell is a nonprofit that finds outstanding giving opportunities and publishes the full details of its analysis to help donors decide where to give. In 2015, GiveWell tracked more than $110 million in donations to its “top charities” based on its research. The Open Philanthropy Project, previously known as GiveWell Labs, is distinct from GiveWell’s research on “top charities” and uses different criteria. The Open Philanthropy Project is a collaboration between Good Ventures and GiveWell in which we identify outstanding giving opportunities, make grants, follow the results, and publish our findings. The Project is not, itself, an organization. The people working to identify giving opportunities for the Open Philanthropy Project are primarily GiveWell staff and Cari Tuna, President of Good Ventures (with input from expert advisors). Meet our leadership team here. Grant recommendations are typically made to the Open Philanthropy Project fund, a donor advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Support for the Open Philanthropy Project fund comes primarily from Good Ventures, though other donors have contributed as well. Good Ventures and GiveWell share office space. Information is shared relatively freely between the two organizations, so it’s rarely necessary to communicate with us separately about a giving opportunity. More detail on how we work together is available here. Despite our close coordination on research and grantmaking, Good Ventures and GiveWell are separate entities with separate financial and human resources and separate governing bodies. We are in the process of creating an independent organization to house the Open Philanthropy Project’s operations.

Where does the money for the Open Philanthropy Project come from?

Operating expenses for the Open Philanthropy Project are paid by GiveWell, with support from Good Ventures. Grant recommendations are typically made to the Open Philanthropy Project fund, a donor advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Support for the Open Philanthropy Project fund comes primarily from Good Ventures, though other donors have contributed as well. GiveWell is a public charity supported by a number of individual donors and institutions. Good Ventures is GiveWell’s largest institutional supporter. Good Ventures is a philanthropic foundation funded by Dustin Moskovitz (co-founder of Facebook and Asana) and Cari Tuna.

The Open Philanthropy Project is not related to Facebook. Dustin Moskovitz co-founded Facebook in 2004 and left the company in 2008. He and Cari Tuna created Good Ventures in 2011. Good Ventures began working closely with GiveWell on the Open Philanthropy Project, previously known as GiveWell Labs, later that year.

What are the Open Philanthropy Project’s current priorities? How were they chosen?

The Open Philanthropy Project has been setting priorities by:

  • Starting with a large list of possible focus areas.
  • Narrowing the field through brief investigations, which aim to get a basic sense of how much good we could accomplish in an area and how much attention the area already receives. (All else equal, we prefer to work on important, tractable issues that aren’t receiving enough attention from others.)
  • Investigating the most promising-seeming areas more deeply, before setting priorities based on our findings.
  • Continuing to adjust our priorities as new information comes in.

To date, we have set priorities related to improving U.S. Policy and reducing global catastrophic risks. We have also begun to fund work on the history of philanthropy. We plan to set priorities related to supporting science and innovation and improving global health and development at a later time. A list of our current priorities is available here. More on our process is here.

Does the Open Philanthropy Project have a geographic focus?

We believe that all lives have equal intrinsic value, regardless of an individual’s place of birth or residence. Therefore, we seek to accomplish as much good as possible globally. We have no general geographic focus, though we sometimes narrow our geographic scope when working on certain issues, for pragmatic reasons. (For example, so far our policy-related work has focused on the United States, where our networks and context are strongest.)

How does the Open Philanthropy Project decide which organizations to support?

We start by choosing focus areas, via the process described above. Then we seek out giving opportunities in these areas and evaluate them on a case-by-case basis. For some grants, we provide a public writeup describing the grant and the reasoning behind it. A list of our grants is available here.

Does the Open Philanthropy Project identify with a particular political point of view?

We seek to do as much good as possible, and sometimes this means taking a particular point of view on a policy issue. We are more likely to be involved in issues where we have higher confidence in our views.

Do multiple donors participate in the Open Philanthropy Project?

Yes. Good Ventures is currently the primary funder of Open Philanthropy Project grants, but we also work to interest other funders in our recommendations and hope to eventually influence a large number of major donors. In addition to Good Ventures, we currently have a Co-funding Partnership with Kaitlyn Trigger and Mike Krieger, in which they support the Open Philanthropy Project’s grants and operations.