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 identifies outstanding giving opportunities, makes grants, follows the results, and publishes our findings. Our main funders are Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook and Asana. Meet our staff here.

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

Prior to becoming an independent organization in June 2017, the Open Philanthropy Project was operated as a partnership between Cari and Dustin’s foundation, Good Ventures, and the charity evaluator GiveWell.

GiveWell was founded in 2007 by Elie Hassenfeld and Holden Karnofsky, who had been trying to donate as effectively as possible. They aimed to help people facing a similar situation to their own: interested in giving to charity, short on time for researching their options, and looking for highly evidence-backed charities to support.

Good Ventures was founded in 2011 by Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz. They were looking to give their fortune away in their lifetimes, and as effectively as possible, in order to help humanity thrive. Cari took the role of President, and spent her first year speaking with a broad range of people in search of advice.

The two organizations found that they shared a great deal in terms of their vision and values, and came to collaborate closely. The partnership adopted the Open Philanthropy Project name in 2014, and became an independent organization in 2017.

The Open Philanthropy Project is now structured as a limited liability corporation (LLC) and is governed by a Board of Managers currently consisting of Cari Tuna, Dustin Moskovitz, Elie Hassenfeld, Alexander Berger, and Holden Karnofsky.

The Open Philanthropy Project LLC employs staff but it does not regularly make grants to other organizations. We typically recommend grants 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 Cari and Dustin, though historically other donors have contributed as well. In some cases, the Open Philanthropy Project makes grant recommendations directly to Good Ventures, the Open Philanthropy Action Fund (a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization), or to other entities.

The Open Philanthropy Project, Good Ventures, and GiveWell share office space, but are separate entities with separate financial and human resources and separate governing bodies. Currently, Good Ventures does not have any employees of its own. Instead, it largely relies on the research and recommendations of Open Philanthropy Project staff. The Open Philanthropy Project remains an independent organization from Good Ventures, partly because we would eventually like to play a similar advisory role for other highly aligned major donors.

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

The operating expenses of the Open Philanthropy Project LLC, which employs staff but does not regularly make grants to other organizations, are currently funded by Dustin Moskovitz and Cari Tuna. We typically recommend grants 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 Cari and Dustin, though historically other donors have contributed as well. In some cases, the Open Philanthropy Project makes grant recommendations directly to Good Ventures, the Open Philanthropy Action Fund (a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization), or to other entities.

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. In 2017, the Open Philanthropy Project became a distinct legal entity, with Dustin and Cari serving on its Board of Managers.

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, reducing global catastrophic risks, and scientific research. We have also begun to fund work on the history of philanthropy. We also support some giving opportunities in the area of global health and development. 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 largely 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.

Why is the Open Philanthropy Project structured as an LLC?

Although we chiefly recommend grants to 501(c)(3) organizations, we are in principle agnostic about a giving opportunity’s tax status. We believe the flexibility associated with being an LLC enables us to maximize our impact, and thus outweighs the foregone tax benefit we would have had as a private foundation. We discussed this in more depth in our blog post announcing the launch of the Open Philanthropy Project as an independent organization.