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?

The Open Philanthropy Project was originally incubated as a partnership between Cari and Dustin’s foundation, Good Ventures, and 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 began operating independently in 2017.

The Open Philanthropy Project is made up of several related organizations that research potential focus areas, investigate giving opportunities, make grants and investments, and share what we learn.

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, we make grants directly from the Open Philanthropy Project 501(c)(3) or make recommendations to Good Ventures, the Open Philanthropy Action Fund (a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization), or to other entities, including some that are not primarily funded or controlled by Dustin or Cari. Although the majority of our funding recommendations are directed to 501(c)(3) organizations, we also recommend contributions to other kinds of organizations when we believe that the programmatic benefits justify them.

Staff who research potential focus areas or advance academic or scientific research or education are typically employed by the Open Philanthropy Project 501(c)(3), a nonprofit organization that primarily conducts research. Staff who investigate and recommend non-research grants or investments, distribute funds to grantees, evaluate our impact, and share our learning are typically employed by the Open Philanthropy Project LLC. Good Ventures does not currently have any employees of its own and instead largely relies on the research and recommendations of staff employed by the Open Philanthropy Project. The Open Philanthropy Project remains independent from Good Ventures, partly because we would eventually like to play a similar advisory role for other highly aligned major donors.

The Open Philanthropy Project 501(c)(3) is governed by a Board of Directors currently consisting of Dustin Moskovitz (Chair), Cari Tuna, Divesh Makan, Elie Hassenfeld, Holden Karnofsky, and Alexander Berger.

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

The operating expenses of the Open Philanthropy Project 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, we make grants directly from the Open Philanthropy Project 501(c)(3) or make recommendations to Good Ventures, the Open Philanthropy Action Fund (a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization), or to other entities, including some that are not primarily funded or controlled by Dustin or Cari.

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 began operating independently.

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 does the Open Philanthropy Project include 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 an LLC enables us to maximize our impact, and thus outweighs the foregone tax benefit we would have had as a private foundation, or if we made all of our grants from the Open Philanthropy Project 501(c)(3). We discussed this in more depth in our blog post announcing the independent operation of the Open Philanthropy Project.