Many of our grant investigators have deep experience and strong connections in their fields, and they occasionally know potential grantees personally. We believe ruling out potential grants in which a personal connection exists would force us to pass over some of our best chances at impact.
Instead, to mitigate risk of bias, grant investigators are required to disclose potentially relevant relationships internally as part of the grant approval process. If a grant investigator is unsure if a relationship is potentially relevant, they are strongly encouraged to err on the side of openness with decisionmakers, who determine whether to approve grants and investments. Relationships are considered by decisionmakers before any grant or investment is approved.
Previously, we also included relationship disclosures in our public grant writeups. As of August 2017, we generally no longer do so, and we have removed the bulk of historical disclosures from our website, though we have left a few in place where they had already been discussed in other public fora or were important to understanding the basic case for a grant. This decision was a result of our evolving thinking on what information is important to share publicly and our view that some disclosures seemed to unnecessarily infringe on the privacy of our staff and grantees. Given these considerations, while we no longer publish relationship disclosures by default, we may do so when we think it would help others learn from our work and maximize the impact of their own giving.