December 2017

Suggestions for Individual Donors from Open Philanthropy Project Staff - 2017

Last year and the year before, we published a set of suggestions for individual donors looking for organizations to support. This year, we are repeating the practice and publishing updated suggestions from Open Philanthropy Project staff who chose to provide them.

The same caveats as in previous years apply:

  • These are reasonably strong options in causes of interest, and shouldn’t be taken as outright recommendations (i.e., it isn’t necessarily the case that the person making the suggestion thinks they’re the best option available across all causes). Note that interested staff wrote separately about where they personally donated, in this post.
  • In many cases, we find a funding gap we’d like to fill, and then we recommend filling the entire funding gap with a single grant. That doesn’t leave much scope for making a suggestion for individuals. The cases listed below, then, are the cases where, for one reason or another, we haven’t decided to recommend filling an organization’s full funding gap, and we believe it could make use of fairly arbitrary amounts of donations from individuals.
  • Our explanations for why these are strong giving opportunities are very brief and informal, and we don’t expect individuals to be persuaded by them unless they put a lot of weight on the judgment of the person making the suggestion.

Our ‘Second Chance’ Program for NIH Transformative Research Applicants

As part of getting started in science funding, we’ve explored several different methods of finding high-impact giving opportunities, including scanning published research, networking in fields of interest, and considering proposals sent to us by people we know. We recently announced four grants totalling $10.8 million that represent another approach: piggybacking on a government grant program designed to find transformative research.

The approach, in brief:

  • The National Institutes of Health has a program specifically for higher-risk, high-impact research.
  • The NIH has been able to fund only a small portion of proposals received through that program. Some projects considered worthy by peer review were ultimately rejected.
  • The NIH sent out a notice on our behalf to all unfunded 2016 applicants, and more than half re-submitted their applications to us. We received 120 proposals in three weeks.
  • We viewed this RFP as a way to both identify high-risk, high-reward projects and to test our hypothesis that high-risk, high-reward research is underfunded in general.

Staff Members’ Personal Donations for Giving Season 2017

For this post, some Open Phil staff members wrote up the thinking behind their personal donations for the year. Staff are listed in order of their start dates.

You can click the below links to jump to a staff member’s entry:

Holden Karnofsky

I front-loaded my giving last year, and consistent with that, I am not giving this year.