Once a grant has been conditionally approved, the investigator will send the potential grantee a notification and connect them to our internal grants team, who will request the basic details required to process the funding recommendation and ensure compliance with our approach to openness, research transparency guidelines, or any legal restrictions that might be placed on the funding. For simple grants, reviewing and responding to the logistics email typically takes the grantee about an hour and can be completed within a week. For university and international grants, it may take a few weeks to coordinate and confirm all the grant details. Once this is completed, we formally recommend the grant to one of our external funding partners.
The Open Philanthropy Project, LLC (the organization that employs most Open Philanthropy staff) generally does not pay grants directly, but instead submits formal recommendations to one of our external funding partners, such as the Silicon Valley Community Foundation or the Good Ventures Foundation, who will then conduct legal due diligence and a formal approval process to determine whether or not to fund the grant. Legally we cannot guarantee that a grant will be made until the formal approval process has been completed by our external funding partners; historically, however, almost all of the grants that have been conditionally approved have ultimately received funding. For example, of the ~200 grants that Open Philanthropy conditionally approved in 2016, over 98% were made. In 2016, a small number of grants were conditionally approved but did not receive funding. However, these grants were canceled or postponed by grantee request, such as a grantee deciding to pursue an alternative project for the time being. That said, all Open Philanthropy grants must complete legal due diligence and the formal approval process of our external funding partners in order to be made.
For a standard grant to a US 501(c)(3) organization, our external partner’s approval process can take a few weeks to finalize and require 1-2 hours of a potential grantee’s time, while grants that involve lobbying, have an unusual structure, or are funding universities or international organizations might take a few months to process and require more involvement from a grantee. So, altogether this formal approval stage typically takes around a month but occasionally takes more like 3-6+ months for especially complicated grants (see chart below for average payment times in 2020).
Once this stage is completed, the grant is finalized, funds are transferred, and work on the project can begin.