So far, the focus areas we have selected fall into one of two broad categories: Global Health and Wellbeing and Longtermism, led by Open Philanthropy co-CEOs Alexander Berger and Holden Karnofsky, respectively. We summarize the key differences between these portfolios as follows:
- While Longtermism grants tend to be evaluated based on something like “How much this grant raises the probability of a very long-lasting, positive future” (including by reducing global catastrophic risks), Global Health and Wellbeing grants tend to be evaluated based on something like “How much this grant increases health (denominated in e.g. life-years) and/or wellbeing, worldwide.”
- The Global Health and Wellbeing team places greater weight on evidence, precedent, and track record in its giving; the Longtermism team tends to focus on problems and interventions where evidence and track records are often comparatively thin. (That said, the Global Health and Wellbeing team does support a significant amount of low-probability but high-upside work like policy advocacy and scientific research.)
- The Longtermism team’s work could be hugely important, but it’s very hard to answer questions like “How will we know whether this work is on track to have an impact?” We can track intermediate impacts and learn to some degree, but some key premises likely won’t become very clear for decades or more. By contrast, we generally expect the work of the Global Health and Wellbeing team to be more likely to result in recognizable impact on a given ~10-year time frame, and to be more amenable to learning and changing course as we go.