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2022 was a big year for Open Philanthropy:

  • We recommended over $650 million in grants — more, by far, than in any other year of our history. [More]
  • We hired our first program officers for three new focus areas in our Global Health and Wellbeing portfolio. [More]
  • Within our Longtermism portfolio, we significantly expanded our grantmaking and used a series of open calls to identify hundreds of promising grants to individuals and small projects. [More]
  • We ran the Regranting Challenge, a novel experiment which allocated $150 million to outstanding programs at other grantmaking organizations. [More]
  • We nearly doubled the size of our team. [More]

This post compares our progress with the goals we set forth a year ago, and lays out our plans for the coming year, including:

  • A significant update on how we handle allocating our grantmaking across causes. [More]
  • A potential leadership transition. [More]
  • Continued growth in grantmaking and staff. [More]

Continued grantmaking

Last year, we wrote:

We aim to roughly double the amount [of funding] we recommend [in 2022] relative to [2021], and triple it by 2025.

In 2022, we recommended over $650 million in grants (up from roughly $400 million in 2021). 

We changed our plans midway through the year, due to a stock market decline[1] that reduced our available assets and led us to adjust the cost-effectiveness bar we use for our spending on global health and wellbeing. When we wrote last year’s post, we had tentatively planned to allocate $500 million to GiveWell’s recommended charities; the actual allocation wound up being $350 million (up from $300 million in 2021).

Currently, we expect to recommend over $700 million in grants in 2023, and no longer have a definite grantmaking goal for 2024 and 2025.

Highlights from this year’s grantmaking

This section outlines some of the major grants we made across our program areas.

In grants to charities recommended by GiveWell:

In potential risks from advanced AI:

In biosecurity and pandemic preparedness: 

In effective altruism community growth (with a focus on longtermism):

In effective altruism community growth (with a focus on global health and wellbeing):

  • Effektiv Spenden to support their work raising funds for highly effective charities from German speakers, and Ayuda Efectiva for similar work with Spanish speakers.
  • One for the World to support their outreach, focused on university campuses, aimed at encouraging people to pledge a fraction of their income to highly effective charities.

In farm animal welfare: 

  • Mercy for Animals to support corporate campaigns for broiler chicken welfare and cage-free reforms. 
  • Sinergia to support corporate campaigns for farm animal welfare in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
  • Eurogroup for Animals for their work on farm animal welfare in Europe.
  • The Accountability Board for investor advocacy campaigns aimed at speeding up the implementation of corporate farm animal welfare pledges.

In scientific research: 

In global aid policy:

  • One major line of grantmaking was aid policy and advocacy in Japan and Korea. This includes grants to youth advocacy incubator PoliPoli, and to Malaria No More to expand their “malaria diplomacy” work in Japan and Korea.
  • A second major line of grantmaking was support for USAID's Chief Economist's office, including to the Center for Global Development and International Rescue Committee to place staff in that office.

In South Asian air quality:

  • A collaboration between several institutions to support their work building a new tool to model air pollution in India.
  • GDi Partners to support their work on air quality governance among regional governments in India.

New focus areas

Last year, we wrote:

We also announced plans to launch another new focus area: supporting the effective altruism community with a focus on global health and wellbeing. We are still in the process of hiring a program officer to lead this area.

[…]

This year, our global health and wellbeing cause prioritization team aims to launch three more new focus areas where we can find scalable opportunities above our bar, and to continue laying the groundwork for more growth in future years.

Since then, we hired a program officer, James Snowden, to lead our new focus area of EA Community Growth with a focus on global health and wellbeing. James has already recommended several grants.

We’ve also hired grantmakers in two additional areas (compared to our expectation of three):

  • Research Fellow Matt Clancy is leading research and grantmaking on Science and Innovation Policy to safely accelerate scientific progress and innovation.
  • Two new program officers — Katharine Collins and Ray Kennedy — are working on another new program, Global Health Research and Development (GHR&D). 
    • This program serves to expand on the work of our Scientific Research team by recruiting staff with more specialized experience to focus on diseases that disproportionately affect people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). 
    • Historically, some of the science team’s giving has been focused on these diseases — for example, work on malaria and syphilis – while the rest has been focused on other areas of science that appear neglected or potentially transformative, but don’t have the same LMIC focus — for example, aging.
    • The new GHR&D team will work closely with our existing Scientific Research team and make grants to support scientific research, the development of new products, and efforts to make products more affordable and accessible.

Grantmaking through open calls

Last year, we wrote:

This year, we created a number of new programs to openly solicit funding requests from individuals, groups, and organizations. This represents a different approach from the proactive searching and networking we use to find most of our grants, and we are excited by the potential for these programs to unearth strong opportunities we wouldn’t have found otherwise.

The largest such program is our Regranting Challenge, which will allocate $150 million in funding to the grantmaking budgets for one to five outstanding programs at other foundations. That program is closed to new submissions, but we’ve listed many programs that are open to submissions on our “How to Apply for Funding” page.

Since then, we’ve chosen the awardees for our Regranting Challenge. We consider the Challenge a success — we allocated all funds to programs we estimate will meet or exceed our global health and wellbeing cost-effectiveness bar, and we received a larger, stronger, and broader set of applications than we expected.

We’ve also continued issuing open calls for applications or proposals for funding on the longtermist side. These calls led to funding for scholarship support, for recipients of our University Organizer Fellowship, for alignment projects working with deep learning systems, for the development of university courses related to Open Philanthropy’s grantmaking, and for translation projects related to effective altruism (this list is not exhaustive).

Several of our open calls are still in progress; you can view them on our “How to Apply for Funding” page.

Research and cause prioritization

Last year, we ran our Cause Exploration Prizes, and awarded prizes to more than 150 applicants who wrote on topics relevant to cause prioritization at Open Philanthropy.

Our Global Health and Wellbeing team also continued its work on cause prioritization research to identify highly impactful causes within the Global Health and Wellbeing portfolio. We published several examples of this work:

We’ve published many other pieces this year about our research and grantmaking, including work published by Open Philanthropy staff on the Effective Altruism Forum and elsewhere:

Other work

Open Philanthropy staff also produced many other public pieces of work this year:

Hiring updates

Last year, we wrote:

As we scale up our grantmaking, we’ll need to grow our staff to match. Accordingly, we plan to hire more than 30 people this year, and over 100 people in the next four years.

This represents massive growth compared to past years, which is an exciting opportunity and an immense challenge.

Since this update, we’ve hired 38 more staff members! We won’t list them all here, but you can see them on our team page.

Plans for 2023

This section outlines some of what Open Philanthropy is working on in 2023. This is far from a complete list — expect more updates on our blog throughout the year!

Revisiting funding allocation between portfolios 

This year, Open Philanthropy is revisiting the way we allocate funding between our longtermist and global health and wellbeing (GHW) portfolios

Historically, our longtermist spending was limited mostly by the size and number of opportunities for productive grantmaking.[2] Over the past few years, our longtermist grantmaking areas have matured to the point that we believe they can productively absorb more spending than before (which prompted growth in our longtermist spending in 2022). At the same time, our available assets lost almost half their value over the course of 2022, which makes tradeoffs much more direct. In the fall of 2022, we decided we should revisit the important question of how best to allocate resources across our portfolios. 

Over the course of this year, we aim to revisit our historical allocation across worldviews and decide whether and how to change it going forward. We expect to end 2023 with an updated “house view” on how best to allocate assets across worldviews in the near term, as well as a plan for how we should review and update that allocation over time.

Leadership update

My Co-CEO Holden Karnofsky started a leave of absence from Open Philanthropy on March 8 to explore working directly on AI safety. He is initially working on possible safety standards that could help prevent dangerous AI systems from being deployed.

We’ve been preparing for this transition for quite some time. From Holden’s announcement:

Alexander, Cari, Dustin and I have been actively discussing the path to Open Philanthropy running without me since 2018. Our mid-2021 promotion of Alexander to co-CEO was a major step in this direction (putting him in charge of more than half of the organization’s employees and giving), and this is another step, which we’ve been discussing and preparing for for over a year.

Holden plans to be on leave for at least three months, and he may transition to working on AI safety full-time after that, in which case he may leave OP to start or join another organization. While he is on leave, I am serving as the sole CEO of Open Philanthropy.

Hiring plans

Open Philanthropy is still growing; we expect to hire more than 20 additional staff over the next year.  If you want to join our team, check out the open positions on our careers page. (At the time of publishing, we're looking for an In-House Counsel, a People Operations Assistant, and a Research Analyst and an Operations Associate for our biosecurity team). If you don’t see something you want to apply for, you can fill out our General Application, and we’ll reach out if we post a position we think might be a good fit.

Finally, we’re always looking for referrals. If you refer someone and we hire them, we’ll pay you $5,000.

  1. ^

    This just reflects a decline in the market; our main donors are still planning to give away virtually all of their wealth within their lifetimes.

  2. ^

    Through 2022, roughly 70% of our total funding went toward areas in our GHW portfolio, and 30% went toward areas in our longtermist portfolio.

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 9:54 PM

[ref]Through 2022, roughly 70% of our total funding went toward areas in our GHW portfolio, and 30% went toward areas in our longtermist portfolio.[/ref]

Is this meant to be a footnote? FWIW, it flows well with the rest of the paragraph and provides important information, so I think it would work as not-a-footnote too.

Thanks for the flag! Footnotes now properly converted.

Thanks for the updates, I'm really grateful for your work and wish you all the best for the rest of the year! 

Since this update, we’ve hired 38 more staff members!

Pretty cool to see you growing the team, would be interested in the challenges and lessons learned.

Thanks for the update!

Revisiting funding allocation between portfolios

I think it would be great if you could elaborate more on this.

Sad to hear this likely implies Animal Welfare funding will get cut, unlikely we can align AI to treat lesser intelligent beings with grace and care if we can't align ourselves ) :