[ Question ]

Why isn't GV psychedelics grantmaking housed under Open Phil?

by Milan_Griffes1 min read5th May 201917 comments


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Good Ventures, the foundation that supports the Open Philanthropy Project, has made a series of grants to psychedelic research organizations:

These grants are relatively small compared to the foundation's overall grantmaking capacity, but seem to indicate that Good Ventures has a clear & consistent interest in supporting psychedelic research.

There isn't any record of these grants on the Open Phil site.

Seems like these grants could be neatly housed under Open Phil's "Scientific Research" cause area, perhaps in the "Other Scientific Research" portfolio.

I'm curious about why there's a separation between Good Ventures' psychedelic grantmaking & the grants it makes through Open Phil.

(It's possible that this is simply an oversight, though given what I know about Open Phil's processes I'm guessing it's an intentional separation.)

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From Good Ventures' grantmaking approach page:

In 2018, Good Ventures funded $164 million in grants recommended by the Open Philanthropy Project, including $74 million to GiveWell’s top charities, standout charities, and incubation grants. (These grants generally appear in both the Good Ventures and Open Philanthropy Project grants databases.)
Good Ventures makes a small number of grants in additional areas of interest to the foundation. Such grants totaled around $19 million in 2018. Check out Our Portfolio and Grants Database to learn more about the grants we've made so far.

I asked about this on the most recent Open Phil open thread. Michael Levine replied:

Hi Milan – thanks for the question. You’re right that this was an intentional separation. While the vast majority of Good Ventures grants are also Open Phil grants and appear in both databases, there are a couple of causes – these grants are one, and Alzheimer’s research is another – where Good Ventures has made grants that aren’t in Open Phil focus areas. These grants didn’t go through the cause selection process that we think of as the special sauce that makes something an Open Phil grant.
Hope this is clarifying.

I followed up with:

Thanks for the speedy reply!

Could you say a little more about the conditions under which Good Ventures decides to make grants outside of the Open Phil branding?

I'm particularly curious about the psychedelic & Alzheimer's research grants, because it seems like those both could be neatly housed under Open Phil's "Other Scientific Research" portfolio.