In 2017 (the last year for which we have complete data), Open Phil accounted for 78.7% of all EA grantmaking. 2018 & 2019 will probably follow a similar pattern, though the data isn't in yet.
So EA is currently in a regime wherein the large majority of capital flows from a single source, and capital allocation is set by a small number of decision-makers.
Rough estimate: if ~60% of Open Phil grantmaking decisioning is attributable to Holden, then 47.2% of all EA capital allocation, or $157.4M, was decided by one individual in 2017. 2018 & 2019 will probably have similar proportions.
It seems like EA entered into this regime largely due to historically contingent reasons (Cari & Dustin developing a close relationship with Holden, then outsourcing a lot of their philanthropic decision-making to him & the Open Phil staff).
It's not clear that this structure will lead to optimal capital allocation. It's straightforward to imagine alternative structures:
- e.g. Cari & Dustin route 50% of their philanthropy through Open Phil & 50% through a separate foundation.
- e.g. Cari & Dustin route 90% their philanthropy through Open Phil, and allocate the remaining 10% to grantmakers seeking "moonshots" (Peter Thiel has done something like this by funding the Thiel Fellowship & Tyler Cowen's Emergent Ventures).
- e.g. Cari & Dustin make large grants directly to the EA Funds, in addition to doing grantmaking through Open Phil.
I'm not claiming that any of the above will necessarily lead to better capital allocation than the current structure, but it seems plausible that they might.
I'm not aware of much discussion of alternative capital structures in the EA community, so exploring this seems valuable.