The Long-Term Future Fund (LTFF) and the EA Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) are looking for grant applications:

  • You can now apply for a grant anytime. We have removed the previous round-based system, and now aim to evaluate most grants within 21 days of submission (and all grants within 42 days), regardless of when they have been submitted. If you indicate that your application is time-sensitive, we will aim to get back to you more quickly (potentially within just a few days). Apply now.
  • You can now suggest that we give money to other people, or let us know about ideas for how we could spend our money. We’re interested in both high-level ideas and concrete, shovel-ready grant opportunities. We will read all suggestions, but we expect to follow up on only a small number. It’s hard to find great grants, so we really appreciate your suggestions! Suggest a grant
  • We fund student scholarships, career exploration, local groups, entrepreneurial projects, academic teaching buy-outs, top-up funding for poorly paid academics, and many other things. We can make anonymous grants without public reporting. We will consider grants as low as $1,000 or as high as $500,000 (or more in some cases). As a reminder, EA Funds is more flexible than you might think.
  • The LTFF is managed by Asya Bergal (chairperson), Adam Gleave, Evan Hubinger (newly appointed), and Oliver Habryka. For the coming months, they will be joined by Luisa Rodriguez as a guest manager. See its recent payout report.
  • The EAIF is managed by myself (interim/acting chairperson), Max Daniel (chairperson), Buck Shlegeris, and Michelle Hutchinson. For the coming months, Linh Chi Nguyen and Michael Aird will join as guest managers. See its recent payout report and AMA.
  • The Animal Welfare Fund will continue on a round-based system. For recent updates, see Request For Proposals: EA Animal Welfare Fund and Animal Welfare Fund: Ask us anything!

Apply here. We look forward to hearing from you!

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27 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 12:20 PM
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(Potential COI: I've received money from LTFF)

I think this is quite high value in expectation; it can be difficult for a grant round to coincide with an individual's timing. I personally know of instances where someone would have applied for a grant, but there was no grant round open (& sometimes decision timing can be an issue as well), and therefore they moved to doing something else they felt was lower value.

Great development!

Thanks, we really hope it will help people like the ones you mentioned!

I love the idea of suggesting people who should be funded but I imagine many might need a prompt.

How about occasionally putting questions on the forum or little Google forms asking for recommendations.

Yeah, I plan to keep sending the form around in the coming months. Using the EA Forum question feature is a great idea, too. Thank you!

Cool! Around how long after a grant has been evaluated and approved does it take before the money gets to someone? Maybe this differs depending on which country you're from and whether you're an individual or organization, but I'd be asking for individuals.

In a typical case, it takes a week to complete due diligence, and up to 31 days for the money to be paid out (because we currently do the payouts in monthly batches). So from decision to "money in the bank account" it takes 1–6 weeks, typically 3.5 weeks. I think the country shouldn't matter too much for this. Because most grantees care more about having a definite decision than the money actually arriving in their bank account, this waiting time seemed fine to us (though we're also looking into ways to cut it short).

That said, if the grantseeker indicates that they need the money urgently, and they submit due diligence promptly, the payout can be expedited and should take just a few days.

Got it, thanks! Yeah 3.5 weeks is fine, and it's cool too that the payout can be expedited if needed.

Is it possible to apply for a grant when the date you would want the funds is quite far in advance (say, for example, one year)? 

I wouldn't rule it out, but typically we might say something like: We are interested in principle, but would like to wait for another 6-12 months to see how your project/career/organization develops in the meantime before committing the funding (unless there's a convincing reason for why you need the funding immediately).

(The following is just my view, not necessarily the view of other EAIF managers. And I can't speak for the LTFF at all.)

FWIW I can think of a number of circumstances I'd consider a "convincing reason" in this context. In particular, cases where people know they won't be available for 6-12 months because they want to wrap up some ongoing unrelated commitment, or cases where large lead times are common (e.g., PhD programs and some other things in academia).

I think as with most other aspects of a grant, I'd make decisions on a case-by-case basis that would be somewhat hard to describe by general rules.

I imagine I'd generally be fairly open to considering cases where an applicant thinks it would be useful to get a commitment now for funding that would be paid out a few months out, and I would much prefer they just apply as opposed to worrying too much about whether their case for this is "convincing". 

Thanks a lot, this is useful context. I work in academia so the large lead times are relevant, particularly because other 'traditional' funders would require applications well in advance. It would  be useful to know whether it was necessary to pursue those other funding routes as a 'career hedge' or not, for example, via a commitment to funding. 

I am interested to hear if anyone from LTFF agrees/disagrees with Max's assessment in these circumstances. 

I'm one of the grant evaluators for the LTFF and I don't think I would have any qualms with funding a project 6-12 months in advance.

Great, thanks for the response.

(Also agree with Max. Long lead times in academia definitely qualify as a "convincing reason" in my view)

It’s hard to find great grants

Pardon me if this is overly pedantic, but I think you might be missing a map/territory distinction here. "It's hard to find great grants" seems different than "It's hard to find grants we really like". For example, the LTFF managers mentioned multiple times in this post that they're skeptical of funding independent researchers, but this analyst found (based on a limited sample size) that independent researchers outperformed organizations among LTFF grant recipients. Similarly, a poll of Fast Grants recipients found that almost 80% would make major changes to their research program if funders relaxed constraints on what their grants could be used for, suggesting that the preferences of grantmakers can diverge wildly from the preferences of researchers applying for grants.

that they're skeptical of funding independent researchers

Just for the record, this is definitely not an accurate one-line summary of my stance, and I am pretty confident it's also not a very good summary of other people on the LTFF. Indeed, I don't know of almost any other funding body that has funded as many independent researchers as the LTFF. 

The linked post just says that Adam "tends to apply a fairly high bar to long-term independent research", which I do agree implies some level of hesitation, but I don't think it implies a general stance of skepticism towards funding independent researchers. My model here is that there are certain people for whom independent research is a pretty big trap for, and this does imply a certain level of hesitation on making a marginal grant. Many really great things will come out of independent research, but I do also think for some people trying to pursue an independent research path will be a really big waste of human capital, and potentially cause some pretty bad experiences, and I do think this implies thinking carefully through independent research grants.

I think you're splitting hairs here--my point is that your "hesitation" doesn't really seem to be justified by the data.

trying to pursue an independent research path will be a really big waste of human capital, and potentially cause some pretty bad experiences

I think this is even more true for graduate school:

Independent research seems superior to graduate school for multiple reasons, but one factor is that the time commitment is much lower.

In my opinion it's not enough to carefully think through independent research grants... with so much longtermist funding centralized through your organization, you also have to carefully think through a default of funneling people through another thing that can waste a lot of human capital and cause a lot of bad experiences, but lasts 5-10x longer.

I am indeed even more hesitant to recommend grad school to people than independent research. See my comments here: https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/5zedDETncHasvxGrr/should-you-do-a-phd-in-science?commentId=hK2tso7Jexhvmvsfb 

Sure. Well when the LTFF funds graduate students who aren't even directly focused on improving the long-term future, just to help them advance their careers, I think that sends a strong signal that the LTFF thinks grad school should be the default path. Counterfactually, if grad school is 5-10x the risk of independent research, it seems like you should be 5-10x as hesitant to fund grad students compared to independent researchers. (Assuming for the moment that paternalism is in fact the correct orientation for a grantmaker to have.)

Counterfactually, if grad school is 5-10x the risk of independent research, it seems like you should be 5-10x as hesitant to fund grad students compared to independent researchers.

I don't think that's an accurate estimate of the relevant risk. I don't think risk goes up linearly with time. Many people quit their PhDs when they aren't a good fit.

Well when the LTFF funds graduate students who aren't even directly focused on improving the long-term future, just to help them advance their careers, I think that sends a strong signal that the LTFF thinks grad school should be the default path.

I mean, I don't think there is currently a great "default path" for doing work on the long-term future. I feel like we've said some things to that effect. I think grad school is a fine choice for some people, but I think we are funding many fewer people for grad school than we are funding them for independent research (there are some people who we are funding for an independent research project during grad school, but that really isn't the same as funding someone for grad school), but would have to make a detailed count to be totally confident of this. Pretty confident this is true for my grant votes/recommendations. 

I don't think risk goes up linearly with time. Many people quit their PhDs when they aren't a good fit.

Fair enough.

Maybe a pragmatic solution here is to emphasize to people who get a grant to do independent research that they can quit and give back the remainder of their grant at any time?

Yeah, I think we've done that a few times, but not confident. Would have to look over a bunch of records to be confident.

"It's hard to find great grants" seems different than "It's hard to find grants we really like".

I would expect that most grantmakers (including ones with different perspectives) would agree with this and would find it hard to spend money in useful ways (e.g., I suspect that Nuño might say something similar if he were running the LTFF, though not sure). So while I think your framing is overall slightly more accurate, I feel like it's okay to phrase it the way I did.

that they're skeptical of funding independent researchers

I don't think this characterization is accurate. I think we're funding a lot of independent researchers, and often think that's great use of money. In fact, the (I think) LTFF's highest-rated grant ever was an independent research grant. I think the LTFF managers are saying something more like "doing independent research is really hard (psychologically and intellectually)", and we want to avoid funding people for independent research when they might do much better in an organization.

Similarly, a poll of Fast Grants recipients found that almost 80% would make major changes to their research program if funders relaxed constraints on what their grants could be used for, suggesting that the preferences of grantmakers can diverge wildly from the preferences of researchers applying for grants.

The context of that (NIH grants) seems very different; I don't think this supports the thesis "EA Funds grantmakers have different preferences from EA Funds grantseekers".

I haven't read Nuño's post yet (just discovered it now through your comment).

My model for why there's a big discrepancy between what NIH grantmakers will fund and what Fast Grants recipients want to do is that NIH grantmakers adopt a sort of conservative, paternalistic attitude. I don't think this is unique to NIH grantmakers. For example, in your comment you wrote:

we want to avoid funding people for independent research when they might do much better in an organization

The person who applies for a grant knows a lot more about their situation than the grantmaker does: their personal psychology, the nature of their research interests, their fit for various organizations. They seem a lot better equipped to make career decisions for themselves than busy grantmakers.

It seems worth considering the possibility that there are psychological dynamics to grantmaking that are inherent in the nature of the activity. Maybe the NIH has just had more time to slide down this slope than EA Funds has.

Is the map/territory distinction central to your point? I get the impression that you're mostly expressing the opinion that the LTFF has too high a bar or idiosyncratic (or too narrow) research taste. (I'd imagine that grantmakers are trying to do what's best on impact grounds.) 

The feedback loops in grantmaking aren't great. There's a tendency for everyone to assume that because you control so much money, you must know what you're doing. (I talked to an ex-grantmaker who said that even after noticing and articulating this tendency, he continued to see it operating in himself.) And people who want to get a grant will be extra deferential:

once you become a philanthropist, you never again tell a bad joke… everyone wants to be on your good side. And I think that can be a very toxic environment…

source

So I think it's important to be extra self-skeptical if you're working as a grantmaker.

Update: Max Daniel is now the EA Infrastructure Fund's chairperson. See here.