"the uncertainty of what the people would do" -->
Both groups were being funded for open-ended plans (in one case, a career transition, in the other "exploring EA field-building"), rather than a specific venture, hence the uncertainty.
"If you don't want someone to do something" -->
This isn't the case -- if the funders hadn't wanted the recipients to move forward, they wouldn't have given funding. In that case, the funder offered to support a different plan than the one that was originally pitched, namely instead of a venture, a career transition.
Hey Michael! I don’t know if more money would have changed their decisions, but I want to clarify that the funding panel wasn’t funding constrained (we actually had more than $300k set aside for this), and funders didn’t make the decision with that as a limitation.
The cases aren’t actually that similar — in one, the funding panel gave a low amount to discourage the individual from pursuing the idea and support a career transition, in the other they gave the individuals more than requested — but in both cases the uncertainty of what the people would do was the key cause in giving a relatively small amount of money, not being funding constrained.