Open Philanthropy is a research and grantmaking foundation that makes grants based on the doctrine of effective altruism.
It was founded as a partnership between GiveWell and Good Ventures.
Its main funders are Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz.
Dustin says that their wealth is “pooled up around us right now, but it belongs to the world. We intend not to have much when we die.”
Dustin Moskovitz made his fortune through co-founding Facebook, and later Asana. He and his wife Cari Tuna were inspired by Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save, and became the youngest couple to sign Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, promising to give away most of their money. Tuna quit her journalist job at The Wall Street Journal to do philanthropy full-time, and the couple started the Good Ventures foundation in 2011.
Good Ventures partnered with GiveWell, a charity evaluator founded by Holden Karnofsky and Elie Hassenfeld.
The partnership named itself the “Open Philanthropy Project” in 2014, and began operating independently in 2017.Good Ventures holds the funds and distributes them according to recommendations by Open Philanthropy. It is the fifth largest foundation in Silicon Valley.
Open Philanthropy’s grantmaking is based on the methodology of effective altruism. The organization does not have a mission centered around a cause area. Rather, it does “substantial empirical research” before funding projects that “deliver the greatest social benefits as efficiently as possible”.
Open Philanthropy has a goal of giving more than $100 million a year. The organization does research openly, publishing hundreds of interviews and a spreadsheet ranking US policy issues by how effectively money might be able to have an impact on their website.
They calculate impact using disability-adjusted life years. Moskovitz and Tuna hope that by being open about their work, they can “help others become better philanthropists”. They consider their work “high-risk philanthropy”, and expect “that most of our work will fail to have an impact”.
Open Philanthropy can also “fund longer timelines than government or industry”.
Open Philanthropy has four categories of focus areas: global health and development, US policy, global catastrophic risks, and science. The organization also invests in animal welfare.
Their most recent grants, which range from $5 million to $45 million, are intended to roughly double the annual grantmaking budget for the targeted programs over three years. The initiative was announced in February 2022 as part of a year-long process to learn from a wide range of grant makers working to fund high-impact efforts that are already under way and piloting new approaches to expand already highly effective grantmaking programs with a track record of improving human health, facilitating economic development, and/or addressing climate change.
In the latest round, grants were awarded to Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), a program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) ($45 million), in support of DIV’s investments in early-stage global health and development projects that have the potential to be highly impactful and cost-effective; the Eleanor Crook Foundation ($25 million) to fund its research and advocacy efforts to end global malnutrition; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation global education program ($5 million) to bolster grants to organizations developing education interventions in low- and middle-income countries; the Gates Foundation global health innovation program ($65 million), which includes a grant of $40 million to fund grantees that are advancing a new vaccine against tuberculosis through efficacy trials in adults and adolescents and $25 million to fund grantees working to diversify cholera vaccine manufacturing and increase vaccine supply to better meet global demand; and Tara Climate Foundation ($10 million) to help create nonprofits and expand the climate movement across Asia (excluding China and India).