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The EA Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) offers targeted grants to amplify projects based on effective altruism principles, enhancing their access to talent, capital, and knowledge. They are currently fundraising for the next 6 months' grant distribution. This article provides insight into how EAIF prioritizes projects to fund. I describe hypothetical grants that EAIF might fund based on how much they raise. 

For donors who believe that the current marginal EAIF grants are better than marginal funding of all other organizations, please consider donating to EAIF! [1]This is an especially good time to donate, as donations are matched 2:1 by Open Philanthropy (OP donates $2 for every $1 you donate).

Other updates

  • As mentioned in August, EA Funds and Open Phil are distancing themselves from each other.
    • To help with the transition, Open Phil is switching from a model where they directly give grants to EA Funds (including the EA Infrastructure Fund) to one where they provide 2:1 matching.
  • Relatedly, Max Daniel (who works at Open Phil) has stepped down as chair of EAIF.
  • We’ve written a (rather overdue) payout report for EAIF and aim to publish it before the end of this month.
  • We’re fundraising for EAIF, as it is rather funding constrained. Donations will be matched 2:1 by Open Phil until the end of January.
  • We plan to make the strategy of EAIF more conceptually crisp going forwards, likely with a specific focus towards working on “principles-first EA.” More details forthcoming. 
  • We’re likely to try to hire a chair for EAIF soon, probably after we conclude a hiring round for the full-time LTFF chair role. We have not yet decided whether it makes sense for the EAIF chair to be full-time.

Intro

This article follows a similar post about funding priorities at the Long-Term Future Fund (LTFF), and similar methodologies and caveats apply here.

In particular:

  1. This article is primarily aimed at donors, not grantees. Compatibility between an applicant and their proposed project, including personal interest and enthusiasm, plays a crucial role in the project’s success. Therefore, we discourage tailoring your applications to match the higher tiers of this list.
  2. My own view is that the conceptual grounding for EAIF grants is a bit worse than that for LTFF grants. Thus, the reasoning behind previous EAIF grants might be a bit harder to generalize than for LTFF grants. 
  3. I anticipate a higher rate of staff and strategic direction changes at EAIF compared to LTFF in the next six months. Consequently, I predict that decision-making for EAIF grants will vary more from past trends than decisions for LTFF grants.
  4. My lesser familiarity with EAIF may affect my enthusiasm in this write-up; adjust your credences accordingly.

Again, please see the notes on my other post on LTFF for more explanations, methodology, and other caveats.

Grant tiers

EAIF’s primary aim in awarding grants is to improve the capacity of people and projects that follow the principles of effective altruism. Grantmakers try to evaluate each grant according to their subjective worldviews and their sense of whether spending $X on the grant is a sufficiently good use of limited resources given that they only have $Y total to spend on EA goals. 

In the tiers below, I illustrate the types of projects (and corresponding grant costs[2] in brackets) that EAIF would potentially finance conditional upon EAIF raising that much money over the next six months. For each tier, I list only projects that EAIF likely wouldn't finance if their fundraising only met the preceding tier's total. For example, if EAIF raised $1.2 million, they would likely fund everything in the $100,000 and $1M tiers, but only a small subset (up to $200,000) of projects in the $5M tier, and nothing in the $10M tier.

To put it differently, as funding for EAIF increases, the threshold for applications they would consider funding decreases, as there is more funding to go around.

The grants below are fictional grants created from blending real grants and adding some noise to anonymize further. For example, if EAIF gave grants to EA Oregon and EA Oklahoma, I might anonymize by modifying the dollar amounts and say the grant was to “EA British Columbia”, on the grounds that British Columbia has a similar population and GDP to Oregon and Oklahoma. Of course, this does not necessarily mean EAIF (or I) endorse or fund work done specifically by EA British Columbia. See my corresponding post on LTFF for more methodological details.

If EAIF raises $100,000

These are some fictional projects that EAIF might fund if they had roughly $100,000 of funding over the next 6 months.

  • Continued funding for a well-executed podcast featuring innovative thinking from a range of cause areas in effective altruism ($25,000)
  • Funding a very promising biology PhD student to attend a one-month program run by a prestigious US think tank to better understand how the intelligence community monitors various kinds of risk such as biological threats ($6,000)

$1M Tier

Below are some hypothetical projects EAIF might additionally fund if they had roughly $1M of funding over the next 6 months (roughly 1/5 - 1/6 of their past spending rate). This is roughly how much money they’ll have if only we only count their current reserves and explicit promises of additional funding.

  • A program run by a former career counselor at an elite college introducing intellectually- and ethically-minded college freshmen to EA and future-oriented thinking ($35,000)
  • A six-month stipend and expenses for a dedicated national coordinator of EA Colombia[3]  to aid community expansion and project coordination ($12,000)
  • A nine-month stipend for a community builder to run an EA group for professionals in a US tech hub ($45,000)
  • Expenses for a student magazine covering issues like biosecurity and factory farming for non-EA audiences ($9,000)

$5M Tier

Should EAIF secure roughly $5M in funding for the next six months, corresponding to their current funding target, they might additionally fund the following hypothetical grants:

  • A 12-month stipend and budget for an EA to conduct programs to increase the positive impact of biomedical engineers and scientists ($75,000)
  • Capital and a part-time stipend for an organizer to obtain rental accommodation for 15 students visiting EA hubs for internships during the summer ($40,000)
  • 12 months’ living stipend, rent, and operational expenses for 2 co-organizers to develop and test out a program for specialized skill development within the Indonesian EA community and delivering high-quality localized content ($35,000)
  • A shared workspace for the EA community in a major European city, to be used by a European community builder, project leaders, and guests at EA organizations, for 6 months ($15,000)
  • Rerunning a large-scale study on perceptions of the EA brand to see if the results changed post-November 2022 ($11,000)
  • Stipend and one year of expenses for someone with local experience in high-net-worth fundraising to launch an Effective Giving Singapore[3] website and start fundraising initiatives in Singapore for highly impactful global health charities ($170,000)

$10M Tier

In the unlikely event that EAIF secures roughly $10M of funding for the next 6 months, they might additionally fund the following hypothetical grants. 

  • Stipend for 4 full time equivalent (FTE) employees and operational expenses for an independent research organization that conducts EA cause prioritization research and assists a few medium-sized donors ($500,000)
  • Part-time stipend (3 FTE months) and expenses to develop social media content and engagement for the new EA Vietnam community group ($10,000)
  • A one-year stipend to develop and maintain an open-source Swapcard alternative, primarily for EA conferences ($120,000)

Note: EAIF may opt to save funds or redirect them to more impactful projects if it raises substantially more than expected.

If you’ve read this far, please don’t hesitate to comment if you have additional questions, clarifications, or feedback!

EAIF currently has approximately $1.5 million in funding committed or in reserve. So if you think grants above the $1M tier are valuable, you should consider donating to EAIF!

Acknowledgements

The idea for this post came from Caleb Parikh. Thanks for feedback from Caleb, Tom Barnes, and Peter Wildeford.

  1. ^

    The EA Infrastructure Fund is part of EA Funds, which is a fiscally sponsored project of Effective Ventures Foundation (UK) (“EV UK”) and Effective Ventures Foundation USA Inc. (“EV US”). Donations to LTFF and EAIF are donations to EV US or EV UK. Please see important state disclosures here.

  2. ^

     See this appendix in the LTFF payout report for how we set grant and stipend amounts.

  3. ^

    Any reference to proper nouns, including country and regional names, should be assumed to be fictional.

Comments4
Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 6:06 AM

Hey, is it a reasonable interpretation that EAIF is much much more interested in growing EA than in supporting existing EAs?

(I'm not saying this is a mistake)

 

P.S

Here are the "support existing EAs" examples I saw:

  • "[funding a] PhD student to attend a one-month program" [$100k tier] - this seems like a very different grant than the other examples, I'm even surprised to see this under EAIF rather than LTFF
  • "A shared workspace for the EA community" [$5M tier] - totally supports existing EAs
  • "an open-source Swapcard alternative" [$10M tier] - I'm surprised this isn't under CEA

Thanks for that. Could you give more details on the considerations and expected values of these examples?

I agree.

I appreciate the examples are adapted and so shouldn't be taken literally, but if this post is being used to convince donors it'd be helpful to understand the marginal gains expected if possible.

To me, EAIF is one of the strongest forces to build the community and catalyse the work done by other topic area specifc projects/funds (incl. LTFF). I wonder how many people working in successful EA orgs. first got involved through and now propegate their research/policies/ideas through EAIF funded orgs.? It'll be great to see how the EAIF evolves over the coming months to hopefully maximise the impact of it's funding - an exciting time! 

This article is primarily aimed at donors, not grantees.

FWIW, I also think it's valuable information for grantmakers who want to understand the types of applications others are excited about funding.

Thank you for the write-up!