Open Philanthropy Project donations made to Center for Applied Rationality

This is an online portal with information on donations that were announced publicly (or have been shared with permission) that were of interest to Vipul Naik. The git repository with the code for this portal, as well as all the underlying data, is available on GitHub. All payment amounts are in current United States dollars (USD). The repository of donations is being seeded with an initial collation by Issa Rice as well as continued contributions from him (see his commits and the contract work page listing all financially compensated contributions to the site) but all responsibility for errors and inaccuracies belongs to Vipul Naik. Current data is preliminary and has not been completely vetted and normalized; if sharing a link to this site or any page on this site, please include the caveat that the data is preliminary (if you want to share without including caveats, please check with Vipul Naik). We expect to have completed the first round of development by the end of March 2022. See the about page for more details. Also of interest: pageview data on analytics.vipulnaik.com, tutorial in README, request for feedback to EA Forum.

Table of contents

Basic donor information

ItemValue
Country United States
Affiliated organizations (current or former; restricted to potential donees or others relevant to donation decisions)GiveWell Good Ventures
Best overview URLhttps://causeprioritization.org/Open%20Philanthropy%20Project
Facebook username openphilanthropy
Websitehttps://www.openphilanthropy.org/
Donations URLhttps://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants
Twitter usernameopen_phil
PredictionBook usernameOpenPhilUnofficial
Page on philosophy informing donationshttps://www.openphilanthropy.org/about/vision-and-values
Grant application process pagehttps://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/guide-for-grant-seekers
Regularity with which donor updates donations datacontinuous updates
Regularity with which Donations List Website updates donations data (after donor update)continuous updates
Lag with which donor updates donations datamonths
Lag with which Donations List Website updates donations data (after donor update)days
Data entry method on Donations List WebsiteManual (no scripts used)
Org Watch pagehttps://orgwatch.issarice.com/?organization=Open+Philanthropy+Project

Brief history: The Open Philanthropy Project (Open Phil for short) spun off from GiveWell, starting as GiveWell Labs in 2011, beginning to make strong progress in 2013, and formally separating from GiveWell in June 2017

Brief notes on broad donor philosophy and major focus areas: The Open Philanthropy Project is focused on openness in two ways: open to ideas about cause selection, and open in explaining what they are doing. It has endorsed "hits-based giving" and is working on areas of AI risk, biosecurity and pandemic preparedness, and other global catastrophic risks, criminal justice reform (United States), animal welfare, and some other areas.

Notes on grant decision logistics: See https://www.openphilanthropy.org/blog/our-grantmaking-so-far-approach-and-process for the general grantmaking process and https://www.openphilanthropy.org/blog/questions-we-ask-ourselves-making-grant for more questions that grant investigators are encouraged to consider. Every grant has a grant investigator that we call the influencer here on Donations List Website; for focus areas that have Program Officers, the grant investigator is usually the Program Officer. The grant investigator has been included in grants published since around July 2017. Grants usually need approval from an executive; however, some grant investigators have leeway to make "discretionary grants" where the approval process is short-circuited; see https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/discretionary-grants for more. Note that the term "discretionary grant" means something different for them compared to government agencies, see https://www.facebook.com/vipulnaik.r/posts/10213483361534364 for more

Notes on grant publication logistics: Every publicly disclosed grant has a writeup published at the time of public disclosure, but the writeups vary significantly in length. Grant writeups are usually written by somebody other than the grant investigator, but approved by the grant investigator as well as the grantee. Grants have three dates associated with them: an internal grant decision date (that is not publicly revealed but is used in some statistics on total grant amounts decided by year), a grant date (which we call donation date; this is the date of the formal grant commitment, which is the published grant date), and a grant announcement date (which we call donation announcement date; the date the grant is announced to the mailing list and the grant page made publicly visible). Lags are a few months between decision and grant, and a few months between grant and announcement, due to time spent with grant writeup approval

Notes on grant financing: See https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/guide-for-grant-seekers or https://www.openphilanthropy.org/about/who-we-are for more information. Grants generally come from the Open Philanthropy Project Fund, a donor-advised fund managed by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, with most of its money coming from Good Ventures. Some grants are made directly by Good Ventures, and political grants may be made by the Open Philanthropy Action Fund. At least one grant https://www.openphilanthropy.org/focus/us-policy/criminal-justice-reform/working-families-party-prosecutor-reforms-new-york was made by Cari Tuna personally. The majority of grants are financed by the Open Philanthropy Project Fund; however, the source of financing of a grant is not always explicitly specified, so it cannot be confidently assumed that a grant with no explicit listed financing is financed through the Open Philanthropy Project Fund; see the comment https://www.openphilanthropy.org/blog/october-2017-open-thread?page=2#comment-462 for more information. Funding for multi-year grants is usually disbursed annually, and the amounts are often equal across years, but not always. The fact that a grant is multi-year, or the distribution of the grant amount across years, are not always explicitly stated on the grant page; see https://www.openphilanthropy.org/blog/october-2017-open-thread?page=2#comment-462 for more information. Some grants to universities are labeled "gifts" but this is a donee classification, based on different levels of bureaucratic overhead and funder control between grants and gifts; see https://www.openphilanthropy.org/blog/october-2017-open-thread?page=2#comment-462 for more information.

Miscellaneous notes: Most GiveWell-recommended grants made by Good Ventures and listed in the Open Philanthropy Project database are not listed on Donations List Website as being under Open Philanthropy Project. Specifically, GiveWell Incubation Grants are not included (these are listed at https://donations.vipulnaik.com/donor.php?donor=GiveWell+Incubation+Grants with donor GiveWell Incubation Grants), and grants made by Good Ventures to GiveWell top and standout charities are also not included (these are listed at https://donations.vipulnaik.com/donor.php?donor=Good+Ventures%2FGiveWell+top+and+standout+charities with donor Good Ventures/GiveWell top and standout charities). Grants to support GiveWell operations are not included here; they can be found at https://donations.vipulnaik.com/donor.php?donor=Good+Ventures%2FGiveWell+support with donor "Good Ventures/GiveWell support".The investment https://www.openphilanthropy.org/focus/us-policy/farm-animal-welfare/impossible-foods in Impossible Foods is not included because it does not fit our criteria for a donation, and also because no amount was included. All other grants publicly disclosed by the Open Philanthropy Project that are not GiveWell Incubation Grants or GiveWell top and standout charity grants should be included. Grants disclosed by grantees but not yet disclosed by the Open Philanthropy Project are not included; some of them may be listed at https://issarice.com/open-philanthropy-project-non-grant-funding

Full donor page for donor Open Philanthropy Project

Basic donee information

ItemValue
Country United States
Facebook page AppliedRationality
Websitehttp://rationality.org/
Donate pagehttp://rationality.org/donate
Donors list pagehttp://rationality.org/about/top-donors
Transparency and financials pagehttp://rationality.org/about/official-records
Donation case pagehttp://lesswrong.com/lw/n39/why_cfar_the_view_from_2015/
Twitter usernamecfarnews
Wikipedia pagehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_for_Applied_Rationality
Open Philanthropy Project grant reviewhttp://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-general-support
Timelines wiki pagehttps://timelines.issarice.com/wiki/Timeline_of_Center_for_Applied_Rationality
Org Watch pagehttps://orgwatch.issarice.com/?organization=Center+for+Applied+Rationality
Key peopleJulia Galef|Anna Salamon
Launch date2012

Full donee page for donee Center for Applied Rationality

Donor–donee relationship

Item Value
Key interactions
Notes Between 2016 and 2018, Open Philanthropy Project (Open Phil) made many grants to CFAR, both for general support and for specific programs like SPARC and ESPR. The initial grants were made despite reservations about the organizational management of CFAR; by the time of the January 2018 grant, Open Phil was satisfied with CFAR's improvement on that front. As of April 2020, Open Phil has not made any grants to CFAR since January 2018, though at least one of the January 2018 grants was a two-year grant.

Donor–donee donation statistics

Cause areaCountMedianMeanMinimum10th percentile 20th percentile 30th percentile 40th percentile 50th percentile 60th percentile 70th percentile 80th percentile 90th percentile Maximum
Overall 6 375,000 602,333 304,000 304,000 340,000 340,000 375,000 375,000 560,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,035,000 1,035,000
Rationality improvement 6 375,000 602,333 304,000 304,000 340,000 340,000 375,000 375,000 560,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,035,000 1,035,000

Donation amounts by cause area and year

If you hover over a cell for a given cause area and year, you will get a tooltip with the number of donees and the number of donations.

Note: Cause area classification used here may not match that used by donor for all cases.

Cause area Number of donations Total 2020 2018 2017 2016
Rationality improvement (filter this donor) 6 3,614,000.00 375,000.00 1,560,000.00 340,000.00 1,339,000.00
Total 6 3,614,000.00 375,000.00 1,560,000.00 340,000.00 1,339,000.00

Graph of spending by cause area and year (incremental, not cumulative)

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Graph of spending by cause area and year (cumulative)

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Full list of donations in reverse chronological order (6 donations)

Amount (current USD)Amount rank (out of 6)Donation dateCause areaURLInfluencerNotes
375,000.0042020-02Rationality improvementhttps://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-general-support-2020Claire Zabel Intended use of funds (category): Organizational general support

Intended use of funds: The grant page says: "CFAR is an adult education nonprofit that seeks to find and develop cognitive tools and to deliver these tools to promising individuals, groups, organizations, and networks focused on solving large and pressing problems. [...] They introduce people to and/or strengthen their connections with the effective altruism (EA) community and way of thinking, which we hope results in people with outstanding potential pursuing more impactful career trajectories. CFAR is particularly interested in growing the talent pipeline for work on potential risks from advanced artificial intelligence (AI)."

Donor reason for selecting the donee: The grant page says: "Our primary interest in these workshops is that we believe they introduce people to and/or strengthen their connections with the effective altruism (EA) community and way of thinking, which we hope results in people with outstanding potential pursuing more impactful career trajectories." Also: "CFAR is particularly interested in growing the talent pipeline for work on potential risks from advanced artificial intelligence (AI). More on our interest in supporting work [...]"

Donor reason for donating that amount (rather than a bigger or smaller amount): Amount chosen to provide one year of operating support

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determind by the end of the funding timeframe of the previous two-year grant https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-general-support-2018 made January 2018
Intended funding timeframe in months: 12

Donor thoughts on making further donations to the donee: This is an exit grant, so Open Phil does not plan to make further grants to CFAR. Announced: 2020-04-20.
560,000.0032018-01Rationality improvementhttps://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-sparc-2018Nick Beckstead Nicole Ross Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: Grant "to support the Summer Program on Applied Rationality and Cognition (SPARC). SPARC is a two-week summer program for top high school students to further develop skills related to applied reasoning, with a broad-ranging curriculum."

Donor reason for selecting the donee: The grant page says: "We expect that this program will expand the horizons of some students with extremely high potential and, hopefully, increase their positive impact on the world. We are especially interested in the possibility that participation in SPARC leads to greater awareness of effective altruism and issues important to the effective altruism community."

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Open Phil had previously funded SPARC for 2016 and 2017 with the grant https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-sparc This grant continues the funding to 2018 (and possibly to later years) Announced: 2018-02.
1,000,000.0022018-01Rationality improvementhttps://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-general-support-2018Nick Beckstead Intended use of funds (category): Organizational general support

Intended use of funds: The grant page says: "CFAR is an adult education nonprofit that seeks to find and develop cognitive tools and to deliver these tools to promising individuals, groups, organizations, and networks focused on solving large and pressing problems."

Donor reason for selecting the donee: The grant page says: "Our primary interest in [CFAR] workshops is that we believe they introduce people to and/or strengthen their connections with the effective altruism (EA) community and way of thinking, which we hope results in people with outstanding potential pursuing more impactful career trajectories. CFAR is particularly interested in growing the talent pipeline for work on potential risks from advanced artificial intelligence (AI). More on our interest in supporting work along these lines is here."

Donor thoughts on making further donations to the donee: The grant page says: "CFAR’s performance on this grant will be judged primarily in terms of whether it provides adequate evidence of its programs resulting in improved career trajectories of the sort described above."

Donor retrospective of the donation: The followup grant https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-general-support-2020 would be an exit grant, suggesting that Open Phil would revise downward its assessment of continued support of CFAR, but still continue to value CFAR enough to help it exit smoothly. Intended funding timeframe in months: 1; announced: 2018-02-28.
340,000.0052017-05Rationality improvementhttps://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-european-summer-program-rationalityNick Beckstead Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: Grant to support the "European Summer Program on Rationality (ESPR), a two-week summer workshop for about 40 mathematically gifted students aged 16-19."

Donor reason for selecting the donee: The grant page says: "We are excited about this grant because we expect that ESPR will orient participants to problems that we believe to be high impact, and may lead them to increase their positive impact on the world."

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Donation made in time to fund the event for 2017 Announced: 2017-09-27.
1,035,000.0012016-07Rationality improvement/effective altruism/movement growthhttps://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-general-supportNick Beckstead Donation process: According to https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-general-support#Our_process "While investigating this grant, we had several conversations with Anna Salamon, as well as with various other contacts of ours in the EA community. Nick Beckstead was the primary investigator for this grant."

Intended use of funds (category): Organizational general support

Intended use of funds: The grant page says: "$915,000 of this grant will support CFAR workshops and organizational improvements. $120,000 of this grant will fund a pilot version of EuroSPARC, an eight-day summer program in Europe run by CFAR for mathematically gifted high school students, modeled on the San Francisco-based Summer Program in Applied Rationality and Cognition (SPARC), which CFAR has helped run for the past three years."

Donor reason for selecting the donee: Stated reasons for the grant include value-alignment, success attracting and cultivating talented people to work on effective altruist causes, and funding being a substantial constraint at present

Donor reason for donating that amount (rather than a bigger or smaller amount): Amount tied to a budget proposed by CFAR, described at https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-general-support#Budget_and_room_for_more_funding first year: $360,000 for organizational improvements, $100,000 for scholarships for CFAR workshops, $120,000 for EuroSPARC 2016, $47,500 for half the salary and benefits of a new staff member splitting time between CFAR operations and SPARC; second year: 360,000 for organizational improvements, $47,500 for half the salary and benefits of a new staff member

Donor thoughts on making further donations to the donee: https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-general-support#Key_questions_for_follow-up lists key follow-up questions

Donor retrospective of the donation: The grant page for a followup January 2018 grant https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-general-support-2018 would say: "Since our 2016 funding recommendation, CFAR has largely met its milestones for organizational improvement." The statement, along with the fact that the followup grant would have a comparable size of $1,000,000, suggests that Open Phil would be satisfied with the results of the grant Intended funding timeframe in months: 1; announced: 2016-09-06.
304,000.0062016-05Rationality improvement/effective altruism/movement growthhttps://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-sparcNick Beckstead Donation process: According to https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-sparc#Our_process "Nick Beckstead, our Program Officer for Scientific Research, spoke with members of SPARC’s staff regarding its program, finances, and future plans."

Intended use of funds (category): Direct project expenses

Intended use of funds: Grant of $137,000 in 2016 and $167,000 in 2017 to support the Summer Program on Applied Rationality and Cognition (SPARC). "SPARC is a two-week summer program for high school students. Students selected to participate in the program typically show exceptional ability in mathematics, with many scoring highly among US participants in national or international math competitions."

Donor reason for selecting the donee: According to https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-sparc#Case_for_the_grant "we believe the program is strong, with the potential to have a substantial impact. [...] SPARC attracts unusually talented students. [...] we think very highly of several of the instructors who work at SPARC, some of whom also show strong interest in effective altruism."

Donor reason for donating that amount (rather than a bigger or smaller amount): According to https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-sparc#Budget_and_room_for_more_funding "SPARC’s total budget was approximately $90,000 in 2015. This grant will allow it to cover alumni events, travel reimbursement, unexpected contingencies, and some of the expenses associated with hiring a full-time logistics manager, as well as half of the salary and benefits for the new logistics manager, with the other half paid out of CFAR’s general budget. Our understanding is that the two years of support provided by this grant will be sufficient to enable SPARC to hire the new logistics manager and that a third year of support would not materially affect SPARC’s planning."

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Grant made shortly before SPARC 2016, and timing likely chosen so that the grant could be used for SPARC 2016
Intended funding timeframe in months: 24

Donor thoughts on making further donations to the donee: The grant page section https://www.openphilanthropy.org/giving/grants/center-applied-rationality-sparc#Key_questions_for_follow-up lists follow-up questions that Open Phil is interested in understanding better for the future Announced: 2016-07-07.