Survival and Flourishing Fund donations made to Lightcone Infrastructure

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 2023. 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)Survival and Flourishing
Best overview URLhttps://survivalandflourishing.fund/
Websitehttps://survivalandflourishing.fund/
Donations URLhttps://survivalandflourishing.fund/
Twitter usernamesaf_is_tweeting
Page on philosophy informing donationshttps://survivalandflourishing.fund/
Grant application process pagehttps://survivalandflourishing.fund/
Regularity with which donor updates donations datasemiannual refresh
Regularity with which Donations List Website updates donations data (after donor update)irregular
Lag with which donor updates donations datadays
Lag with which Donations List Website updates donations data (after donor update)months
Data entry method on Donations List WebsiteManual (no scripts used)

Brief history: The Survival and Flourishing Fund started operation in the third quarter of 2019 as a way to continue the grantmaking portion of Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative (BERI) so that BERI could focus on its core mission. While SFF initially had some funds of its own to allocate, by 2021 it had spent its own funds and its main role was to run a S-process (simulation process) to help participating donors allocate their own funds, rather than SFF holding or distributing the funds. SFF has used the moniker "virtual fund" to describe itself. Participating donors have included Jaan Tallinn (the biggest donor), Jed McCaleb, and David Marble (via The Casey and Family Foundation). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWivz6KidkI has an overview of the S-process and some of SFF's history.

Brief notes on broad donor philosophy and major focus areas: SFF's general focus is "to bring financial support to organizations working to improve humanity’s long-term prospects for survival and flourishing." Three things to note: (1) "organizations": SFF makes grants to organizations; there is another organization Survival and Flourishing (SAF) that makes grants to individuals. (2) "long-term prospects": SFF's funding is mainly evaluated based on longtermist principles. (3) "survival and flourishing": the word "survival" hints at the salience given to global catastrophic risks. With that said, not all grantees may see themselves as longtermist organizations.

Notes on grant decision logistics: The first grant round (2019 Q3) was off-cycle and unusual; since then, each grant round has used a S-process (simulation process) that helps aggregate the opinions of multiple recommenders across grantees, and allows multiple funders to decide how much weight to place on each recommender. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWivz6KidkI describes the S-process in detail. The S-process-based grant rounds are run twice a year. For each grant round, applications are opened to grantees in the first quarter of the half-year and the S-process to decide the grants happens in the second quarter, usually being made public around the middle-to-end of the fifth month. The set of recommenders as well as the set of participating funders can vary between grant rounds.

Notes on grant publication logistics: The grant recommendations for each grant round are published on a page dedicated to the grant round (for instance, https://survivalandflourishing.fund/sff-2021-h2-recommendations for the second half of 2021). The full list of grant recommendations is also added to the home page, possibly with some lag. SFF does not include information on whether and when the grant was actually made; the donor Jaan Tallinn publishes information on actual grantmaking (updated annually) at https://jaan.online/philanthropy/ and this generally matches SFF's recommendations.

Notes on grant financing: In 2019 and 2020, SFF had funds of its own that it was granting via the grant rounds. Starting 2019 Q4, it also started using the grant rounds to make funding recommendations to other funders. Starting 2021 H1, it didn't have funds of its own, so it was only making recommendations to other funders, i.e., acting as a "virtual fund." Funders who have participated in SFF's grant rounds include Jaan Tallinn, Jed McCaleb, and David Marble (allocating money for The Casey and Family Foundation). Grants for each of these, including ones made via the SFF's S-process, are listed on their respective donor pages on this site.

Miscellaneous notes: In https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWivz6KidkI Andrew Critch describes the S-process in more detail. The process involves the use of marginal value functions, several rounds of discussion between recommenders, funders making a decision on the weight to allocate to each recommender, a multi-step allocation rotating between funders to avoid bystander effects and pile-on effects between funders, and funders ultimately having the final say in whether/how much to fund, with the outcome of the S-process being only a recommendation.

This entity is also a donee.

Full donor page for donor Survival and Flourishing Fund

Basic donee information

ItemValue
Country United States
Facebook page lesswrong2
Websitehttps://www.lesswrong.com/
Wikipedia pagehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LessWrong
Key peopleOliver Habryka|Ben Pace|Raymond Arnold
Launch date2017-06-18

Full donee page for donee Lightcone Infrastructure

Donor–donee relationship

Item Value

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 2 260,000 275,000 260,000 260,000 260,000 260,000 260,000 260,000 290,000 290,000 290,000 290,000 290,000
Rationality improvement 2 260,000 275,000 260,000 260,000 260,000 260,000 260,000 260,000 290,000 290,000 290,000 290,000 290,000

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 2019
Rationality improvement (filter this donor) 2 550,000.00 290,000.00 260,000.00
Total 2 550,000.00 290,000.00 260,000.00

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 documents in reverse chronological order (1 documents)

Title (URL linked)Publication dateAuthorPublisherAffected donorsAffected doneesAffected influencersDocument scopeCause areaNotes
Zvi’s Thoughts on the Survival and Flourishing Fund (SFF) (GW, IR)2021-12-14Zvi Mowshowitz LessWrongSurvival and Flourishing Fund Jaan Tallinn Jed McCaleb The Casey and Family Foundation Effective Altruism Funds:Long-Term Future Fund Center on Long-Term Risk Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters The Centre for Long-Term Resilience Lightcone Infrastructure Effective Altruism Funds: Infrastructure Fund Centre for the Governance of AI Ought New Science Research Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative AI Objectives Institute Topos Institute Emergent Ventures India European Biostasis Foundation Laboratory for Social Minds PrivateARPA Charter Cities Institute Survival and Flourishing Fund Beth Barnes Oliver Habryka Zvi Mowshowitz Miscellaneous commentaryLongtermism|AI safety|Global catastrophic risksIn this lengthy post, Zvi Mowshowitz, who was one of the recommenders for the Survival and Flourishing Fund's 2021 H2 grant round based on the S-process, describes his experience with the process, his impressions of several of the grantees, and implications for what kinds of grant applications are most likely to succeed. Zvi says that the grant round suffered from the problem of Too Much Money (TMM); there was way more money than any individual recommender felt comfortable granting, and just about enough money for the combined preferences of all recommenders, which meant that any recommender could unilaterally push a particular grantee through. The post has several other observations and attracts several comments.

Full list of donations in reverse chronological order (2 donations)

Graph of all donations, showing the timeframe of donations

Graph of donations and their timeframes
Amount (current USD)Amount rank (out of 2)Donation dateCause areaURLInfluencerNotes
290,000.0012020-06-09Rationality improvementhttps://jaan.online/philanthropy/donations.htmlSurvival and Flourishing Fund Alex Zhu Andrew Critch Jed McCaleb Oliver Habryka Donation process: Part of the Survival and Flourishing Fund's 2020 H1 grants https://survivalandflourishing.fund/sff-2020-h1-recommendations based on the S-process (simulation process). A request for grants was made at https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/wQk3nrGTJZHfsPHb6/survival-and-flourishing-grant-applications-open-until-march (GW, IR) and open till 2020-03-07. The S-process "involves allowing the Recommenders and funders to simulate a large number of counterfactual delegation scenarios using a table of marginal utility functions. Recommenders specified marginal utility functions for funding each application, and adjusted those functions through discussions with each other as the round progressed. Similarly, funders specified and adjusted different utility functions for deferring to each Recommender. In this round, the process also allowed the funders to make some final adjustments to decide on their final intended grant amounts."

Intended use of funds (category): Organizational general support

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determined by timing of grant round; this 2020 H1 round of grants is SFF's third round; the grantee had also received a grant in the first round.

Other notes: At the time, the grantee is known as LessWrong, and listed as such in the grants database. The grant round also includes grants from Jaan Tallinn ($110,000) and Jed McCaleb ($30,000) to the grantee. Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 44.61%.
260,000.0022019-09-30Rationality improvementhttps://jaan.online/philanthropy/donations.htmlAlex Flint Andrew Critch Eric Rogstad Donation process: Part of the founding batch of grants for the Survival and Flourishing Fund made in August 2019. The fund is partly a successor to part of the grants program of the Berkeley Existential Risk Initiative (BERI) that handled grantmaking by Jaan Tallinn; see http://existence.org/tallinn-grants-future/ As such, this grant to LessWrong 2.0 may represent a renewal of grants totaling $250,000 made by BERI to LessWrong 2.0 in 2018

Intended use of funds (category): Organizational general support

Donor reason for selecting the donee: This grant to LessWrong 2.0 may represent a renewal of grants totaling $250,000 made by BERI to LessWrong 2.0 in 2018.

Donor reason for donating that amount (rather than a bigger or smaller amount): This grant to LessWrong 2.0 may represent a renewal of grants totaling $250,000 made by BERI to LessWrong 2.0 in 2018.
Percentage of total donor spend in the corresponding batch of donations: 29.55%

Donor reason for donating at this time (rather than earlier or later): Timing determined by timing of grant round; the Survival and Flourishing Fund is making its first round of grants in August 2019. Also, it is likely that the timeframe previous BERI grant to LessWrong 2.0 (made September 2018) has ended.

Donor retrospective of the donation: Continued grants in future grant rounds as a result of the S-process, including https://survivalandflourishing.fund/sff-2020-h1-recommendations (2020 H1) suggest continued satisfaction with the grantee.

Other notes: Announced: 2019-08-29.