The Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund aims to increase the impact of projects that use the principles of effective altruism, by increasing their access to talent, capital, and knowledge.
The EA Infrastructure Fund was formerly named the EA Meta Fund. See our EA Forum post for more information.
The Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund recommends grants that aim to improve the work of projects that use the principles of effective altruism, by increasing their access to talent, capital, and knowledge. While the other three Funds support direct work on various causes, this Fund supports work that could multiply the impact of direct work, including projects that provide intellectual infrastructure for the effective altruism community, run events, disseminate information, or fundraise for effective charities. This will be achieved by supporting projects that:
- Directly increase the number of people who are exposed to principles of effective altruism, or develop, refine or present such principles
- Support the recruitment of talented people who can use their skills to make progress on important problems
- Aim to build a global community of people who use principles of effective altruism as a core part of their decision-making process when deciding how they can have a positive impact on the world
- Conduct research into prioritizing between or within different cause areas
- Raise funds or otherwise support other highly-effective projects
- Improve community health by promoting healthy norms for interaction and discourse, or assist in resolving grievances
This includes a broad range of projects in global wellbeing (including animal welfare), longtermism, as well as cause-general work.
About the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund
The Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund (EA Infrastructure Fund) recommends grants that aim to improve the work of projects using principles of effective altruism, by increasing their access to talent, capital, and knowledge.
The EA Infrastructure Fund has historically attempted to make strategic grants to incubate and grow projects that attempt to use reason and evidence to do as much good as possible. These include meta-charities that fundraise for highly effective charities doing direct work on important problems, research organizations that improve our understanding of how to do good more effectively, and projects that promote principles of effective altruism in contexts like academia.
The EA Infrastructure Fund was formerly named the Effective Altruism Meta Fund.
Grantmaking and Impact
The EA Infrastructure Fund has recommended several million dollars worth of grants, to a range of organizations, including:
80,000 Hours aims to solve the world’s most pressing problems by getting more talented people working on them. To do this, they carry out research into how talented individuals can maximize the impact of their careers, produce online advice, identify readers who might be able to enter priority areas, and provide these readers with free in-person advice and connections to mentors, job openings and funding. For a more in-depth look at their impact, check out the Open Philanthropy Project evaluation of 80,000 Hours.
The Forethought Foundation works towards building an academic research field for global priorities in economics and philosophy. It aims to promote academic work that addresses the question of how to use our scarce resources to improve the world as much as possible, with a focus on long-termism — the idea that the primary determinant of the value of our actions today is their effects on the very long-run future. The Fund team believe that academia is an excellent means of distributing important and impactful reasoning from very far upstream
Founders Pledge encourages founders and investors to sign a legally binding pledge to donate a percentage of their personal exit proceeds to charity. Once the pledge is realized, Founders Pledge supports pledgers to decide where to give in order to have the most positive impact. Founders Pledge has raised over $1.9bn in pledges since 2013, and successfully moved nearly $2m to EA priority causes.
Support for grassroots effective altruism community projects
Building a community of people who make principles of effective altruism a core part of their lives means that more people will be applying their resources towards solving the world’s most pressing problems. The Fund has supported a range of grassroots organizations, both directly (e.g. EA Sweden, EA Norway), and through programs like CEA’s Community Building Grants programs, which provides support for local effective altruism groups.
For more information, please check the full list of the EA Infrastructure Fund’s Payout Reports.
Why donate to this Fund?
Choosing to give to highly effective charities can greatly increase the positive impact of your donations. ‘Infrastructure’ refers to the idea that creating additional resources and support to projects aiming to improve the world can multiply this impact.
Donating to improve the infrastructure available to effective projects (instead of to the projects carrying out this work directly) is sometimes called 'meta charity'.
Three of the best opportunities to multiply impact (of which we are currently aware) are through improving the quality and quantity of talent, information and capital available to solve the world’s biggest problems.
One of the most important factors in making progress towards solving the highest priority issues is the talent working on those issues. Some highly effective organizations are more talent-constrained than they are capital-constrained. In such cases, hiring the right talent is even more important than raising additional capital. Because of this, funding organizations that support and encourage talented people to work on high priority issues can significantly multiply the impact of your donation.
Choosing a high-impact cause area is often the most important driver of impact. Prioritization research could change our perception of a cause area or reveal promising new funding opportunities. As a result of research findings, many more donations may be directed to high-impact funding opportunities, meaning that the impact of a donation to fund the research itself would be multiplied.
Say that a $100,000 donation to a highly effective direct intervention can be used to save the lives of 15 people. Then imagine that a $100,000 donation to a meta charity that drives capital to that highly effective direct intervention is used to raise $1,000,000 more in donations. Assuming no diminishing returns, these donations can be used to save the lives of 150 people. In this example, exactly the same donation would be 10 times more effective when donated to the meta organization. (Note that this is a hypothetical to illustrate the concept, and that, in practice, estimates of these multipliers will be subject to substantial margins of error.)
Past meta initiatives have achieved sizable success, such as 80,000 Hours, GiveWell or Founders Pledge. With reasonably high confidence, we can say that donations to these organizations have caused significantly more resources to be invested in the highest priority areas than would have occurred through direct donations.
This said, finding and vetting meta opportunities can be both challenging and time-consuming.
- The most intuitive meta donation options (that require the least vetting by potential donors), such as funding GiveWell’s operations, are often fully funded. Funding opportunities for these groups often appear only briefly and for specific projects.
- Although there are a large number of early-stage opportunities, careful evaluation is required to identify the most credible and high-quality projects that demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of effectiveness principles.
- Meta initiatives can be particularly challenging to evaluate and their stated metrics can require significant interpretation. Taking into account attribution, probability and discounting is important both quantitatively, when data is available, and qualitatively, when it is not.
- Evaluating the team and leadership of a meta project requires context, experience and often a significant time commitment.
Why you might choose not to donate to this Fund
We think it’s important that donors are well informed when they donate to EA Funds. As such, we think it’s useful to think about the reasons that you might choose to donate elsewhere.
You don’t agree with the rationale for the Fund, or the views of the Fund management team
The main reason you might choose not to donate to this fund is if you do not agree with the views of the fund management team. For example, you may not be convinced of the arguments in favour of supporting meta charities, or you may want to donate only to a select subset of meta charities. In particular, you may prefer that your money go directly toward helping others, with as little ambiguity as possible.
You have concerns about conflicts of interest or grantmaker independence
All members of the fund management team are actively involved in the effective altruism community and have both professional and personal relationships with many of those working at meta organizations that may receive grants from this fund. Nick Beckstead (an advisor to the Fund) is a member of the Centre for Effective Altruism's board.
The Centre for Effective Altruism, which manages EA Funds (including product, website and financial infrastructure), works to build the effective altruism community and has received grants from this fund.
EA Infrastructure Fund FAQ
How do I make a donation using EA Funds?
You can donate to any of the EA Funds by following this link, or clicking the blue button at the top of each Fund’s page.
First, choose the Funds or organizations you would like to make a donation to. You can choose up to 10 Funds/organizations as part of a single allocation.
If you are donating to more than one Fund/organization you'll need to choose how to split your donation between them. By default, all the sliders will be split equally between the Funds/organizations you've chosen. To change this, simply drag the sliders around until you have the allocation you want.
What is the risk profile of the EA Infrastructure Fund?
The EA Infrastructure Fund makes donations to a range of different interventions. Some of these are likely to be higher-risk, but potentially higher-return opportunities. The nature of the space means that impact may be less certain, and some projects are new, and may not yet have a long track record. Overall, we classify the Fund as 'medium' risk.
How often does the EA Infrastructure Fund make grants?
The EA Infrastructure Fund makes grants on the regular EA Funds grantmaking schedule, with recommendations made in February, July, and November each year.
Why donate to the EA Infrastructure Fund instead of donating directly to individual organizations?
Expert team with a strong track record
Sourcing and evaluating any effective charity is complex and time-consuming for individual donors. Doing the same for meta charities is typically even more challenging. This fund is managed by a team of experts with over 25 years’ combined experience researching and donating to meta organizations. The team has a strong network across the effective altruism community, which is extremely valuable in identifying and evaluating new opportunities. All team members have a track record of being early donors to promising opportunities such as the Centre for Effective Altruism and 80,000 Hours.
Due diligence and context
While meta organizations can offer very promising opportunities for impact, some projects may take too many risks and could potentially cause lasting damage to the brand of effective altruism. Due diligence and sufficient context are highly important. The expert team offers donors extensive and valuable experience in assessing meta projects and identifying potential risks.
An aspirational aim of the fund is to use the team’s knowledge and experience to support donors to learn more about EA meta organizations and expand their giving in this area. The fund will publish triannual updates on capital distributions and the reasoning behind the grants made.
Save charities' time
Donors often take up large amounts of time for senior management at charities. While there are benefits to these interactions up to a point, beyond that it can become an excessive cost to the team. By donating together, we can work more efficiently and reduce this effect.
Will the EA Infrastructure Fund make grants to the Centre for Effective Altruism or related projects?
EA Funds is a project of the Centre for Effective Altruism (CEA), a registered non-profit which aims to build a strong effective altruism community. As such, it is a potential recipient of funding from the EA Infrastructure Fund.
The Centre for Effective Altruism has previously been granted funding from the EA Infrastructure Fund, both as unrestricted funding for general operations, as well as restricted funding for specific projects, in particular its EA Community Building Grants program. CEA may be a recipient of grants in the future. In addition, the Fund has granted to independent projects that are legally part of the Centre for Effective Altruism, including 80,000 Hours and the Forethought Foundation, and may do so in the future.
The EA Infrastructure Fund management team is independent of CEA, and CEA goes through the normal, public application procedure when applying for grants. Potential conflicts of interest are governed by the EA Funds Conflict of Interest policy, and Fund managers who are closely associated with potential grant recipients are required to recuse themselves from advocating for grants.
Can I apply for funding to the EA Infrastructure Fund?
The EA Infrastructure Fund accepts applications for funding. Please submit your application by using the link below.
For more information about EA Funds in general, see our FAQ page.