Our Grantmaking Principles
Our goal is for every grant we recommend to help as many individuals as possible, as much as possible, counting everyone equally — including future generations. We are truth-seeking, far-sighted, risk-neutral, and informed by the best available evidence.
The following principles motivate our work:
- Radical impartiality: We believe that every individual counts equally — including members of future generations. If we act wisely today, future generations will contain the lives of almost everyone who will ever live. And yet future generations are systematically disenfranchised in our world today. This is why they are the focus of our work.
- Intellectual honesty: We are transparent in our reasoning and communicate our assumptions, evidence, and uncertainties clearly. We never tell our donors simply what we think they want to hear.
- Hits-based giving: Inspired by venture capital, we seek to uncover neglected opportunities with high-reward potential. Over the long-run, if we can match even one of the biggest philanthropic success stories of the twentieth century, our efforts will have paid off.
- Win-win scenarios: Many of the issues we aim to tackle, from climate change to safe AI to nuclear war, pose a serious threat to the world today. Work to protect future generations often benefits the current generation as well.
- A scientific mindset: We are informed by the latest research from the natural and social sciences. We work to quantify our impact insofar as wisdom allows, and act on the best available balance of evidence.
Mapping promising areas
We begin with high-level research into which fields might hold the most promising opportunities for doing good. We prioritise problems that:
1. Would have a huge impact if solved
2. We’re able to make progress on quickly, and
3. Are currently neglected.
Then we identify sub-fields in which further funding can make the most substantial progress towards solving the problem. For example, even before COVID-19, we sought out immunisation technology projects working on faster approaches to vaccine production, due to their unusual tractability for stopping pandemics.
Our work to identify promising areas is done by our in-house team in conjunction with experts in relevant fields. We are advised by experts who lead some of the largest foundations, hold high government office, and publish cutting-edge science.
Our grant investigation process begins with a longlist of especially high-impact projects from our in-house research team and our expert network. We take the most promising of these and identify the key information we’d need to recommend a grant.
Investigations seek to answer these questions early on:
- What will the biggest effects of this grant be?
- What are the key premises behind the case for the grant?
- What would happen counterfactually, if we did not recommend funding for this grant?
- What are the grantee’s strengths and weaknesses?
- How competent are the key people we’re betting on?
- How should we think about the cost-effectiveness of this grant?
- What is the track record of this kind of work?
- Why might this grant fail?
- What are the downsides or risks of this grant?
Then, in the second part of the investigation, we decide whether to recommend the grant, by resolving all of the previously identified questions and anything else that comes up. Follow-up questions include:
- What new information came up from the first part of the investigation?
- What questions about the grant remain open?
- What is the finalised budget of this grant?
- What concrete predictions would we make about this grant’s effects?
If, at the end of the two-stage investigation process, at least two members of our team regard the granting opportunity as exceptional, we recommend it to the philanthropists we advise.
Recommending to philanthropists
We explain our reasoning for recommending a grant clearly and thoroughly in a written report. We provide an executive summary of our recommendation, with a focus on the path to impact. We explain key premises and evidence that make up the case for the grant. For full transparency, we also provide the best case against each grant, specifying what we’re uncertain about and why we’re recommending it regardless. We also include quantitative predictions, so that philanthropists can clearly see what we expect in terms of key outcomes, and how likely we think they are. Finally, we include our plan for monitoring and reporting the grant’s progress, so that philanthropists know how we’ll track what actually gets achieved.
Once grant recommendations are approved, we follow best practices in grants management to ensure that funds can be transferred in a timely manner to support the recommended project. This includes thorough due diligence, including investigating the organisation’s existing governance structure, confirming that the organisation is registered with the relevant regulatory body, and seeking information about significant upcoming organisational changes. We then work with donors internationally who use a variety of financial configurations, such as foundations and donor-advised funds, or we make a transfer from the Longview Philanthropy Fund. Once the grantee has received the funds, they sign a confirmation of receipt letter and agree to respond to any follow-ups conducted by either the donor or Longview Philanthropy staff.
Follow-up and reporting
After the grant has been made, we conduct regular check-ins with our grantees. At each check-in, we thoroughly investigate the following questions:
- Has the grant made the world better? How?
- How has the grant performed relative to our expectations?
- Has this grant caused us to update our views on this grantmaking area or type of work?
- Would we make this grant again?
- Should we consider renewing the grant during the next funding cycle?
When we renew grants, we conduct a fresh investigation to determine whether we are confident that the project should continue.
Delegate your decisions to our expert grantmakers and receive semi-annual reports on our regrants, our reasoning for those grants, and programme updates.