EA Angel Group: Applications Open for Personal/Project Funding

post by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-19T18:29:32.777Z · score: 37 (24 votes) · EA · GW · 31 comments

Contents

  Applying for a Grant
  Our Applicant-Friendly and Funder-Friendly Grant System
    Sharing Opportunities with Funders
    Rolling Applications
    Providing Updates and Feedback to Grant Applications
  Additional Opportunities
None
31 comments

Applying for a Grant

The EA Angel Group [EA · GW] is a group of individual donors in EA that are interested in providing funding for early-stage high-impact activities. We accept applications across all cause areas. We do not have a strict cutoff for the size of the project that is applying or the amount of money requested, although each donor generally has the ability to make one or more grants a year in the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars range, so grants in that range are most likely to be funded. Multiple angels can work together to fund a larger grant request, and applicants can choose to have their application shared with other EA funding organizations.

Apply here: https://goo.gl/forms/kW3g8THA7fVUrr4h2

Our Applicant-Friendly and Funder-Friendly Grant System

Our grant application system attempts to address three main problems in the early-stage EA funding landscape: funders hiding opportunities from other funders, not letting people apply for funding during certain times of the year, and not providing applicants with updates or feedback on their application.

Sharing Opportunities with Funders

Venture capitalists in the for-profit sector hide investment opportunities from others for personal monetary gain. EA grantmakers have no such reason for hiding funding opportunities from other experienced funders. Therefore, I believe that EA grantmakers such as EA Grants, BERI Grants, and the EAF Fund should all use a shared central application so that each funder can discover and fund promising opportunities that they otherwise may not have encountered.

To improve opportunity discovery among funders, our application system is designed to support easy sharing of our applications with external funders. We use an opt-out system to encourage applicants to agree to have their application shared and we will proactively reach out to EA funders to encourage application sharing. We hope this is a first step towards greater application sharing and perhaps a central application among funders.

Rolling Applications

Similarly to the problem of not sharing opportunities with other funders, we believe EA funders should not have application rounds that close, sometimes for large parts of the year and sometimes with great uncertainty about when they will open again. This causes funders to potentially miss out on promising opportunities. Our grant application will remain open year round and our angels will review grant applications year round so that we can discover, evaluate, and fund as many high-impact opportunities as possible.

To make sure funding opportunities are up to date and increase awareness of our grant application, we are considering the concept of having grant windows. Grant windows may correspond to each quarter of the year (January–March, April–June, July–September, October–December). Applications during more recent grant windows would be considered more up to date and as such would receive more attention. We could announce new grant windows so that awareness of our grant application remains high throughout the year.

Providing Updates and Feedback to Grant Applications

Feedback can be highly valuable to grant applicants because it helps them understand potential issues with their proposal and how to address those issues in the eyes of evaluators. The EA Angel Group has historically provided all applicants with updates on their application and feedback on their proposal by summarizing and anonymizing the main points of angel discussion (if there is any, in some cases angels might rapidly evaluate a project without writing up their thoughts).

Additional Opportunities

Become an angel: We are seeking effective altruists that are prepared to spend significant time and money to evaluate and fund early-stage grants. If this sounds like you or someone you know, please direct yourself or your contacts to this angel application form: https://goo.gl/forms/WCt7hC9IuMJJT3qZ2

Provide high impact projects with funding without evaluating grants yourself: If you are interested in providing funding for promising early-stage projects in EA and have our angels/evaluators do the work of sourcing, evaluating, and providing post-grant support to projects, please get in touch with us about donating. Also, please let us know if you’re interested in supporting our internal initiatives such as promoting a common application among funders and making personal and project grants tax deductible [EA · GW].

Volunteer for us: We may have opportunities available for volunteers that would like to help with sourcing and evaluating grant opportunities. Please get in touch if you’re interested!

31 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Jonas Vollmer · 2019-03-22T14:43:03.463Z · score: 32 (14 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

When long-termist grant applications don't get funded, the reason usually isn't lack of funding, but one of the following:

  • The grantmaker was unable to vet the project (due to time constraints or lack of domain expertise) or at least thought it was a better fit for a different grantmaker.
  • The grantmaker thought the project came with a high risk of accidental harm.

This post contains great ideas for resolving the former point, but doesn't demonstrate high awareness of the latter concern. Awareness of these risks seems important to me, especially for funders: High-quality grant applications tend to get funded quickly and are thereby eliminated from the pool of proposals available to the EA community, while applicants with higher-risk proposals tend to apply/pitch to lots of funders. This means that on average, proposals submitted to funders will be skewed towards high-downside-risk projects, and funders could themselves easily do harm if they end up supporting many of them. I'd be interested in your thoughts on that.

I really like that you're providing feedback to applicants! In general, I wish the EA community was more proactive with providing critical feedback.

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-22T19:55:47.134Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

This post was intended as a grant application announcement post that also happened to contain some information about new funder-friendly and applicant-friendly policies we are adopting. I did not include any information about our evaluation process or risk reduction process in the body of the post, so I would not expect the post to convey high awareness of either reasons why long-termist applications don't get funded.

I am curious what ideas we included you think address your first point about grantmakers being unable to vet the project. I'm not sure if application sharing, rolling applications, or providing feedback to grant applicants address your first or second points.

To elaborate more on risk, I wrote in another comment on this post that:

We have several layers of checks to help reduce risks and improve grant decision making including initial staff review of incoming applications, angels sharing their evaluations with one another and talking with external contacts/experts if appropriate, and hearing opinions of external grantmakers on grant applications we have received (we still need to talk with grantmakers to set this up).

I think that an initial staff review can help detect risks, and if we notice a large problem with downside risk in incoming projects, we can enhance the initial staff review process. The angel evaluation period is where a lot of nuanced considerations about risk can come up, since angels can share their perspectives on a grant proposal with other angels and external experts, and we have angels with significant experience in areas like meta and AI. Finally, this wasn't mentioned in the post, but we are aiming to share evaluations both ways with funders in EA. I think this can go a long way towards making all funders aware of all of the potential risks of a project.

Angels in the group seem to actively avoid funding projects that they feel they are not qualified to evaluate. Angels can point out funding behavior that they perceive is risky from other angels, although from what I've seen, our angels lean more on the side of risk avoidance than anything else.

High-quality grant applications tend to get funded quickly and are thereby eliminated from the pool of proposals available to the EA community, while applicants with higher-risk proposals tend to apply/pitch to lots of funders. This means that on average, proposals submitted to funders will be skewed towards high-downside-risk projects, and funders could themselves easily do harm if they end up supporting many of them. I'd be interested in your thoughts on that.

As Denise mentioned [EA(p) · GW(p)] in a post on Jan's project evaluation idea, there is a category of project that is "projects which are simply bad because they do have approximately zero impact, but aren't particularly risky. I think this category is the largest of the the four." This lines up with many of the applications I am seeing. This might be different with long-term/x-risk projects specifically, but since we are a general funding group with individual EA funders with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, we are not receiving a large number of such applications relative to the entire pool of applications.

Therefore, I wouldn't say that our applications are likely to be "skewed towards high-downside-risk projects." I expect to continue to receive a large number of projects that may have very low impact just like other funders are likely receiving. As Oliver mentioned [EA(p) · GW(p)], "in practice I think people will have models that will output a net-positive impact or a net-negative impact, depending on certain facts that they have uncertainty about, and understanding those cruxes and uncertainties is the key thing in understanding whether a project will be worth working on." I think that other EA funders will fund projects that match the model of the funders, but because people's models differ wildly and are very likely wrong in many cases due to the high failure rate of funded startups for the most successful VCs, I don't know if other funders are actually funding a significant fraction of the opportunities that end up having the highest impact.

To my understanding EA Grants is the only other funder that is funding general grants, with BERI Grants and EAF Fund focusing on long-term projects exclusively, and the EA Funds focusing on their respective areas and funding larger organizations as well. Since EA Grants is currently closed for applications (I support rolling applications rather than application rounds), we are receiving applications that have not been funded by other funders because the only other funder isn't accepting applications right now. Since I support funder application sharing, with this method funders will be able to see the entire pool of proposals, rather than the pool without the projects other funders have funded. This will help each funder evaluate the quality of the projects they are funding relative to the quality of other projects that other funders have funded.

I really like that you're providing feedback to applicants! In general, I wish the EA community was more proactive with providing critical feedback.

Thanks! I completely agree.

comment by Jonas Vollmer · 2019-03-22T20:04:29.099Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the thorough response! I think I agree with what you said, and I think the process you mentioned seems adequate to address the risks (if implemented well).

My perception is that application sharing could help address vetting constraints because it allows other funders (who may have more expertise in a particular area) to help with vetting. I think other funders probably don't have rolling applications because of the increased effort this entails, so in that sense rolling applications can also help resolve vetting constraints.

comment by Ruth Freiling · 2019-03-20T20:43:19.380Z · score: 23 (12 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I saw four down-votes for this article when I opened it. Wow. This is really not encouraging, folks! Not that I wouldn't understand a critical perspective on this approach. But when someone sees a writing without any up-vote, then making down-votes has to me a taste of silencing, and nothing of engaging in a constructive debate (as also this is the first comment).

I value this write up and the constructive idea, as I relate especially with the impression that there are too many differed EA funding platforms, and too little transparency about what projects are out there, what is funded, and what isn't and why. All the different grants and funding opportunities happening on different times with different forum posts and different application forms linking each other into a bureaucratic labyrinth - to me it is hard to believe that this system is most effective or actually supporting the most effective initiatives. And with that I don't want to discourage all the valuable work that people put into trying to find the best possible structures to direct funding. I am sure that there are very good reasons that led to this development. But why so much down-vote of a constructive idea? Please people, share your intent behind this. Or try to be more constructive and encouraging about alternative, bold ideas, even if you don't believe in them. Otherwise brave, alternative ideas might die out.

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-21T02:42:42.591Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ruth! I agree, I was surprised both by the negative votes and also by the lack of comments, particularly since our original article announcing the EA Angel Group was received quite positively. I linked to the EA Forum Post introducing the EA Angel Group at the beginning of the article. I felt that if people had thoughts or concerns with the idea of the angel group they could comment or vote on the original angel group article, but the article had no new votes or comments.

Regarding the many different funding systems and separate application forms that currently exist across EA, I wholeheartedly agree with your perspective. Simplifying a bit, if we assume there are 3 EA funders and 15 EA projects and each funder's application captures an equal fraction of all projects, each funder can only make funding decisions from their pool of 5 projects rather than the 15 projects that exist. Choosing the best projects to fund out of a smaller set of projects that are randomly selected out of a larger pool seems clearly suboptimal.

comment by remmelt · 2019-03-20T22:03:25.040Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

+1 Something I could imagine being the case is that people reacted wanting to downvote after seeing this paragraph:

Rather than hiding opportunities from other funders like venture capitalists in the for-profit world, I believe that EA funders such as EA Grants, BERI Grants, and the EAF Fund should all use a shared central application so that each funder can discover and fund promising opportunities that they otherwise may not have encountered.

A possible concern people who downvoted might have is that if e.g. a venture capital funder can have free access to all applications within the EA community while being new to it they might try to e.g. fund something complex like national efffective altruism groups where they don’t understand well of how the organisers on the ground are communicating certain ideas (e.g. cause prioritisation for career planning). This might end up leading them to overconfidently fund initiatives that shouldn’t be funded.

Jargon association spray: unilateralist’s curse, reputational risks, founder’s effects, platforms fragmentation, Schelling points.

But that’s just a guess and I don’t really know. I do share in the sentiment that the option to downvote something is too easy for people who pattern-match abstract EA ideas like that, instead of putting in the somewhat strenuous and vulnerable work of sharing their impressions and asking further in the comment section about how the platform concretely works.

@Brendon, I thought you tried to address possible risks of a making applications available online in a previous post.

How do you think right now about how to address funder blindspots in built-up knowledge and evaluation frameworks – for both established EA grantmakers and new venture capitalist-style funders (who might have valuable for-profit start-up experience to build on)?

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-21T03:07:02.422Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Bringing up that possible concern is a good point Remmelt! My paragraph was specifically suggesting that established EA funders should share applications with one another. As I mentioned in my comment to Ruth, if the application systems of 5 funders capture equal fractions of all projects in existence, each funder would only be able to make funding decisions with a pool of projects that is 1/5 the size of the total number of opportunities. Arbitrarily limiting the pool of projects to evaluate seems clearly suboptimal.

I agree that people may be concerned about inexperienced EA funders making unwise funding decisions. People with that concern should actually be supporting the EA Angel Group, because if they had read our introductory article or my recent [EA(p) · GW(p)] comment [EA(p) · GW(p)] about this they may have realized that:

the EA Angel Group [EA · GW] [has] an initial staff review of projects followed by funders sharing their evaluations of projects with each other to eliminate the possibility of one funder funding something while not being aware of the opinion of other funders.

We help individual funders of all experience levels avoid issues like the unilateralist’s curse by benefiting from the perspectives of other funders. Funders can point out potential risks or downsides of a project and strongly warn each other against funding a project that appears to have a material chance of causing significant harm.

But that’s just a guess and I don’t really know. I do share in the sentiment that the option to downvote something is too easy for people who pattern-match abstract EA ideas like that, instead of putting in the somewhat strenuous and vulnerable work of sharing their impressions and asking further in the comment section about how the platform concretely works.

It is unfortunate that people may be downvoting without engaging in what is actually being proposed. I think that asking good questions or commenting is far better for everyone involved than giving a strong downvote based on a quick impression (possibly wiping out several standard upvotes) and leaving.

@Brendon, I thought you tried to address possible risks of a making applications available online in a previous post.

That is correct, I wrote about that in my post about the EA Projects Platform [EA · GW], which I recently mentioned [EA(p) · GW(p)] has been indefinitely delayed. The EA Angel Group does not and was not designed to make projects available online.

How do you think right now about how to address funder blindspots in built-up knowledge and evaluation frameworks – for both established EA grantmakers and new venture capitalist-style funders (who might have valuable for-profit start-up experience to build on)?

I don't have a readily prepared analysis of addressing funder blindspots. Something that might be helpful in reducing that would be having funders share evaluations with one another, so that if one funder recognizes a potential risk that is hard to detect, other funders can factor it into consideration as well. To prevent groupthink, funders should use a process where they conduct an initial or full evaluation before seeing what other funders think about a proposal.

Can you elaborate on what a "new venture capitalist-style funder" is? I'm not sure what this refers to, I believe the EA early-stage funding space is currently made of small number of entities like EA Grants and BERI grants and a larger number of individual donors.

comment by remmelt · 2019-03-21T08:10:08.176Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, that clarifies a bunch of things for me.

I realise now I was actually confused by your sentence myself.

I took

Rather than hiding opportunities from other funders like venture capitalists in the for-profit world, I believe that EA funders such as EA Grants, BERI Grants...”

to mean

“EA Grants, BERI Grants, etc. should not hide opportunities from funders like VCs from the for profit sector”.

The rest of your article can be coherently read with that interpretation. To prevent that I’d split it into shorter sentences:

“Venture capitalists in the for-profit sector hide investment opportunities from others for personal monetary gain. EA grantmakers have no such reason for hiding funding opportunities from other experienced funders. Therefore, ...

Or at the very least, make it “Rather than hiding opportunities from other funders like venture capitalists in the for-profit world DO, I believe that...”

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-21T19:26:18.346Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for the suggestion Remmelt! I just added your primary wording recommendation to the post.

comment by Milan_Griffes · 2019-03-20T21:28:41.497Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

+1 I'm confused about why this is being downvoted.

comment by sdspikes · 2019-03-21T18:04:37.173Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

As someone who has applied for and recieved funding from BERI, the EA Community Building Fund, and the EA Meta Fund, I agree that more collaboration and communication between the various groups would be beneficial. It's been fairly unclear when to apply to which group, and I've had to answer different prompts from each. I've also run into timing issues, where I needed to make decisions about signing leases, etc before finding out if or how much I'll be receiving in grants. I've mostly dealt with this by setting up a Patreon account so that small donors can chip in on a monthly basis, but that might not make sense for others.

comment by Milan_Griffes · 2019-03-20T21:36:47.708Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Does the Angel Group accept applications for projects that will be for-profit (perhaps to be constituted as a social benefit corporation, eventually)?

comment by benjamin-pence · 2019-03-21T00:46:20.899Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Definitely

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-21T02:21:00.792Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Our main objective is to fund the highest impact projects regardless of form. We have historically received several applications from EAs working on projects that are structured as for-profit entities.

comment by SoerenMind · 2019-03-20T21:50:43.484Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

What sort of decision timeline can applicants expect? The existing opportunities are often slow compared to e.g. VC funding which is bad for planning.

comment by benjamin-pence · 2019-03-21T17:55:02.517Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Historically, approximately every 3 weeks we've apprised applicants of what the shape of the conversation is on their proposal among the angels. The applicant can then provide additional details if they think it will inform the internal conversation.

If the conversation seems to have stopped, then we inform the applicant of the low likelihood of their receiving a grant, although we haven't enforced a strict turnaround time in the past since each angel donor could have a different cadence for donating e.g. "At the end of each quarter, I give out 25% of my annual donations to the most promising project(s)."

comment by remmelt · 2019-03-21T09:45:49.488Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Been messaging with Brendon and others. I thought I’d copy-paste the – hopefully – non-inflammatory / personal parts of the considerations I last wrote about last so we can continue having collaborative truth-seeking discussions on those here as well.

To Brendon

I would clearly keep stating that you’re focused on funding early start-ups in the pilot/testing stages who are working with clearly delineated minimum viable target groups.

That cuts out a bunch of a funding categories like funding AI safety researchers, funding biotech work, or funding entire established national EA groups, and I think that’s good! (actually [...], the [...] from EA Netherlands might not like me saying that...anyway)

Those are things people at EA Grants, EA Community Building Grants, EA Funds or OpenPhil (of course!) might be focused on right now.

The Community Building Grant has some definite problems in the limited time they have to assess and give feedback to national and regional EA organisers, and their restrictive career plan changes criteria. Harri from CEA and I had a productive conversation about [that] [...] But in my opinion funding by the Angel Group there should focus on specific projects for specific target groups by the organisers. I think national and local group members should play a more active role in sharing feedback on how much the organisers work has helped them come to better reflected decisions for doing good and stick to them – and offer funding to extend the organisers’ runway. Which I hope makes it clear what kind of area I see the crowdfunding platform Heroes & Friends come in.”

And in the WhatsApp group exploring that crowdfunding platform:

On specialisation between funders

@[...], I think it’s important for funding platforms and grantmakers to clearly communicate what they’re specialised in a few paragraphs.

Especially:

  • scope in terms of cause/skill intersections
  • brightspots (funding area where their batting rate is high)
  • blindspots (where they miss promising funding opportunities, i.e. false negatives)
  • traps (failure modes of how they conduct their processes)

[added later: To “traps”, I should also add failure modes that grantmakers could see other, less experienced funders running into (so a newcomer funder can plan e.g. a Skype call with the grantmaker around that)]

This is something most grantmakers in the EA community are doing a pisspoor job at right now IMO (e.g. see our earlier Messenger exchange on online communication of EA Funds).

There’s a lot of progress to be made there. I expect building consensus around funding scopes and specialisation will significantly reduce the distractions and fracturing of groups we might each add to with scaling up the Angel Group or [possibly] collaborating with Heroes & Friends.

I’ve tried to clearly delineate with you guys what EA RELEASE (for lack of a better name for now) would be about.

Regarding the Angel Group, here is the suggestion I just shared with Brendon: [...]

comment by vaidehi_agarwalla · 2019-03-26T14:51:19.892Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)
This is something most grantmakers in the EA community are doing a pisspoor job at right now IMO (e.g. see our earlier Messenger exchange on online communication of EA Funds).

Could you link to this exchange or expand on this point more?

comment by remmelt · 2019-03-21T11:00:55.100Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Better description of grantmaker’s Scope: the ‘problem-skills intersections’ they focus on evaluating. Staff of funds should share these with other larger funders, and publish summaries of them on their websites.

comment by Milan_Griffes · 2019-03-20T21:37:57.703Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

What's the distinction between the "EA Angel Group" brand and the "altruism.vc" brand?

comment by benjamin-pence · 2019-03-21T00:45:33.966Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Altruism.vc is the umbrella name we chose for our efforts on early-stage project grant making in general.

The EA Angel Group is our first endeavor, supporting individuals making large donations to early-stage EA projects.

comment by Milan_Griffes · 2019-03-21T17:56:46.770Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

How many grants has the Angel Group paid out to date? What is the total size of all grants made to date?

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-21T19:19:39.732Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

According to information that we requested from angels around our launch [EA · GW] in October 2018, our individual funders had ~$600,000 in available capital to make early-stage grants for the remainder of 2018. Angels have been making grants during the time the group has been operating, although I am not sure of the exact volume aside from the fact that one angel recently made a grant of ~$25,000 to a project.

I am not sure of the exact volume because angels have not made a grant through a project that has submitted our grant application form yet. This is because we had lower than expected grant application volume since we were unexpectedly [EA(p) · GW(p)] delayed [EA(p) · GW(p)] for [EA(p) · GW(p)] many [EA(p) · GW(p)] months [EA(p) · GW(p)] pursuing grant sharing with EA funders and trying to launch the EA Project Platform rather than doing a public call for applications and working with volunteers to source evaluations. We are now switching to doing public requests for proposals and active grant opportunity sourcing which I expect will significantly increase the number of grant opportunities we can present to angels. We are continuing to talk with EA funders about grant sharing, and one major funder just expressed an interest in sharing grant applications, so things may be moving forward on that front.

comment by Milan_Griffes · 2019-03-21T19:27:52.645Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks, Brendon.

Just to check that I understand... sounds like to date, most of the EA angels have been doing their grant-making through other channels & not reporting those grants to the Angel Group. But you expect this to change in the near future. Is that an accurate summary?

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-21T19:51:17.603Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

That is correct! The EA Angel Group is designed to help individual funders who are already making grants with discovering more opportunities and hearing from other funders about possible benefits and risks of individual funding opportunities. Many people in the angel group have been heavily involved with the EA community for many years and have a history of making successful grants. Analogous to a for-profit angel group, we do not force angels to do everything through our group, we just seek to add value in terms of helping people fund better opportunities through improving opportunity discovery, evaluation, and funding processes.

We have several layers of checks to help reduce risks and improve grant decision making including initial staff review of incoming applications, angels sharing their evaluations with one another and talking with external contacts/experts if appropriate, and hearing opinions of external grantmakers on grant applications we have received (we still need to talk with grantmakers to set this up).

comment by Alexandra · 2019-03-28T16:30:26.534Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Clarification question: What kind of 'early-stage high-impact' projects do you aim to support? Is it for-profit organisation ideas only (the examples in the application form involve a monetary ROI), or are you looking for, say, research projects or nonprofit activities as well?

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-28T18:16:28.694Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Thanks for asking! At this time we do not specifically limit the types of early-stage high-impact activities that can apply. Early-stage nonprofits, for-profits, and personal projects would all fall under the scope of acceptable activity types.

comment by remmelt · 2019-03-20T22:51:11.857Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

Another question I’m curious about: has a grantmaker from an EA-affiliated organisation you’ve been in touch with been open to the idea of sourcing ideas or incorporating applications coming in through Angel Group form? Or have they shared any worries or reservations you can share?

I think for example that a ‘just-another-universal-protocol’ worry would be very reasonable to have here. This is something I’m probably not helping with since I’m exploring an idea for a crowdfunding + feedback gathering platform for early-stage community entrepreneurs in the EA community to extend their runways (been recently in touch with Brendon on that).

To avoid that I think we need to do the hard work of reaching out to involved parties and have many conversations to incorporate their most important considerations and start mutually useful collaborations. I.e. consensus building.

comment by remmelt · 2019-03-20T23:18:40.068Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

John Maxwell wrote an analysis on your initial post on how most platform initiatives seem to fail in the EA community and that the ones that did last seemed resulted from a long stretch of consensus building (+ attentive refinement and execution in my opinion). This was useful for me to consider that more deeply as an issue in coordinating funding in the EA community. It at least led me to take smaller, tentative steps to trying things out while incorporating the advice/goals/perspectives/needs of people with deep understandings of aspects or a clear stake in using the final product.

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/io6yLz6GtF6kvXt99/ideas-for-improving-funding-for-individual-eas-ea-projects#48ReFmNG5Zf3yhwk9 [EA(p) · GW(p)]

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-22T07:23:23.213Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

John Maxwell brought up some interesting points. He suggests that platforms can experience the chicken and egg problem when it comes to getting started, and that intensive networking is a way to overcome this issue. I agree that platforms often have this problem, but the EA Angel Group resolved this not by networking intensely but instead by offering a lot of value to angels. This would incentivize them to join the platform even without a large number of existing grant applicants which would in turn incentivize grant applicants to apply.

Of course, we do need a stream of incoming grant applications to remain viable, and unfortunately we encountered some unexpected issues [EA(p) · GW(p)] when attempting to collaborate with EA Grants and speak to many community members as part of several strategies to acquire grant applications. As mentioned in my progress update comment, I am currently pursuing alternate strategies to achieve this objective which involve steps that I have greater control over (and less steps that require the approval of entities whose decisions I cannot influence). That being said, I think networking and collaboration is highly valuable, and am scaling that up even as I pursue strategies that do not require networking to succeed.

comment by Brendon_Wong · 2019-03-22T07:04:47.552Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA(p) · GW(p)

I wrote a progress update [EA(p) · GW(p)] comment [EA(p) · GW(p)] regarding the EA Angel Group which covered our grant opportunity discovery activities over the last few months. We spoke with EA Grants several months ago, and to the best of my knowledge they are still determining whether to send and receive grant applications with other funders. At least one major funding group has expressed significant interest in sending and receiving grant applications with the EA Angel Group, and we are in the process of talking with various funders about this.

I mentioned the one concern I heard and my response to it in my progress update comment:

One objection to sharing grant applications among funders is that a funder would fund all of the grant proposals they felt were good and classify all other grant proposals as not suitable to be funded. From the funder's perspective, sharing the unfunded grant proposals would be bad since other organizations could subsequently fund them, and the funder classified those grant proposals as not worth funding. I personally disagree with this objection because the argument assumes that a funder has developed a grant evaluation process that can actually identify successful projects with a high degree of accuracy. Since the norm in the for-profit world involves large and successful venture capital firms with lots of experienced domain experts regularly passing on opportunities that later become multibillion-dollar companies, I find it unlikely that any EA funding organization will develop a grant evaluation process that is so good it justifies hiding some or all unfunded applications.

Can you elaborate on:

I think for example that a ‘just-another-universal-protocol’ worry would be very reasonable to have here.

Are you suggesting that funders may be concerned about adopting a protocol which ends up providing limited value? As I've stated in several other comments, I think sharing grant applications can be of considerable value since arbitrarily limiting the pool of projects seems pretty suboptimal.

To avoid that I think we need to do the hard work of reaching out to involved parties and have many conversations to incorporate their most important considerations and start mutually useful collaborations. I.e. consensus building.

I agree. I did some initial outreach at first and will begin additional outreach shortly.