Supporting infrastructure that impacts the charity world
Why meta charity?
We believe many charitable projects create a huge impact by working one level removed from direct impact. Often these projects cross-cut between cause areas and do not fall neatly into a box and might thus be neglected for funding. Examples of meta projects are charity evaluators like GiveWell, incubators like Charity Entrepreneurship, events like Skoll and Effective Altruism conferences, or field-building projects focused on effective giving or impactful careers.
We think the best projects in this category can compete with or exceed the most cost-effective direct work and that our community of donors is well-placed to identify and support some of these opportunities.
Who are we?
We are a small network of donors interested in meta charity as a cause area. Some of our members are funders with high net worth, and others work for or manage foundation resources. Many subscribe to Effective Altruism as a philosophy, and all members aim to do the most good they can with their resources. Meta Charity Funders have open applications for organizations that might otherwise be missed, and members meet approximately once a month to discuss funding opportunities that have come through the open application process or that they have otherwise heard about. Our members give above $100,000 to this cause area each year, and this is the expected minimum annual giving to join.
What is a funding circle?
A funding circle is a collaboration between several funders who typically target a certain cause area. One example is the Mental Health Funding Circle, which focuses on finding and funding impactful opportunities in mental health. There is no pooled funding, with each funder making their own calls but with shared information and joint application processes. Other examples include the Antimicrobial Resistance Funding Circle, Farmed Animal Funders, and Big Bang Philanthropy.
Funding circles can be a powerful way to leverage and coordinate multiple funders that share a common interest. Often a cause area will have a number of funders, but between closed application rounds, unclear standards, and disjointed networks, the funding is not organized as well as it could be. Having different funder views is important for any good funding ecosystem, but a funding circle has the added benefit of having a centralized point of contact. This means organizations can apply as if applying to a single large funder, but gain exposure to several potential funders. The structure also means that if one member of the network discovers a promising opportunity that falls outside of their scope, communication channels are open and ready for them to pass the project on to a funder who might be a better fit.
What is our mission?
Our mission is to improve the infrastructure of effective interventions and maximize impact by supporting key projects, even in their early stages.
Interested in joining our network?
We are always looking for more funders to join our network, although we try to keep the group small enough to allow easy cross-member engagement. Becoming a member means committing to a monthly meeting and a minimum of $100,000 per year of expected donations to meta charity. You will also have to do some work outside meetings, but the amount is flexible, with about one hour per month as the minimum.
People who cannot commit to regular meetings are still encouraged to apply and may be invited to our email list and gain access to our grant opportunities database.
Our simple application process for charities interested in receiving funding
We have a short application process that can get your project on the radar of a number of funders. In some cases, that will be all the information they need; in other cases, a specific funder might reach out for more information or to invite you to a deeper process. We will have a higher bar and a longer process for larger grant sizes, but our goal is to make our application process easy, usually just requiring information that an applicant has already created. As our members are doing this outside normal work, we sadly cannot commit to responding to specific questions or giving feedback. But we strive for quick and clear communication.
Interested in applying for support?
We focus our grantmaking on two rounds per year - one in the fall and one in the spring. Applications for the fall round of 2023 have now closed. We expect our next round to open in March 2024. However, you can apply using the form below at any time, and we may consider time-sensitive applications on an ongoing basis.
Please keep in mind that we are most interested in applications that have not already been substantially supported by other similar actors (e.g. the EA Infrastructure Fund or Open Philanthropy). We consider grants to both individuals and nonprofits. We expect most of our grants to range from $10,000 to $500,000 and our next round to be between $500,000 and $1.5m of total funding.
There is evidence suggesting that individuals from under-represented groups tend to underestimate their abilities. We do not want the application process to discourage potential grantees, and we encourage interested people to apply regardless of gender, race, educational background, or socioeconomic status.