Quick thoughts on Manifund’s application to Open Philanthropy
Manifund is a new effort to improve, speed up and decentralize funding mechanisms in the broader Effective Altruism community, by some of the same people previously responsible for Manifold. Due to Manifold’s policy of making a bunch of their internal documents public, you can see their application to Open Philanthropy here (also a markdown backup here).
Here is my perspective on this:
- They have given me a $50k regranting budget. It seems plausible that this colors my thinking.
- Manifold is highly technologically competent.
- Effective Altruism Funds, which could be the closest point of comparison to Manifund, is not highly technologically competent. In particular, they have been historically tied to Salesforce, a den of mediocrity that slows speed, makes interacting with their systems annoying, and isn’t that great across any one dimension.
- Previously, Manifold blew Hypermind, a previous play-money prediction market, completely out of the water. Try browsing markets, searching markets, making a prediction on Hypermind, and then try the same thing in Manifold.
- It seems very plausible to me that Manifund could do the same thing to CEA’s Effective Altruism Funds: Create a product that is incomparably better by having a much higher technical and operational competence.
- One way to think about the cost and value of Manifund would be Δ(value of grant recipients) - Δ(costs of counterfactual funding method).
- The cost is pretty high, because Austin’s counterfactual use of his capable engineering labour is pretty valuable.
- Value is still to be determined. One way might be to compare the value of grants made in 2023 year by Manifund, EA Funds, SFF, Open Philanthropy, etc., and see if there are any clear conclusions.
- Framing this as “improving EA Funds” would slow everything down and make it more mediocre, and would make Manifund less motivated by reducing their sense of ownership, so it doesn’t make sense as a framework.
- Instead, it’s worth keeping in mind that Manifund has the option to incorporate aspects of EA funds if it so chooses—like some grantmakers, questions to prospective grantees, public reports, etc.
- Manifund also has the option of identifying and then unblocking historical bottlenecks that EA funds has had, like slow response speed, not using grantmakers who are already extremely busy, etc.
A funny thing is that Manifund itself can’t say, and probably doesn’t think of their pathway to impact as: do things much better than EA funds by being absurdly more competent than them. It would look arrogant if they said it. But I can say it!