Back in TiB 204
I said that FTX Foundation’s Future Fund (FF) was the most exciting philanthropic initiative I’d seen for a long time. They’ve just published their first major update
and it’s worth a read, to see both what
they’re funding and how
they’re giving money away. Institutional innovation is (I think) rare in philanthropy (we talked about this in TiB 207
and on the TiB podcast with Nadia Asparouhova
) and it’s great to see people approach it rigorously and seriously.
Perhaps the most interesting experiment FF has been running is with “regranting
”. FF recruits regrantors with aligned values and great networks; allocates them a budget; and then with very high probability awards the grants they recommend. This seems to be working well, especially compared to FF’s more traditional “open call” for applications:
“[Regranting] is the model we’re currently most excited about. We think regrantors are making pretty reasonable grants [and] many of the grants are opportunities we wouldn’t otherwise have known about”
One way to think about regranting is that it’s a little like the venture capital “scout” model applied to philanthropy, whereas the open call is more like what Marc Andreessen calls the “bat signal” model in this conversation
(i.e. build a very distinctive brand that acts as a magnet to the right kind of people).
I would have said that FF did
have such a brand, so it’s interesting that regranting is working better, for now. In their book Talent
(and also on the TiB podcast
), Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross suggest that scouting works best when the talents you’re trying to recruit may not be aware that they excel on the dimension that you care about - or even that an opportunity of this sort exists at all. There’s some evidence of this in the FF writeup (see the story of Braden Lynch in the report), though perhaps this will change as FF becomes more established. In any case, FF seems an unambiguously good thing for the world and I’m excited to see what comes next.