Survival and Flourishing
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SAF awards small grants and service contracts for long-termist projects that don't yet have an institutional home. For larger grants to existing charities, visit SFF.

SAF’s first round of funded project applications are due Oct 1, 2020

SAF is hosting a competition for individuals seeking a fixed amount of funding for projects benefitting SAF’s mission. We expect this competition to allocate between $300k and $350k in funding. In short, applicants propose

Winners receive both funding and a project agreement for administering the funding, by becoming a subproject of SAF for the purpose of carrying out their proposed work.

Application (Due date Oct 1, 2020)

What are SAF funded projects?

For SAF’s purposes, a “project” is something you can do with a pre-defined budget over a pre-defined period of time. When SAF funds a project, we do so via an agreement with the project lead to execute their project as a subproject of SAF, with administrative support from SEE. This means you don’t have to start your own non-profit to execute your project. SAF itself is a project of SEE (although we do our own fundraising). SAF subprojects that grow into long-term endeavors can apply directly to SEE for long-term fiscal sponsorship, or to the IRS for 501(c)(3) status, to continue operating and begin fundraising from other sources.

What activities can become SAF funded projects?

SAF funded projects can vary widely in scope and cost. A few examples of projects that SAF might fund include:

We’re open to any ideas you have, as long as you can explain how your project might benefit the long-term survival and flourishing of sentient life.

In some cases, working on a SAF funded project might give an individual the freedom to reduce their time-commitment to their current role, and spend their remaining time investigating or working on a cause that interests them, with funding from SAF. In general, we like the idea of creating career flexibility for people to think more about the long-term future.

What activities can’t become a SAF funded project?

SAF project funding is not intended to fund “existing organizations” or “ongoing work”:

That said, we’re still open to applications to fund projects as part of existing organizations and/or ongoing work, especially if the application provides a satisfying explanation for why SAF is a better source of funding for the project than other available sources.

In any case, we will expect to see a report at the end of your SAF project period describing your progress on the project and how the project funds were spent. If you don’t like the idea of submitting reports to SAF or SEE, you might prefer to seek independent 501(c)(3) status or fiscal sponsorship from an existing 501(c)(3) public charity, such as SEE (our host). That way, you can have more autonomy with your funds and work, and you can seek funding from entities like the Survival and Flourishing Fund who grant to 501(c)(3)’s.

SAF/project/applicant relationship

Applications to this funded project competition must name one person to be the “applicant”, who is primarily responsible for

It’s fine if the applicant plans to involve other people to help with their project.

If the applicant wins, they receive funding from SAF’s budget to execute their project as subproject of SAF, under the fiscal sponsorship of SEE.

Only one application will be considered per applicant. We have this restriction because we don’t think our selection process is a good mechanism for helping an applicant to prioritize between multiple project ideas, compared to the applicant asking people who are likely to remain available to them as advisors to help them design and execute the most valuable project plan they can think of. If an applicant accidentally submits multiple applications, we will disregard all but their last application.

Eligibility

Applicants from any country are eligible, although additional due diligence may be needed to approve funding for projects in certain countries. Please note that the application process will be conducted in English. Given this, we only expect to award funding to applicants with working English proficiency.

Time commitment restrictions

On their application, applicants are asked to estimate a time commitment for working on their project, conditioning on acceptance as as SAF funded project. Applicants are not considered eligible to win if they are unable to negotiate an expected combined time commitment of ≤ 50 hours/week to their SAF project and their other employer(s) combined.

If the project would cause the applicant to fulfill less than their current time commitment to their current employer(s), the applicant must be willing to openly negotiate a reduced time commitment to their current employer(s). In such cases, after the project is awarded we might request a written notice from the applicant’s employer(s) confirming their reduced time commitment for the duration of the project.

We have these restrictions because we do not expect project leaders to be very productive beyond 50 hours of work per week, and we want to avoid creating incentives for people to work very long hours. In general, working 40 hours per week is probably healthier and more sustainable for most people than working 50 hours per week. We use 50 hours instead of 40 because we want to leave space for some applicants who might wish to keep their full-time job while performing some of their project responsibilities in their free time.

Funding amount restrictions

We expect that the funding allocated to most applicants will include both a) project expenses and b) a salary to compensate the applicant for their time.

Funding amounts awarded will range depending on the scope of the proposed work and the time commitment from the applicant.

Total restriction. The maximum total amount of funding SAF will consider awarding to any single applicant in this round is $200,000; the minimum amount considered will be $5,000.

We have this restriction because large budgets carry a large opportunity cost in terms of how many additional projects we can fund.

Time-based restriction. The total funding allocated to each winning applicant is also capped based on their time commitment to the project. The cap is {$300,000}×{the applicant’s percentage time commitment to the project}×{the duration of the project in years}. For example, if the applicant is committing to work on the project over a 1.5 year period at a 20% full-time-equivalent time commitment (e.g., one 8-hour workday per week, or 3.6 work-months spread out over the 18 months), the requested project funding amount must not exceed $300,000×1.5×20% = $90,000.

We have this restriction to ensure a certain minimum level of human attention is being spent on managing the funds we distribute.

Compensation restriction. Funded projects are welcome to include personal compensation for the applicant for the time they will spend on the project. The rate of compensation for the applicant will be capped at {$150,000}×{the applicant’s percentage time commitment to the project}×{the duration of the project in years}. For example, with a 40% FTE time commitment to the project in over a 1 year period, at most 40%×$150,000 = $60,000 will be awarded to the winning applicant as personal compensation for their work. The remaining portion of the project funding can be used for project-related expenses.

We have this restriction because we want to ensure a basic level of fairness in compensation across individuals working in our cause area.

Selection

Winning applicants will be selected by a Selection Committee comprising at least three people appointed by SAF’s Governance Committee. The Selection Committee will rank-order projects and award funding and project contracts to the top-ranked projects falling within our budget for this round. We may adjust our total budget for the round based on the quality of applications.

The Selection Committee is anonymous by default, although their identities will be known to SAF and SEE personnel, and they may choose to reach out to applicants for more information as part of the selection process.

Requirements and supervision

By default, winners will be offered funding and a project contract with SAF and SEE.

In some cases, funded project winners might already have an existing 501(c)(3) public charity or fiscal sponsor such as SEE who the winner would like to receive and administer the funding for their project. In that case, the winner can request that the funding be received and administered by a host charity. The host charity must also sign a project grant agreement with SEE to distribute funds according to the plan laid out in the project grant application, and a project grant report will then be due from the host charity at the end of the project grant period.

Note that applications seeking general support for ongoing work at 501(c)(3) public charities might be a better fit for the Survival and Flourishing Fund than for SAF; see “What activities can’t become a SAF funded project?” above.

Timeline for application and awards

Phase 1: (Application deadline Oct 1, 2020, 11:59PM GMT-12:00)

Interested candidates apply online; the application is linked at the top of this page.

Phase 2: (Begins by Nov 1, 2020)

Top applicants are offered funding and a project agreement, and given time to work with their current employers, if any, to negotiate a reduction in their time commitment or other agreements between their employer and SEE if needed for the project. Each winner is added to our public list of funded project winners after they sign their project agreement with SEE.

Shortlisted applicants are notified that they may be invited to Phase 2 if some top applicants do not reach agreement with SEE within 4 weeks of their initial funded project offer.

History

SAF’s funded project concept was largely inspired by BERI’s Project Grants round held in 2018, and involves some of the same people.