Here's What Philanthropy Looks Like When Millennials From Tech and Finance Get Together

Good Ventures is the foundation created by Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna. GiveWell is the charity evaluation outfit started by two hedge fund guys in 2007, a few years after they graduated from Ivy League schools and decided that finance wasn't for them. 

Both organizations are in the Bay Area, and over the past few years, GiveWell has been helping to guide Good Ventures’ grantmaking by identifying outstanding nonprofits worthy of the foundation’s time and money. They called their work together GiveWell Labs.

After collaborating for a few years, they asked themselves, “How can we accomplish as much good as possible with our giving?”

The two organizations decided to join forces, rebranding their GiveWell Labs collaboration as the Open Philanthropy Project.

Good Ventures and GiveWell will continue to remain separate organizations but will work together to identify giving opportunities in the broad fields of global health and development, policy advocacy, scientific research, and reducing global catastrophic risk.

The organization's premise is strongly optimistic: That humans have come a long way, thanks to economic and technological advances, and much more progress lies ahead. "We’re motivated by our vision of a day when every person’s needs are met and each of us is empowered to shape our own lives."

This mindset, that big problems can be solved by a human race that keeps getting smarter, is fairly typical of Millennials, who came of age in an America where technology has evolved at lightning speed. A Pew poll earlier this year found that Millennials were less likely to believe in god or government or political parties, but did believe that the future would be better, as well as in the power of technology and friendships. 

While Open Philanthropy is still deciding on its specific issue areas, it has said it plans to seek out issues that are receiving little attention, or as the organization puts it, those that are "relatively uncrowded." This operation will aim to achieve impact in the near-term by backing evidence-based strategies while also tackling longer term challenges through risky investments where the payoff is uncertain. And it promises to embrace action "in the face of uncertainty."

Again, that will all sound familiar if you follow the doings of the youthful startup world, where there's enormous zeal for solving specific problems, even when it may not yet be clear how to solve those problems or monetize the solution. 

With a name like Open Philanthropy, it comes as no surprise that the new project puts a heavy emphasis on transparency, which it sees as a key to innovation and shared learning:

We envision a world in which philanthropists increasingly document and share their research, reasoning, results and mistakes to help each other learn more quickly and serve the world more effectively.

To this end, Open Philanthropy says it will:

  • Provide detailed reasoning behind its funding decisions
  • Publish reports supporting its decisions
  • Hold conference calls and meetings to openly discuss and answer questions regarding its work
  • Publish notes from its various information gathering conversations

Here, too, you can see the Millennial mindset in play. Sharing, and sharing widely, is a no-brainer for a generation that came of age with social technologies, and which are known to love joining teams.

Right now, the Open Philanthropy Project is still in a start-up phase, but it does have a pretty informative website. And let's not forget one very important thing, which is that there are very deep pockets behind this venture. Thanks to the rising of value of Facebook's stock, Dustin Moskovitz is currently worth $7.9 billion. 

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