Founders Pledge: Global Catastrophic Risks Fund
Supports highly-impactful solutions to help prevent the most severe global catastrophes.
We live in a time of perils. Humanity faces large risks, including war between great powers, natural and engineered pandemics, thermonuclear war, threats from advanced artificial intelligence (AI), and emerging risks from frontier military technologies. These global catastrophic risks have the potential to kill hundreds of millions, even billions, of humans alive today.
Scientists, policymakers, and the public can come together to mitigate these risks. We’ve done it before. During the Cold War, leaders cooperated to reduce stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. At the turn of the millennium, scientists spearheaded an unprecedented effort to compute and track the threat of large asteroids and comets in Earth’s vicinity to protect humanity from catastrophic impacts. A growing global movement now seeks to reduce the risks from climate change and increase pandemic preparedness.
The Global Catastrophic Risks Fund will identify and fund interventions to reduce the largest known risks to humanity today. This Fund is designed both to tackle far-future threats, and to take action now and help protect every human being alive today. We aim to:
Our Approach to Grantmaking
When evaluating potential grants, we consider several key points:
Focusing on counterfactual impact. The Fund is designed to make grants that otherwise wouldn’t have been made, and grants that individuals would be otherwise unable to make.
Collaborating with trusted partners. The Fund will seek to collaborate with other funders who share our views and approach to effective giving and whose counterfactual impact we consider similar to that of the Fund. Trusted partners include Effective Giving, Giving What We Can and Longview Philanthropy’s new Longtermism Fund, the Long-Term Future Fund, Open Philanthropy, and more. We plan to keep these and other philanthropic actors abreast of our grantmaking and possibly to work together on co-funding promising projects.
Avoiding harm and information hazards. Many global catastrophic risks revolve around dangerous technologies and issues of national and international security. In our grantmaking, we will develop rigorous processes to avoid doing harm or spreading harmful information (“information hazards”). For example, if we believe that a promising funding opportunity has a chance of developing dual-use technology that can be weaponized, we will not fund it.
Filling funding gaps. Not all organizations are set up to scale their programming and many can’t productively absorb large amounts of unsolicited funding. We evaluate all potential grantees’ capacity for growth and consider how much money they could put to good use. This means there will be many great organizations we do not recommend because they are already sufficiently funded.
Evaluating organizational strength. Particularly with unrestricted funding and hits-based giving on highly uncertain issues, it’s important to have trust in the leadership and capacity of the organizations we support. We look at their track record, their calibration, and their transparency about failures as well as successes.
Seizing time-sensitive opportunities and policy windows. International crises—as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increased tension between the U.S. and China over Taiwan have illustrated—can move fast. The flexibility of the Fund will seek to enable time-sensitive grantmaking, find policy windows, and step in quickly where traditional funders can’t.
How will my contribution be used?
All funds are granted out. The Fund is not an investment vehicle. The Fund does not use any percentage of contributions to cover staff time or other overhead costs. Every dollar contributed to the Fund will be used to make grants directly to end-user organizations creating a real difference.