Our Process

How we chose our awardees


Open Philanthropy’s mission is to help others as much as we can with the resources available to us. We think about our funding in terms of expected impact per dollar, meaning the impact per dollar we expect to have when adjusting for the chance of success. We are open to different ways of defining positive impact, and we make grants in many areas.

For the Regranting Challenge, we chose to focus on programs working on human health, economic development, and/or climate change. We were open to both “low-risk” opportunities (e.g. direct provision of proven health services) and “high-risk” opportunities (e.g. exploratory scientific research that might or might not bear results). For the latter, even a low chance of success for any given opportunity can be offset by the very high impact of any success that occurs. We call this “hits-based giving”.

However, no matter the risk level, we were looking for programs with:

  1. Clearly defined goals.
  2. A track record of at least initial progress towards those goals.
  3. A set of cost-effective opportunities they would support if they had more funding.

While we shared examples of focus areas we thought might be a good fit, we didn’t make an exhaustive list; we launched the Challenge in part because we hoped that some of the candidates would be organizations we weren’t familiar with, working in areas where we had little experience.


The Regranting Challenge consisted of three distinct stages.

Stage 1: Expression of interest (February - March 2022)

We kicked things off with a short set of questions to find out whether each applicant was a good fit for the Regranting Challenge. 

To respect applicants’ time, we designed these questions to be answerable within two hours, and without the need to create new materials. We provided sample expressions of interest to make the process as simple as possible for applicants, and held calls with over 35 interested organizations to answer their questions.

We received over 100 expressions of interest, and chose to continue with more than 60 programs on the basis of eligibility and fit. 

To qualify, programs had to have granted an average of $10 million/year over the last three years, and they had to commit to maintaining this level of funding in addition to any extra funding they might receive through the Challenge; we wanted to make sure we were adding to their work, rather than simply replacing existing funding.

Stage 2: Summary of track record (April - July 2022)

This written application focused on the historical track record of applicants. We invited the remaining applicants to complete a 5,000-word application with two main sections:

  1. A discussion of their overall goals, strategy, and largest grants in the last three years
  2. A deep dive into two past grants which the teams considered to be among their best

Applicants were additionally able to provide other information or materials which they had on hand, but which were not created for the Regranting Challenge, such as impact evaluations or internal analysis.

In this stage, we sought to understand applicants’ past work, in order to estimate their cost-effectiveness and evaluate their strategies. To protect applicants’ time, we did not ask about their specific plans for future or additional funding.

From among these applications, we selected 10 finalists.

Stage 3: Funding proposals (August - November 2022)

The final round focused on how the finalists would plan to use additional funding. We asked for:

  1. Two proposals for funding: one at a lower funding level and one at a higher level.
  2. 3-6 new ideas that would be their top priorities to investigate with a higher budget.
  3. Two grant ideas they had already received or developed, but hadn’t funded (and would be likely to fund with a higher budget).

In this stage, we also investigated the finalists further by interviewing a selection of their grantees, sharing and discussing their proposals with outside experts, and modeling the expected impact of their funding proposals.


How will Open Philanthropy judge the success or failure of these grants?

We will check in with awardees every quarter for progress updates.

The final proposals mostly focused on advocacy and R&D work.1 We’ll be looking for specific outcomes in those domains — for example, progress on vaccine development.

As we monitor progress, we’ll be comparing the expected impact of the Challenge to that of our past and present grantmaking. If regranting seems to be highly effective, we may look to scale up our efforts in this area going forward.

How does Open Philanthropy know that they’ll be adding funding to these specific programs, rather than just replacing funding the programs might have received from their home organizations?

When they applied, each awardee shared information about the amount of funding they’d allocated over the last three years. We asked that awardees keep up the same average funding level in addition to allocating what they received from Open Philanthropy. Thus, we believe that our funding will be added to the total budget of each program, rather than replacing (“funging”) money they’d have given away otherwise.

Will Open Philanthropy run other Regranting Challenges in the future?

We are very open to the idea, but we aren’t yet sure how (or whether) we’ll follow up on the Regranting Challenge. We hope that our check-ins with awardees will help us learn about the impact of our funding, which will inform our future work of this type.

1 We think of this as “hits-based giving” — the results may be excellent, but there’s also a substantial chance that one or more of our awardees don’t achieve their goals. Overall, we hope that the “hits” are impactful enough to make up for any “misses”.