The grant policy of the 2050 Foundation is heavily influenced by the principle of Effective Altruism. We believe that our interventions should not be guided by our emotions but instead, be based on solid research and quantitative data. In terms of impact, the 2050 Foundation seeks to get the “biggest bang for its buck”.
Focus and Scope
These criteria of our grant policy are the result of a careful consideration of the specific intellectual and financial resources available to the 2050 Foundation. This is where we believe the 2050 Foundation can make the biggest difference, and the 2050 Foundation therefore does not consider any projects that fall outside the aforementioned scope.
This decision is not a value judgment, nor do we believe that our interventions/criteria are “better” than interventions pursued by other NGOs. Contrarily: we acknowledge that many other interventions are needed to transition to a fair and sustainable society, including interventions that have no counterfactual impact, focus on short-term and direct results or projects that are guided by emotions and empathy alone.
In short: a world where all altruism is only judged by its “effectiveness” would not be a better world for our children. The 2050 Foundation therefore applauds everyone who strives for a more sustainable society, including interventions that fall outside our criteria. But other organizations are better equipped to fund those interventions, and the 2050 Foundation focuses elsewhere.
The 2050 Foundation applies the following criteria in its grants:
1. Maximization of Counterfactual Impact
The 2050 Foundation refrains from interventions that could be funded by others. The outcomes would happen anyway, and therefore the additional impact of the funds provided by the 2050 Foundation is negligible.
2. Maximization of Catalytic/Multiplier Effects
The 2050 Foundation exclusively supports projects that have a proven catalytic effect on the behavior and effectiveness of others. By focusing on projects that maximize the impact attributable to others, our interventions can move a lot more capital into an impactful direction.
3. Long-term Impact (the year 2050 and beyond) over short-term results
The 2050 Foundation exclusively supports projects that have an expected long-term impact (hence 2050). The foundation believes that it is more effective to prevent (environmental and social) catastrophes from happening in the first place than to fix catastrophes that are already there.
4. Climate and Environmental Interventions First
The 2050 Foundation exclusively supports projects that have a long-term climate and environmental impact. Climate change and biodiversity loss are irreversible and will have a negative impact on the well-being of humankind for millennia and will negatively affect billions of children. As such, this focus on climate and the environment is considered to be a social intervention that improves the lives of many generations to come.
5. Impact Quantification First
The 2050 Foundation believes that metrics matter and supports interventions that provide or support improved impact assessments, thereby enabling others to maximize their impact on society. Projects without a very specific quantitative element fall outside the scope of the foundation.
6. High Risk, High Reward
The 2050 Foundation specifically targets interventions that have a (very) high risk, high reward profile. The 2050 Foundation does not depend on public donations. If an intervention fails, we only have to justify this to ourselves - and learn how we can do better next time - and this does not affect our future funding. Therefore, the 2050 Foundation is better positioned than other NGOs to fund interventions with a high risk of failure.
These criteria provide the necessary focus required for the 2050 Foundation to operate effectively. It also positions the 2050 Foundation within a domain where few other NGOs operate, which increases the counterfactual impact accomplished by the 2050 Foundation.