Introducing the Patient Philanthropy Fund

Illustrative image

▲ Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash

Future people matter

If we could look into the future, what would we want to see?

The good news is this: how that picture looks is up to us. It’s in our hands to create a happy, healthy and thriving future for all. The bad news is this future is far from guaranteed. From nuclear war to out-of-control AI, many threats could lead to our extinction or reverse our progress.

Unfortunately, we humans aren’t naturally great at thinking about the long term. And our markets and governments aren’t naturally incentivized to consider it either. We spend more money on ice cream each year than we do on preventing our extinction.

But future people matter. And there’s going to be a lot of them, if we don’t screw up. Even if humanity only ends up lasting as long as the average mammal species, we’re only 2% done.

Acting now, for later

We can meaningfully affect the lives of future humans.

We can do this by supporting the organisations actively trying to ensure our survival and improve our future. And that’s one of the most valuable things a philanthropist can do. Donating for the long-term future could help prevent catastrophic climate change, a great power war, or a pandemic much worse than COVID-19.

While it’s vital to support the best future-focused organisations around today, new threats and opportunities can quickly emerge tomorrow. We need to think a few steps ahead to be truly ready for whatever comes our way. What if we’re suddenly faced with a major opportunity to protect our future or an existential catastrophe that threatens it?

History shows that early intervention by far-sighted philanthropists can make a huge impact during pivotal moments. Take the example of the Pugwash Conferences, which made crucial contributions to nuclear arms control agreements during the Cold War.

Inspired by the research into philanthropic timing carried out by Philip Trammell, Research Associate in Economics at Oxford’s Global Priorities Institute, we produced a report presenting the case for 'investing to give' (investing financial resources now so they can be used to do more good later). When we realised there was no existing vehicle we could recommend to our members, we decided we should create our own...

Launching today: The Patient Philanthropy Fund

Today we’re excited to launch The Patient Philanthropy Fund. It’s a first-of-its-kind, designed to safeguard and improve the future of humanity by deploying funding when it’s needed most.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Donors contribute to the Fund to create a shared pool of capital
  2. Capital is invested for long-term gains, initially in a low-fee Global Stock Index Fund
  3. While the fund grows, more research is conducted into future-focused funding opportunities and optimal timing of giving
  4. When an extraordinary time, need or opportunity arises, the Fund steps in

Think of it as the ultimate rainy day fund for humanity — a savings pot designed to give our species better insurance, protection and resilience for the future.

The Fund is managed by a committee of experts, all with a strong network and expertise on how well-timed grant-making can safeguard the future:

  • Philip Trammell - Research Associate at Oxford’s Global Priorities Institute
  • Luke Ding - Board Member at Founders Pledge and advisor to the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund
  • Sjir Hoeijmakers - Senior Researcher at Founders Pledge
  • Max Daniel - Chief of Staff at the Forethought Foundation for Global Priorities Research and Chair of the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund

True to its name, this is very much a long-term project that will be nurtured and developed as the Fund grows. We have several milestones in place, including an investment strategy update when the Fund hits $10m. And when the Fund reaches $100m, or after 10 years (with a minimum $10m AUM), it will spin out and become an independent entity.

Get involved

We’ve already secured $1m in pre-seed funding from our generous Founding Partners and Supporters, including Jaan Tallinn (Co-founder of Skype), Ignaz Forstmeier (Co-founder of Personio), Jacintha Baas (Co-founder of Sustainer Homes), Austin Che (Founder of Ginkgo Bioworks), and Daniel Yu (Founder of Sokowatch), among others.

Now we invite you to join us and other pioneering philanthropists to safeguard and improve the future of humanity. Learn more and get involved with the Patient Philanthropy Fund.

  1. Future people matter
  2. Acting now, for later
  3. Launching today: The Patient Philanthropy Fund
  4. Get involved

About the author


Sjir Hoeijmakers

Director of Research at Giving What We Can

Sjir is Director of Research at Giving What We Can, having led research and efforts to create the Patient Philanthropy Fund in his previous role as Senior Researcher at Founders Pledge. He also co-founded Effective Altruism Netherlands, where he serves as a trustee.