Survival and Flourishing
.Fund (SFF)

SFF versus SFP: SFF facilitates grants to existing charities; for smaller grants and service contracts for mission-aligned projects that don't yet have an institutional home, visit SFP.

Survival and Flourishing Fund General FAQ

Is “x” something that SFF would fund?

Generally speaking, SFF does not spend much staff or volunteer time advising applicants on what we are likely to fund. We operate this way partly to save time, partly to gauge the independent thinking of applicants, and partly because each round is decided by a different set of people. Our goal in organizing these grant-making rounds is to bring financial support to organizations working to improve humanity’s long-term prospects for survival and flourishing. To find out more about the philanthropic priorities of our largest grant-maker, see here. To see past grants SFF has made, see here.

Does SFF have an indirect / overhead rate limit for grants to universities?

The short answer is “No, but we wish we did, because we think university overhead rates of 5% are reasonable for SFF-advised gifts, and above 10% is too high.” Here’s the long answer:

By the time SFF-advised funding arrives at a university, it is usually provided as a highly unconstrained gift from a donor-advised fund (DAF) that presents (almost) no contractual obligations for the university to uphold. In particular, applications to SFF do not constitute “grant agreements” or anything similar, and funds from SFF-advised donors and DAFs are usually not “grants” in the academic sense of carrying terms or restrictions. As a result, we hope that universities will not be obliged to incur large internal operational costs to manage the funds. In other words, the funding ends up being provided in a form that we think shouldn’t incur large overhead rates, and part of that form involves avoiding legal contracts at a level of detail that could be used to limit the overhead rate. So, while we think indirect/overhead rates of 5% are reasonable for the administration of SFF-advised gift funds, and that rates in excess of 10% are too high, in the end we have no straightforward way to enforce this.

What accessibility services does SFP offer?

Due to the capacity available by our staff, accessibility services for applicants are less than those for winners. If while in the process of submitting your application you have a disability that prevents you from filling out the application yourself, we can offer to help you for up to 3 hours in the course of writing your application or various administrative work to aid in the application process

Can a philanthropist advised by the S-process donate to organizations affiliated with recommenders in the S-process?

Yes. This answer has two parts: about the S-process in general, and about SFF specifically.

  1. In general, the S-process is just a procedure a philanthropist can use to decide whether and where they want to make donations; at the end of the process, they can donate wherever they might normally donate, and are not obliged to follow the process. Nonetheless, it’s probably a good idea for a recommender to be recused from evaluating their own organization for a grant, for the sake of making better-optimized decisions about whether to make the grant.

  2. Specifically for SFF S-process grant rounds, when a recommender joins a round from an organization that has also submitted an application for funding, we have always recused that recommender from evaluating their own organization for a grant. We also sometimes recuse people from evaluating organizations that they are very closely affiliated with, even if they don’t work there. In unclear cases, the process we follow for deciding recusals is similar to the procedure a Board of Directors of a charity (or any company) would recuse a Board member from deciding their own salary: by disclosing relevant information, discussing, and conducting a vote amongst the group (in our case, the recommenders). Often recommenders simply recuse themselves, in which case a vote is unnecessary.

None of this procedure is a legal requirement, because it’s fine for a philanthropist to donate to a charity and also ask people at that charity a) how much funding the charity needs, and b) where else would be a good place to donate. So, the reason we recuse people from evaluating their own applications is to improve the quality of our group decision-making, not because it is somehow morally or legally wrong for a charity to ask for donations and recommend donations to other charities at the same time.

Can SFF give me feedback on my already submitted and reviewed application?

We provide anonymous feedback from recommenders to applicants once the grant round is closed and the recommendations have been announced. SFF directly reaches out to applicants with information on how to request feedback once it is ready.

As a grant winner, can I have a grant letter from SFF to help with IRS/immigration/university protocols?

This is something that SFF generally does not do, because SFF is not the entity making the grants. However, in some cases we may be able to do something like this. If you send us a draft letter of the kind you’d want to receive, we can modify it into a form that makes sense for us, and send it back for your review. We might take a few weeks on this, but we can give it a try if you don’t mind us being slow.

Can I apply for a grant when there are no grant rounds open?

You can apply at any time via our rolling application form, but your application will not be reviewed for funding by the S-process until we organize a grant round. If you need funding urgently, you may want to consider applying for a Speculation Grant. Speculation Grants are an additional type of grant SFF offers that expedites funding to organizations. To learn more, see here.