22 Nov 2021

A charity that is purpose-built for safeguarding the future invests money until it is needed most even if that time is centuries away.

At the end of the Napoleonic wars, the Swedish Navy needed to rebuild. With an eye to the future, the Swedish Crown identified the best places to plant trees for shipbuilding. The lake island of Visingsö was chosen and within ten years 300,000 oaks were planted there.

150 years later, the oaks were large enough to build a whole fleet. But they weren’t needed for that purpose. Technology had moved on to ships made from iron and steel (but the trees are much-used by wildlife!).

What does this have to do with the Patient Philanthropy Fund? It shows that while we understand the demands of today, we cannot always predict the needs of the future.

Funds when they are needed most

The Patient Philanthropy Fund (PPF) embraces longtermism, with the objective of safeguarding and benefiting the future of humanity. The charity has been incubated by Founders Pledge and takes an innovative, patient approach to doing the greatest good when the highest-impact opportunities occur – which may be years, decades or even centuries away.

Possible reasons to deploy the charitable funds could be to prevent a pandemic worse than COVID, to support institutions to prevent a great power war destabilising the world, to ensure powerful technologies are developed safely and responsibly, or to support institutions that govern with the future in mind.

The Longtermist view

Longtermism isn’t universally supported; some think it distracts from the pressing needs of today, such as climate change, famine and water shortages. But humans are generally bad at planning ahead and making provisions for the future. Governments are typically focused on results achieved before the next election. The distant future is rarely considered.  Globally, we spend more money on ice cream each year than we do on preventing our extinction. Moreover, the state of play for philanthropy focused on safeguarding the future remains fragile, as one donor provides more than 50% of all funding. What happens if that donor drops out?

The PPF was set up because future generations matter, and we need more resources committed to safeguarding them. By incubating the PPF, Founders Pledge is aiming to improve the resilience of this space and creating the world’s first charity that takes an explicitly patient approach to philanthropy.

How the PPF works

The PPF is based on a first-of-its-kind philanthropic funding mechanism, purpose-built for safeguarding the future. Donors contribute (currently $1m in pre-seed capital), capital is pooled and invested for long-term gains. To build its grant making infrastructure and track record, PPF makes small annual grants to the best existing and rigorously vetted longtermist funding opportunities, whilst the majority of the funds remain safeguarded ready to be deployed when the time is right.

As the fund grows, research will be continually conducted into funding opportunities and the optimal timing of giving. When that time, need or opportunity arises, PPF will step in to deploy funding.

Our Charities and Social Ventures team worked with Sjir Hoeijmakers and the wider team at Founders Pledge to:

  • design the legal, governance, and administrative structure of PPF
  • develop PPF’s innovative grant making policy
  • advise on the charity law and regulatory aspects of PPF’s governance and investment strategy

Chris Willis Pickup, Charities and Social Ventures Partner at Taylor Vinters, said:  It’s been a pleasure to support Sjir and the Founders Pledge team with another one of their groundbreaking initiatives.  There is a new generation of thinkers and philanthropists exploring new ways of giving and delivering positive impact, and the Patient Philanthropy Fund is leading the way in long-term philanthropy.”

 

The PPF has already attracted several forward-looking, pioneering philanthropists and global media coverage, and is seeking more pioneers to join them in growing what they describe as ‘The ultimate rainy-day fund for humanity.’

You can find out more about the Patient Philanthropy Fund here, and you can use the EA Funds platform or every.org or email funds@founderspledge.com if you would like to make a contribution to safeguard the future of humanity.

To discuss your options for helping to shape a better world, please talk to our Charities and Social Ventures team.