In short, if you work as an administrator for one of these groups, you may ask BERI to support a researcher that you nominate, provided you also find a donor or other source of unrestricted funding to offer a budget for that researcher.
Choosing a researcher
When you choose a researcher to support with a BERI budget, we expect that you will choose someone you trust to use unrestricted funds in a responsible manner to support their research and related efforts to mitigate x-risk. Think along the lines of GiveDirectly: you are funding a researcher to do whatever they think is best with those funds for the purpose of mitigating x-risk.
(We believe this model will work well for budgeting specific researchers with up to around $50,000. For larger amounts, we might initiate a conversation to discuss whether donating to a larger institution would be better.)
We make two requests as you seek funding for your nominee:
- Avoid having the nominee initiate a public fundraiser themselves. BERI would like to avoid creating a competitive equilibrium whereby x-risk researchers are spending their own time and attention, and the attention of x-risk motivated donors, on a lot of fundraisers. Instead, we ask that they channel their fundraising efforts through you (their nominating institution) and your donor network, so that you can be mindful of competing for donors with your affiliates; and
- Try to solicit novel funds that would not have otherwise been given to x-risk mitigation. In particular, there exist other funding-constrained non-profits focussed directly on mitigating existential risk, such as MIRI and CFAR, and we currently believe soliciting donations away from those groups would be a suboptimal use of BERI's funding model.
We'll take it from there
Once we have received your nominee's funding, they will be able to expense BERI for reimbursements and/or ask BERI to hire contractors on their behalf. To help your nominee use their funds maximally effectively, we'll encourage them to expense whatever costs they can to their home institution first, before using their BERI funds. Ultimately, though, we will aim to impose few or no restrictions, as long as your nominee passes our initial informal assessment for trustworthiness and alignment with our mission.
BERI will also review your nominee's spending to ensure it supports our mission, and we of course reserve the right to impose spending restrictions or return the donation. However, we expect that will not be necessary, especially given the degree of commitment and responsibility we have observed in the past from researchers at our nominating organizations.