Research Fellow

San Francisco, CA
Jun 20, 2019
Jul 20, 2019
Position Type
Full Time

The Open Philanthropy Project is aiming to hire one or more Research Fellows (title flexible) to help maximize the impact of our giving. Our staff of 35 currently gives away over $150 million per year with the aim of doing as much good as we can per dollar, in causes like criminal justice reformbiosecurity, and transformative basic science. Over the next decade, we plan to increase our giving by several times while continuing to raise our bar for impact. To do so, we need to assess our impact in our initial cause areas, figure out how to spend more effectively within them, and explore whether there are more promising new areas we should be expanding into. 

Research Fellows will investigate key empirical questions, prioritize across disparate areas, and help pick grantees. In contrast to our recent Analyst hires primarily focused on long-term causes, Fellows will focus on causes in policy, scientific research, and global development. Over time, successful Fellows may become managers, grantmakers, or leaders of organizations that we can then fund. Research Fellows have the rare opportunity to study some of the world’s most pressing problems and put substantial resources behind their answers.

Potential early projects may include investigating:

  • What value should we use for the social cost of carbon to adequately reflect the greater marginal utility of consumption for low-income people?
  • What organizations should we try to create in macroeconomic stabilization policy?
  • What impact has our support of progressive prosecutors had on incarceration rates?
  • If we expanded our policy advocacy funding beyond the United States, which countries or subnational units should we expand to and why?
  • What does the literature about special economic zones imply for charter cities?
  • Who should we select for our “external investigator” program, in which we give outside individuals budgets to recommend grants?
  • Who should we consider hiring as a program officer in climate policy?
  • How should we model the social value of a dollar of grant funding from the NIH?
  • When, if ever, should we invest in for-profit companies instead of making grants?

We don’t expect you to have opinions on most of these questions yet! But if you’re excited to answer questions like these ones — and have your answers matter — we hope you’ll apply.

You might be a good fit if you are comfortable evaluating different types of social scientific evidence (e.g. reading an academic paper and evaluating the evidence and methodology presented in it), building models of your reasoning, and quantifying tradeoffs. While there’s no single background that we’re looking for, relevant examples may include: graduate study in economics or political science, research on global health or development, policy research for a think tank, management consulting, investment research, or other past experience focused on weighing evidence to inform practical decisions. 

Other information:

  • This is a full-time, permanent position based in San Francisco, but we’re open to remote work for the right candidate.
  • We are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and strongly encourage people with diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply.
  • We’re open to many levels of seniority — from a couple years of experience to a recent PhD to decades of research excellence — and we pay competitively.
  • We offer a comprehensive benefits package including full health, dental, vision and life insurance, an unconditional 401(k) grant of up to 15% of your salary, flexible work hours and location, ergonomic equipment and more. 
  • We are happy to sponsor applicants who lack U.S. work authorization, but we can’t guarantee visa approval.
  • Our website has more about who we arewhat we’re about, and what we fund.

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