Creating more impact for mental health
Why the area of mental health?
Mental health disorders are an important problem in the world. According to the Global Burden of Disease Study, mental disorders were the seventh leading cause of health burdens in the world in 2019; causing about 5% of all disability adjusted life years, and 14% of years of life lived with a disability.
According to the WHO, mental health is the most neglected health issue and should urgently receive more global investment. The Happier Lives Institute also argues that mental health disorders are particularly neglected, especially considering that they have some of the greatest impact on life satisfaction. Additionally, some initial estimates suggest a high cost-effectiveness and there seem to be shovel-ready charities with important gaps that we can fill.
Who are we?
We are a small network of donors interested in mental health as a cause area. Some members are funders with high net worth, others work for or manage foundation resources. A large percentage of our members subscribe to effective altruism as a philosophy, and aim to do the most good they can with their resources. Our network has open applications for organizations that might otherwise be missed by donors interested in the space. Our members meet once a month to discuss funding opportunities that they have heard about, or have come through our application form.
What is a funding circle?
A funding circle is a collaboration between a number of funders who typically target a certain cause area. For example, Farmed Animal Funders (FAF) is a group of funders who are all keen to support the end of factory farming. Many of these funders have varying interests and they range fairly dramatically in size. FAF has a couple of staff who help the members of the network research and find opportunities, as well as generally coordinate between them. This reduces the risk of double-funding, or missing promising opportunities. Another example is Big Bang Philanthropy.
Funding circles can be a powerful way to leverage and coordinate multiple funders that share a common interest. Often a cause area will have a number of funders; but between closed application rounds, unclear standards, and disjointed networks, the funding is not organized as well as it could be. Having different funder views is really important for a good funding ecosystem, but a funding circle has the added, massive benefit of having a centralized point of contact. This means organizations can apply as if applying to a single large funder, but gain exposure to several potential funders. The structure also means that if one member of the network discovers a promising opportunity, but it falls outside of their scope, communication channels are open and ready for them to pass the project on to a grantmaker who is a better fit.
Our mission is to cause more impact on the cause area of mental health by supporting key projects, even at an early stage.
Interested in joining our network?
We are always looking for more funders to join our network, although we do try to keep the group small enough to allow easy cross-member engagement. Typically this means committing one hour a month for a meeting, plus about an hour outside of the meeting to consider opportunities. To join the network there is also a $50,000 per year minimum expected donation to the cause area of mental health.
Our simple application process for charities interested in receiving funding
We have a short application process that can get your application on the radar of a number of funders. In some cases that will be all the information they need, in other cases a specific funder might reach out for more information, or to invite you to a deeper process. Our goal is to make our application process quick and easy, usually just requiring information that an organization has already created. Sadly, we can not respond to specific questions or give feedback on the applications, and will only contact those that seem like a good fit.