What we do

The Effective Institutions Project is a new global working group dedicated to building a cross-disciplinary community of interest around the challenge of improving institutional decision-making (IIDM). We aim to increase the technical quality and altruistic intent of important decisions made by powerful institutions. We leverage the accumulated wisdom of researchers and practitioners across many fields in order to identify opportunities to make change that are likely to have the greatest positive impact on society.

Why it matters

Actions taken by powerful institutions—such as central governments, multinational corporations, influential media outlets, and wealthy philanthropic funders—shape our lives in myriad and often hard-to-perceive ways. Yet on issues from COVID to climate change, our leaders too often misjudge risks, make choices based on political expediency, and fail to imagine wiser alternatives when it counts the most.

It’s no surprise, then, that according to an analysis by 80,000 Hours, “improving the quality of decision-making in important institutions could improve our ability to solve almost all other problems.” We need our institutions to do better. Our lives may literally depend on it.

Our work so far

Our current activities include:

  • “The Most Important Institutions in the World”: a framework and initial prioritization to identify specific decision-making bodies that have disproportionate leverage over global outcomes
  • A knowledge-building initiative to organize and review evidence assessing the effectiveness of interventions to improve decision-making in institutional contexts
  • A directory of IIDM-related resources including publications, organizations working in the space, thought leaders, curricula and training programs, career guides, and tools

We also maintain several spaces for IIDM-related community discussion and collaboration, including our Facebook group and Slack channel, which together have more than 1,000 participants. For a fuller understanding of our long-term path to impact, please see our theory of change.

Research & Analysis

Our global, interdisciplinary network of experts is building a knowledge base to help determine what it takes to improve decision-making at important institutions.

Strategy Design

We develop and evaluate strategies for improving decision quality at specific institutions that are likely to lead to globally desirable outcomes.


We create opportunities for shared learning and collaboration across the community and provide career advice for professionals in the space.

Funding Priorities

In collaboration with funding partners, we identify shovel-ready institutional reform interventions and initiatives that can benefit from additional resources.

our team

The Effective Institutions Project was founded by Ian David Moss, a strategist and social innovator with nearly 20 years’ experience in program and organizational design. Ian has founded and led many previous initiatives including a think tank that grew to become one of the leading knowledge resources in its field, a global research network and community of practice, and a giving circle focused on democracy initiatives in the US. Previously, he was a senior executive for more than seven years at a $20M nonprofit technology company serving creative entrepreneurs and served as a fellow at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

John Lavis Advisor
Dave Orr


A Landscape Analysis of Institutional Improvement Opportunities

Announcing the IIDM
Working Group

Refining IIDM as a Cause: Results of a Scoping Survey

Which Institutions?
(A Prioritization Framework)