I'm lucky - I probably won't have to provide for any loved ones after I die (they can take care of themselves). That means I can use my assets on whatever I want, and most likely, that will be science. The exact amount I can spare depends on how much longer I have to live, but an order of magnitude estimate is $10 million.
I understand that most funding requires proposals from the scientists, which are then peer reviewed. I'm not particularly interested in that. Instead I'm thinking of finding people working on what I'm most interested in (cosmology) and funding them to do whatever they want, trusting in their integrity to use the funds appropriately.
- Is it better to use the funds as a one-shot lump sum, or make it sustainable (that is, keep the principal, and use only the interest on that for funding)?
- What is a good amount to provide a single professor? Is it better to provide one researcher with the $10 million, or ten different researchers with $1 million, or some other number?
- How do I go about this? Can I just ask for the professors' bank account numbers, and write in my will to transfer $X into that account?
- I'd like to talk to the professors, preferably face-to-face, to assess their character. Are the professors likely to be willing to talk?
EDIT: Thanks for answers. I'll need to think about it. I'm not keen on funding PhD students since there're already too many graduates and too few permanent positions. I'm also not keen on funding a fellowship because when I wrote my own applications there were so very many fellowships, many of which required their own separate application. I'm hoping to make things easy.
I also want to free some scientists from spending so much of their time writing funding proposals. Endowing a chair is a possibility but that ties the money to a single university, which is again something I need to think about. Hopefully there'll be many more years before I die to sort all these out, and thanks again for answers.