A philanthropist’s decision to invest in scientific research and development may be driven by an array of factors.
Their giving may be motivated by personal experience with a specific disease, the desire to help improve health
and save lives, or the aspiration to improve the status quo. Regardless of one’s motivations, strategic philanthropic
investments in medical research require a careful consideration of the philanthropist’s priorities and an
understanding of the current state of research to amplify the impact of their giving.
With support from the Apex Foundation’s LGMD2i Research Fund, the Milken Institute Philanthropy Advisory
Service conducted a landscape analysis of current and best practices for funding scientific research, which was
informed by interviews with foundation leaders, philanthropy advisors, and government stakeholders. In this
Giving Smarter Guide for Funding Scientific Research, we provide a pathway for defining your philanthropic
priorities, aligning them with the unmet needs of a research field and the existing funding ecosystem, and
effectively deploying philanthropic capital to universities and research institutions.
The report is structured to provide points of entry into the pathway of funding scientific research primarily
conducted in an academic or medical setting. Written for individual philanthropists and foundations who may be
new to scientific research, this report will walk you through the process with a series of questions and key
Apex Foundation, the family foundation for Bruce R. McCaw, has been pleased to work with the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy and FasterCures in creating this guide. We are grateful to all who contributed their insights and wisdom. Hopefully, it is a useful read for anyone considering investing in research. The goal of producing a useful guide for prospective philanthropists was driven by our desire to share what we’ve learned from 20 years of experience in the field. We’ve learned a lot through the course of funding various academic and medical research initiatives, and through trial and error of granting many millions of dollars to research projects. A guide of this sort would have served us well as we set our course, and in considering questions that came up along the way.”
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