Giving Compass’ Take:
• Kristen Molyneaux explains how the MacArthur Foundation works to make 100&Change more than a simple philanthropy competition.
• Is this processes sufficient to get the best results? Who is being excluded from this process?
• Learn about the results of poorly-run competitions.
From the outset of our inaugural 100&Change, we recognized that a competition is inherently biased toward thinking of one organization as a “winner.” However, that was not how we at the MacArthur Foundation defined success nor how we designed our competition. Instead, we set out to raise the profile of meaningful and impactful solutions to our world’s most pressing problems, using the competition as a mechanism for surfacing those solutions. Every step of the way, we tried to build an application process that would bring added value to all participants whether they were ultimately selected for the award or not.
While we had notions of what that meant at the beginning of the process, we did not fully understand what that would mean until we were in the thick of the competition. Some of this uncertainty was due to the challenge of running a large-scale competition for the first time and our natural learning curve; the other was because we chose to use a design-build philosophy throughout our process. The design-build process enabled us to outline what we planned to do and afforded us the flexibility to adapt based on our real-time learnings. This provided the team with opportunities to adapt to what we were hearing from participants in terms of what was working, what was not working, and what we could do to strengthen the process. All of these elements came together as we worked to build a competition that added value to participants, maintained rigor, and provided the foundation with the kind of information it needed in order to make such a bold award.
Read the full article about a philanthropy competition by Kristen Molyneaux at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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