Many foundations try to solve specific problems. They seek to end homelessness, help veterans, protect oceans, or improve K-12 education. All worthy goals.
But what if the programs aimed at solving those problems don’t work? Or cost too much? Or create unforeseen consequences? How can they be improved?
Only a handful of foundations try to address those bigger questions. They want, not just to solve problems, but to improve the way we solve problems. One of the most interesting is the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), which was created in 2008 and reported assets of $1.7 billion (U.S.) at the end of 2015.
North America is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
A lot of programs claim to be evidence-based,” Baron explains, but “many of them overstate their evidence.” When subjected to rigorous tests, many well-intended programs fall short. “Unfortunately,” Baron says, “they (the tests) usually find that the program being evaluated does
Big ideas, to be sure, but this foundation has already made big waves. As part of a wide-ranging criminal justice initiative, LJAF funded the creation of a database that has changed the way judges in numerous jurisdictions, including the states of Arizona, Kentucky and New Jersey and the city of Chicago, decide which defendants will be released before they go to trial. For better or worse – better, in my view – it’s a vivid example of how philanthropy can change public policy, as this story about bail reform in New Jersey explains.
LJAF stands apart because of its commitment to evidence, both to support its own programs and to improve the work of governments, foundations, and nonprofits.
Read the full article by Marc Gunther about program evidence from Corporate Knights
Looking for a way to get involved?
If you are looking for opportunities to learn and connect with others interested in the topic of Impact Philanthropy, take a look at these events, galas, conferences and volunteering opportunities aggregated by Giving Compass.
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If you are ready to take action and invest in causes for Impact Philanthropy, check out these Giving Funds, Charitable Organizations and Projects related to Impact Philanthropy.