Giving Compass' Take:

• Jim Shelton, writing for Stanford Social Innovation Review, offers five insights about the relationship between social mobility and big bets in philanthropy. 

• The author mentions that donors have to stop making big bets in philanthropy by themselves.  How can donors prioritize collective impact over individual investments?

•  Read more about why transformative philanthropy will require big bets. 

There are many different approaches to making philanthropic big bets and many causes worthy of the investment. I want to build upon the work I began in 2015 focusing on how we can use big bets to accelerate social mobility in the United States—and not just for a few, but for many millions of people.

The data also show that despite significant public and private investment, the place where someone grows up and the color of one’s skin make a significant difference to social mobility.

Let me suggest five insights about social mobility and the role of big bet philanthropy that continue to strike me as especially significant:

  • Ultimately, it’s about public work.   If philanthropic investments do not engage the public sector, it is hard to see how they will lead to population-level change.
  • Business can play a transformative role.  Despite the success of engaging businesses in achieving big goals globally, US philanthropy typically ignores the potential of for-profit companies to help create, implement, and scale innovative solutions to domestic challenges.
  • Place-based progress matters but is elusive and demands systemic and comprehensive solutions. 
  • To reach entire populations, target those with great needs.  Change strategies often begin with the populations and communities where change may be easier so that philanthropists can demonstrate success before moving on to the tougher challenges.
  • Donors have to ditch the bad habit of making big bets on their own. Uncoordinated individual investments may not get us very far in changing the systems that have failed to address big social problems.

Read the full article about how big bets can advance social mobility by Jim Shelton at Stanford Social Innovation Review.