Giving Compass' Take:

• The Ford Foundation's Kathy Reich discusses the organization's BUILD initiative, which aims to support nonprofits who are making an impact on inequality issues.

• One of the main takeaways here is that nonprofits thrive with larger, longer, more flexible grants. How might this inform other impact-driven projects in the philanthropy world?

• Here's more on how rigorous evaluation supports systems change.

In 2016 I joined the Ford Foundation as its first BUILD director, to lead a new six-year, $1 billion initiative to help organizations that are moving the needle on inequality become stronger, more sustainable, and more durable. We’re now a third of the way through BUILD’s six-year time frame, and we have learned a lot along the way. In the spirit of transparency and shared learning, our new report, Changing Grant Making to Change the World, which we’re publishing in partnership with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, offers a set of early lessons we think can help other grantmakers who are interested in changing entrenched systems and supporting nonprofit sustainability.

In the first 18 months of BUILD, I hired a seasoned team and together we codified a theory of change, developed an evaluation and learning framework, crafted a technical assistance strategy to benefit BUILD grantees, rolled out a multilingual organizational assessment, and trained hundreds 
of Ford Foundation staff. Most importantly, we worked collaboratively with that staff to make more than 200 BUILD grants that span the range of nonprofits around the world.

Eighteen months later, we may not have all of the answers, but Changing Grant Making to Change the World highlights six important early lessons:

  1. Nonprofits thrive with larger, longer, more flexible grants.
  2. Long-term, flexible grants work best when they closely align with strategy.
  3. Grants like these can foster deeper relationships between grantmakers and the organizations they support—but money can’t buy trust.
  4. Grants like these can work anywhere in the world.
  5. Supporting institutions is critical—but so is catalyzing and supporting networks.
  6. Patience is a virtue. So is rigorous evaluation.

Read the full article about reflections on impacting inequality by Kathy Reich at Alliance Magazine.