Giving Compass' Take:

• Rachel Flynn highlights learnings from two approaches to donor-led innovation: Scaling Solutions and BUILD. 

• How can funders best learn from the work of these organizations and others like them? 

• Learn about making big bets in philanthropy

In recognition of the complexity and interconnectedness of so many of the world’s most pressing challenges, institutional funders have been thinking deeply—and collaboratively—about how to create more transformational impact.

Scaling Solutions

Scaling Solutions, an initiative that encourages funders to work collaboratively to make longer-term, more adaptive and more flexible resources available to their grantees in order to support scalable systems-level change, is now in its third year. Representing this collaborative effort, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ Heather Grady shared recommendation and findings from the initiative’s first report.

Grady closed with a summary of the initiative’s three most significant lessons learned to date:

  • Most successful systems change collaboratives start with small number of funders with existing relationships and grow from there
  • Identifying and supporting strong leadership is key for success
  • Monitoring and evaluation remains the area of greatest donor interest, and a focus of the Scaling Solutions group going forward

The Ford Foundation’s BUILD (Building Institutions and Networks) initiative, represented during the webinar by its director, Kathy Reich, is another example of a strategic and adaptive new donor model. The five-year, $1 billion investment by the Ford Foundation provides general operating support to its 300 grantee organizations alongside support for assessment and institutional strengthening, peer learning opportunities and rigorous evaluations.

Lessons and learnings from BUILD’s first eighteen months are outlined in their report, Changing Grant Making to Change the World, and include that:

  • Nonprofits thrive with longer, larger, more flexible grants
  • Long-term, flexible grants work best when they align with strategy
  • Grants like these build stronger relationships between funders and grantees
  • Trust must still be built with time and effort
  • These types of grants work anywhere in the world
  • Supporting networks and institutions is critical
  • Rigorous evaluation is important for gauging success, impact, and grantee satisfaction

Read the full article about donor-led innovation by Rachel Flynn at Skoll Foundation.