Foundations call on themselves to get better


Alliance magazine


Last month, the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), engaged by the Skoll Foundation, and working together with a Steering Group composed of the Porticus, Ford and Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, published a report looking at funder behaviour from a grantee perspective.

Entitled Scaling solutions towards shifting systems, its aim is to encourage funders to move from funding individual projects to supporting more sustained, deeper-level transformations in society. This marks the shift in recent years as funders have begun to focus more on their own practices, not just those of grantees, in creating impact.

The group conducted a series of interviews with nonprofts and social enterprises, exploring their experiences of funder behaviour, engaging only with organizations they believed have the intent and ability to scale their impact significantly in ways that could contribute to solving system-level challenges. Simultaneously, RPA began interviewing funders to ascertain funder receptivity to the themes emerging from these interviews.

Significant areas of consensus emerged, from which a series of recommendations were drawn up. Among these was an emphasis on the need to shift the power dynamic in favour of the grantees. Funders were also encouraged to develop more knowledge on shifting systems, and how and when to support grantees in that effort, as well then collaborating and sharing this intelligence. Ways to provide non-monetary support, such as leveraging networks, connections, and expertise to further benefit grantees, were also explored.

This report only summarizes the findings of the first phase of work. Moving forward, the team behind it invite others to join them as they ‘delve more deeply into how we can reach a wider circle of funders who are committed to both adapting their own behavior, and serving as examples for the broader community in the months and years to come’.

To read the full report, see here.

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