Beyond Dollars: Investing in Big Change

Philanthropy has the power to be a catalyst for BIG change, and this report (PDF) offers examples of foundations and corporate giving programs using this power with intentionality. When Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers looked at examples of local grantmakers who have used the power of philanthropy to generate BIG change, they observed four common elements:

1. Capitalizing on timing and momentum
Coordinating action with national initiatives, sudden groundswells of public sentiment, or moments of crisis can help philanthropy achieve its long-term goals.

2. Being a strong voice
Foundations and corporate giving programs are able to use their position to influence decision makers and to ensure that communities have a voice in solving their own problems. By asking, listening, sharing, and advocating, grantmakers create platforms that reveal or amplify issues and pathways that lead to lasting solutions.

3. Leveraging key resources
Grantmakers can go beyond dollars to leverage support in many other ways, from providing a local investment that opens the door to support from national funding sources, to commissioning the research that enables evidence-based practice to occur, to creating opportunities for more citizens to be actively involved in improving public policy.

4. Building true partnerships
In most instances, problems are so big and so entrenched that they can only be tackled through collaboration, coordination, and organized efforts. Partnerships may be small or large, formal or informal, short-term or long-term, and may include partners who don’t otherwise come together easily or naturally. Grant dollars don’t have to be pooled for partnerships to work—it’s the pooling of knowledge and the shared focus on a problem that allows grantmakers to achieve lasting impact.


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