Scaling What Works

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The problems we seek to address are too large and complex for any one grantmaker to tackle alone, and the nonprofits we rely on to address these deep-rooted challenges lack the sizable, predictable and flexible funding they need. Strategic co-funding is a key way grantmakers of all types can expand the impact of their grants, leverage knowledge and resources (both philanthropic and public funds), and reduce administrative burdens on themselves and grantees.

On Feb. 21, 2013, in Washington, D.C., GEO brought together a group of approximately 140 grantmakers to explore different approaches to strategic co-funding. This day-long convening offered participants ample opportunities to deepen their knowledge and advance their practice around key areas such as

  • building trust;
  • developing joint strategies, goals and common processes (e.g., due diligence, reporting);
  • coordinating with public systems, policy and funders; and
  • collectively raising, administering and evaluating pooled grant dollars.

What Do We Mean by Co-Funding?

There is no one-size fits all approach to co-funding in philanthropy. Examples presented at the convening illustrated a range of co-funding formats, including the following:

  • Pooled funding (aka capital aggregation): Funders contribute to a collective fund, which may be jointly administered by the group or by a lead donor or third party.
  • Targeted co-funding: Funders deliberately but independently make a grant to the same program, organization or issue.
  • Strategic alignment: Funders or partners agree to adopt joint or complementary strategies, in pursuit of a common goal.

Who Attended?

This convening was designed for grantmakers currently involved in or interested in being part of strategic co-funding partnerships. This convening was highly interactive and participants joined in the learning and sharing.

Convening Planning Committee

  • Tonya Allen
    Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Program
    The Skillman Foundation (Detroit, Mich.)
  • Carol Thompson Cole
    President and CEO
    Venture Philanthropy Partners (Washington, D.C.)
  • Lynn Coriano
    Director of Community Investment
    Social Venture Partners Seattle (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Cynthia Gair
    Managing Director
    REDF (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • Charles T. Harris III (Chuck)
    Portfolio Manager, Director of Capital Aggregation
    The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (New York, N.Y.)
  • Mary Mountcastle
    Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (Durham, N.C.)
  • Bill Pitkin
    Director, Domestic Programs
    Conrad N. Hilton Foundation (Los Angeles, Calif.)

The Scaling What Works initiative has come to a close

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