Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems

Realizing that the world’s pressing challenges are becoming more complex, many philanthropic funders are reflecting on how to create more transformational impact.

To help answer that question, the Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems initiative was launched in 2016 as an inquiry: Can we encourage collaborative, longer-term, adaptive resources to fund and accelerate scalable solutions targeting systemic changes around pressing global issues? Since then, the initiative’s steering group and team, with representation from the Skoll, Ford and Draper Richards Kaplan Foundations, Porticus, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, has examined when, how, and why certain solutions were able to grow and achieve the system-level shifts that were anticipated.

In 2018, their research focused on two questions that surfaced from our initial analysis. The first question sought to identify how and why funders successfully moved from endorsing approaches identified in the first report (streamlining, collaborating, accelerating impact, learning, and empowering grantees) to actually improving their policies and practices around those approaches. The second area of inquiry delved into what lessons we can learn from existing funder collaborative models aimed at systems change. Research has shown that funder peer-to-peer influencing and networked approaches are the best routes to improving practice in the philanthropy sector, so this second report highlights effective practices and funder collaboratives that are gaining momentum.

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