Changing Grant Making to Change the World: Reflecting on BUILD's First Year

Changing Grant Making to Change the World: Reflecting on BUILD's First Year

The Ford Foundation's BUILD program, a six-year, $1 billion initiative aimed at helping organizations address inequality, awarded five-year grants in its first eighteen months to more than two hundred advocacy organizations, grassroots organizers, think tanks, litigators, intermediaries, and narrative change organizations in twenty-seven countries, a report from the foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors finds. The report, Changing Grant Making to Change the World: Reflecting on BUILD's First Year (22 pages, PDF), outlines the rationale and goals of the initiative, which include measurably increasing the durability and resilience of grantee organizations and networks; making them more powerful, more impactful, and more networked in their fields; creating deeper, more strategic, and more trusting relationships between the foundation's program staff and grantees; and increasing understanding among other funders and NGOs of the role of institutional strengthening in advancing social justice. The report also offers six early lessons from the initiative: 1) nonprofits thrive with larger, longer-duration, more flexible grants; 2) flexible, longer-term grants have the greatest impact when they are closely aligned with strategy; 3) grants can foster deeper relationships between grantmakers and the organizations they support, although money can't buy trust; 4) flexible, longer-term grants can work anywhere in the world; 5) supporting institutions is critical, as is catalyzing and supporting networks; and 6) both and rigorous evaluation are virtues.