How does Lever for Change help philanthropists who want to give to social change causes?
Lever for Change is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to unlock significant philanthropic capital and help donors leverage their resources to accelerate social change around the world’s biggest challenges. Building on the success of MacArthur’s 100&Change, Lever for Change connects donors with high-impact philanthropic opportunities through the design and management of customized competitions and by matching donors with the top vetted proposals from such competitions showcased in the Bold Solutions Network. Through a rigorous approach, we provide philanthropists with opportunities to invest in the most promising, bold ideas that move the needle on the issues they care about most.
What challenge is the Lever for Change model designed to address?
Lever for Change is designed to help philanthropists overcome the challenges that often prevent them from achieving their philanthropic ambitions. While many philanthropists aspire to make “big bets” for social change, they often struggle to find, evaluate, and implement large grants, in part because they do not have the expertise or dedicated staff these efforts require.
Lever for Change provides donors with the expertise, infrastructure, and day-to-day support to identify the best ideas and solutions that align with their interests. We manage customized competitions on behalf of interested philanthropists, along with matching donors with the vetted proposals in the Bold Solutions Network, a searchable database which contains the top-ranked proposals from all of our competitions, including 100&Change.
What values underlie the Lever for Change approach?
Lever for Change centers its work on the core values of transparency, openness, equity, and inclusivity. We take intentional steps to ensure these values are represented throughout our activities and within each customized competition, including sourcing from diverse networks, and building community engagement into competition design from the beginning. We provide applicants with detailed information about the competition, such as evaluation criteria and scoring rubric, competition timeline and process, and the names of judges.
Who is involved in launching and operating Lever for Change?
Although it has its own 501(c)3 status and has separate board oversight, Lever for Change is an affiliate of the MacArthur Foundation. Lever for Change’s four-year pilot is being funded with a $20 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and a $5 million commitment from Lever for Change Board member Reid Hoffman, who has committed to provide an additional $5 million for technology support, as needed.
Lever for Change board members include Julia Stasch, former President of the MacArthur Foundation, Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, and Dr. James Manyika, senior partner at McKinsey & Company. Stasch serves as Board Chair. Cecilia Conrad serves as the organization’s CEO; Conrad is currently a managing director at MacArthur and oversees 100&Change as well as the MacArthur Fellows program.
What kinds of awards are philanthropists able to sponsor?
Lever for Change focuses on competitions that will lead to groundbreaking social change at a deep scale. All competitions must offer a minimum of $10 million to selected applicants. There is no maximum grant size. Philanthropists have wide latitude to create an award that will achieve impact in their area of interest on a range of design dimensions, including issue-focus, geographic location, philanthropist recognition, judging criteria, and final selection.
Are philanthropists able to support for-profit social enterprises or impact investments?
Yes. Lever for Change competitions can be designed to include a range of organizational structures, including but not limited to: nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations, for-profit corporations, benefit corporations, limited liability companies, joint ventures, and partnerships.
Can philanthropists choose to remain anonymous?
Yes, philanthropists who prefer to maintain their anonymity for any reason may do so. Some donors choose to remain anonymous to ensure the focus is on the competition itself rather than on who is funding it. They also may want to avoid influencing who chooses to apply for the competition.
How does Lever for Change support competition participants?
Lever for Change provides support to applicants in a variety of ways, including access to webinars, constructive feedback from judges and peers, and peer-learning opportunities. Additional resources that provide more intensive support, such as cohort-based workshops and coaching, may be available to select organizations and collaborations.
Furthermore, Lever for Change offers top applicants opportunities to gain greater visibility for funding from an array of donors. The highest-ranked proposals from all of our competitions are showcased in the Bold Solutions Network.
Does Lever for Change source ideas from global entities and for competitions based outside the United States?
Yes. While specific competitions may be structured to fund organizations based or working within a specific geographic location, Lever for Change is a global effort and can source and select outstanding entities from anywhere in the world. More than half of the inaugural 100&Change competition applicants were global in scope, as were almost half (47%) in the second round of 100&Change, with many based outside the United States.
What are the next steps for interested philanthropists?
Philanthropists who are interested in working with Lever for Change to host a competition or learn more about funding vetted, high-impact proposals in the Bold Solutions Network, should contact Dana Rice, Vice President of Philanthropy.