An update letter from Lever for Change CEO, Cecilia Conrad:
“I am delighted and humbled to share the news that we have surpassed our initial goal of helping donors award $1 billion in funding! Since Lever for Change launched as a pilot project in 2019, our mission has been to help donors find and fund bold solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. Our initial hope was to drive $1 billion for bold solutions by 2023. Thanks to the initial commitments of 11 donors who sponsored customized challenges and dedicated efforts to leverage additional philanthropic capital, we have exceeded that goal a year early!”Download our Impact Report PDF
Our mission is to help solve the world’s biggest problems—including issues of racial equity, gender equality, access to economic opportunity, climate change, and more.
We embolden donors to think big and increase their philanthropic impact. We understand that solving big problems requires ambition, urgency, scale, and significant resources.
Our organization was born of the success of MacArthur’s 100&Change Challenge, which awarded its first $100 million grant in 2017, spurring the philanthropic sector to rethink its approach to achieving impact at scale. MacArthur launched Lever for Change as an affiliate to apply this model to help other funders run large-scale challenges.
By connecting donors with problem solvers—through customized challenges and tailored funding opportunities—Lever for Change helps donors to find and fund bold, effective solutions to accelerate social change.
What sets Lever for Change apart from other philanthropic advisors is our emphasis on open and equitable sourcing of ideas, funding at scale, and trust in grantees' to define solutions. We are changing who and what gets funded.
In the past three years, we have designed and managed 11 customized challenges on behalf of a variety of donor partners and their advisors—from high-profile donors including Pivotal Ventures (Melinda French Gates’ investment and incubation company) to institutional funders like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, corporate funders such as the LEGO Foundation, and philanthropic advisors like ICONIQ Impact, as well as new and anonymous donors.
We center our work on the core values of openness, transparency, equity, and inclusion. We take intentional steps to ensure these values are represented throughout the services we provide and in each of our challenges. Using an inclusive, equitable model and due diligence process, we have supported grants of $10 million to $100 million on behalf of donors.
To date, we have received proposals from approximately 6,000 applicants from 130 countries. Every Lever for Change challenge generates more impactful proposals than any single donor can fund. In 2020, we created the Bold Solutions Network—a growing global network of highly rated proposals from our challenges that are well-positioned to accelerate social change.
We are excited to share the impact of the funding that we have helped activate so far—from the 20,640 new entrepreneurs in Uganda and Ethiopia who will establish 6,880 new businesses, to the million refugees across at least 10 countries who will gain the support they need to survive and thrive over the next five years, and the 10 million Texans who will have access to the mental health care they deserve. These are just some of the people who are benefitting from the connections we have made between funders and problem solvers. Find more examples of impact in our timeline below.
Learning is vital to everything we do. Lever for Change exists and operates within the larger context of philanthropy, a field that is changing fast, in many ways, all over the globe. The challenges that we design and manage generate lots of information, knowledge, and feedback.
For the past three years, our team has supported projects, often in partnership with others, that have shared important insights and influenced the practice of philanthropy:
- In coordination with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, we helped develop a guide on prize philanthropy.
- In collaboration with the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, we developed a toolkit called “Choosing Change: How to Assess Grant Proposals for Their Potential to Address Structural Inequality.”
- Working with Candid, MIT, Charity Navigator, and the Philanthropy Data Commons, we helped set new norms on data-sharing in philanthropy.
Timeline of Challenges
Although we have reached our initial goal of leveraging $1 billion in funding from donors, which is certainly cause for celebration, we will not rest on our laurels. This is only the beginning.
Encouraging as this progress is, it is modest compared to the scale of the problems the world faces and how they affect the lives of people and communities everywhere. Therefore, we are committed to becoming more ambitious as we grow: our next goal is to unlock $2.5 billion in funding for as many bold solutions as possible by 2025.
Recognizing our partners
We would not have been able to achieve this important milestone without the generous support provided by:
Since our launch, we have partnered with exceptional funders and advisors to create customized challenges tackling the world’s biggest problems. We want to extend special thanks to:
As the world continues to face significant problems, applicants to Lever for Change challenges and our Bold Solutions Network members are stepping up. We are always impressed by the ambition and passion of this growing global community of problem solvers who imagine and articulate big ideas to seemingly insurmountable problems. Their remarkable work is driving toward a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.
Lever for Change collaborates closely with many organizations to design and manage challenges, and strengthen applicant proposals. Our team works hard to ensure that every submission is well-positioned for grant funding from our donor partners. We want to thank the caring and expert teams at the following organizations for their continued support for Lever for Change and our Bold Solutions Network members: The Bridgespan Group, CAF America, Carrot, Catchafire, Dalberg Advisors, FundJoy, Herald Advisors, Imaginary Landscape, IMAGO Global Grassroots, Marts&Lundy, Mobility International USA, MSI, Mt. Auburn Associates, Nonprofit Finance Fund, Nonprofit Utopia, Open Tech Strategies, Rehmah Kasule Consultancy Services, Sattva, Submittable, and the TCC Group.
Last but not least, we would like to recognize our Board of Directors, who have been instrumental in providing guidance and counsel, and our own team of experts who bring decades of experience across the philanthropic spectrum and passion to their daily work.