Celebrating the one-year anniversary of our Bold Solutions Network

May 17, 2021

Time flies. It’s been just over a year since our team at Lever for Change launched the Bold Solutions Network. Born of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition for $100 million, Lever for Change unlocks capital that might otherwise remain on the sidelines. We embolden donors to make larger grants than are typical in philanthropy—$10 million or more—through customized competitions, which provide the opportunity for donors, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs to connect and solve global challenges together. We then amplify the top-ranked solutions in our Bold Solutions Network to catalyze investments in outstanding teams and accelerate large-scale social change.

Kristen Molyneaux
Caption: Dr. Kristen Molyneaux

I’m delighted to report that, so far, we have unlocked more than $571 million in grants and provided ongoing support to over 100 top-ranked organizations. We are more than half-way toward our goal of driving $1 billion to scale high-impact solutions by 2023!

As with much of everything in 2020, launching the Network in the midst of a pandemic came with its own sets of challenges, dotted with the occasional silver lining. From the outset, the Bold Solutions Network was built on the idea of collaboration, as we sought ways to harness the collective wealth of ideas, partnerships, and learnings throughout the Network, coupled with our effort to lower the perceived barriers to giving for funders seeking investment-ready solutions.

In this first year, we have seen an incredible amount of success—from building the infrastructure to house the Network to creating and fostering relationships with an array of partners. Our team has worked tirelessly to identify collaborative opportunities for the benefit of our Network members. We have offered coaching and learning opportunities with a diverse panel of global experts. Fifty-three teams have taken full advantage of these offerings, focused on topics ranging from organizational resilience to effective communication and strategic fundraising.

Behind the scenes, we have shared the body of work encompassed in the Network with a variety of global donors looking for funding opportunities within their priority areas. We have provided curated information with key collaborators, such as Schmidt Futures, ICONIQ Impact, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, as well as institutional donors such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ballmer Group, and others. In total we have shared 140 proposals over 1,865 times, with over 105 donors.

As many of you working at nonprofits know, it can often take more than a year before donors make a significant commitment to an organization. We are now starting to see some of the fruits of our labor and, over the course of the coming months, we anticipate more exciting announcements. Stay tuned.

As we enter the second year of the Bold Solutions Network, we are excited about the future. We continue to learn about how to best support our members, how to build meaningful collaborations across organizations and donors, and how we can best share the field-level impact. We look forward to testing new learning opportunities for the Network and what creativity we will see afterward from members who take advantage of our new “Swift Grants” fund. We are also eager to feature more stories that profile the work of Network members’ impact on the ground.

After running nine competitions in 2020, we also have much to share about what we have learned, including: how organizations can best leverage their opportunity as a finalist, how Lever for Change can effectively catalyze funding, and how to best support finalist organizations during and after a competition. We will continue to share our learnings with the broader philanthropic community and Network members.

In the meantime, I look forward to the continued growth and evolution of Lever for Change and our Bold Solutions Network, and to building new partnerships focused on accelerating systems change across the philanthropic community. We believe that, by catalyzing larger funds, we can embolden the field of philanthropy to solve some of the most intractable social challenges around the world. We hope you will join us.

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