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Learning by Leading: Giving and Receiving Feedback

December 16, 2021

In 2021, our team at Lever for Change engaged in an information refresh process with members of our growing network of problem solvers, the Bold Solutions Network, which showcases the highest-ranked proposals that have emerged from each of our challenges.

Head shot of Brenda Urueta, Lever for Change Summer 2021 Intern
Caption: Brenda Urueta, Social Impact Intern

Written by Brenda Urueta, Lever for Change Social Impact Intern

In 2021, our team at Lever for Change engaged in an information refresh process with members of our growing network of problem solvers, the Bold Solutions Network, which showcases the highest-ranked proposals that have emerged from each of our challenges. Working within philanthropists’ interests, we offer curated lists of problem solvers from our Bold Solutions Network who are working in specific geographic settings and in issue areas that philanthropists care about. As philanthropists narrow their list of potential grantees, we provide additional context and information about the strength of the project, opportunities for team growth, and how the work fits into the overall program landscape. The information we manage and share is critical to this collaborative process.

The focus of the refresh was to update project information, collect demographics from key project members, allow teams to opt into continuing their membership, and to collect information on leveraged funds attributed to their participation in one of our challenges. Following the one-year anniversary launch of the Bold Solutions Network, we’re sharing insights and results of our information refresh.

At Lever for Change, learning is a key part of everything that we do. Each challenge presents an opportunity to learn — with a focus on making the process more equitable, accessible, and efficient — and on pushing problem solvers to think big and philanthropists to give big. As part of our annual impact evaluation, we track how much capital is leveraged for our Bold Solutions Network members. This information, together with qualitative feedback, helps us understand if we are hitting our goals of sourcing diverse and bold ideas — while unlocking sufficient capital for social change through additional funding.

Lever for Change's Goals
Caption: Lever for Change's Goals; Source: Lever for Change's 2020 Annual Learning and Evaluation Report

Providing Support and Raising Visibility

The Bold Solutions Network launched in early 2020 with plans to engage the teams with top proposals in 100&Change, the MacArthur Foundation’s $100 million competition, and other Lever for Change competitions. Through the Bold Solutions Network, our team markets vetted solutions to interested donors and shares high-impact proposals ready to scale with additional funding.

The Bold Solutions Network provides a space for finalists to get to know each other, learn together, discover new partnerships, and further build their capacity to implement their bold ideas. We support Network members to ensure they are prepared to work at scale to achieve historic impact.

The Bold Solutions Network is a vital component of our mission to accelerate social change, by helping philanthropists find, evaluate, and fund a pipeline of turnkey solutions, as well as matching vetted organizations with significant sources of funding. In addition, we provide curated lists of proposals based on the philanthropic goals of donors.

Cecilia Conrad, CEO, Lever for Change

As part of our information refresh, we surveyed Bold Solutions Network members about funding they attributed to their involvement with Lever for Change. Survey data shows that 17% of the organizations that responded (the survey had an 84% response rate) attributed $542.74 million in total leveraged funds to Lever for Change’s competition process at the time of the survey.

There are various ways in which teams attribute additional funding to a Lever for Change competition. First, the proposal feedback process that is part of every Lever for Change competition enables organizations to iterate on their ideas, improve their proposals, and continue prospecting for their projects.

In an earlier post on the value-add of our competition process, we discussed how we facilitate multiple levels of review and feedback throughout the competition life cycle. Applicants across our competitions (93% of respondents) found the process to be valuable in helping them refine their proposals for use with other donors and unlocking additional capital.

Secondly, we find opportunities to share proposals from the Bold Solutions Network with an array of donors — all of whom are looking for potential high-impact investments — and offer support for their decision-making process, which can reduce the perceived risk of investing in social change and lead to additional funding for Bold Solutions Network members.

Initially, in 2019, when we designed Lever for Change as a model to catalyze philanthropic giving, we set ourselves an ambitious goal of unlocking $1 billion dollars in capital by 2023. We are already more than three-quarters of the way to surpassing that goal.

See other lessons we've learned from our information refresh process in this article, Leading by Learning: Getting to Know our Bold Solutions Network Members. To get the latest updates on Lever for Change's progress right in your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.

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