About collaboratives

Building on global traditions of collective giving to improve lives and strengthen communities.
A colorful mosaic depicts a person handing a flower to another.
Photo by Giulia May via Unsplash
FAQ

Mosaics of generosity

Collaborative funds are powerful reminders that we can be much more than the sum of our parts. When givers align their energy, generosity, and hope toward a common goal, the results can be extraordinary.  Dive into the questions below to learn more.

Generosity is a universal human impulse, and like-minded givers have long found ways to come together to achieve shared goals. But there is nothing natural about giving effectively at a large scale or ensuring resources are directed where they are needed most.

Donor collaboratives are philanthropic organizations that bring givers together, supply deep subject matter expertise, and channel resources to the people and nonprofits best positioned to accelerate progress on complex, systemic issues such as poverty, climate change, racial equity, and global health.

Collaboratives are among the fastest growing segments of philanthropy. Through research commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Bridgespan Group identified more than 400 collaborative giving platforms in 2022, with more than half of them formed since 2010. Most are based in the US and Europe although they are also increasingly popular in India, parts of Africa, and elsewhere.

Donor collaboratives take a range of approaches that evolve based on the needs of communities and the donors who support them. Most collaboratives follow one of three models:

  • Issue-focused: This model targets specific topics or objectives, such as improving maternal health or combating climate change, and directs philanthropic dollars toward promising solutions. 

  • Curated: This model draws on strong networks and deep subject-matter expertise to identify high-impact funding opportunities. The collaboratives curate those options based on their strategic fit with donors’ passions and interests. 

  • Competition-based: Several popular donor collaboratives hold competitions among social innovators and community-based organizations as a way to identify and fund promising solutions to pressing issues.


Donor collaboratives take many forms and focus their giving on a range of issues. What they have in common is a collective purpose to address the needs of the individuals, communities, and nonprofits on the front lines of social issues.

Recent research identified hundreds of collaboratives that have collectively channeled more than US$20 billion to social causes, from ending neglected tropical diseases and childhood poverty, to advancing gender equality—and noted their capacity to do much more. 

For grantees, collaboratives can open doors to new funding opportunities, reduce dependency on a single large donor, and streamline reporting processes by reducing the need to report results separately to multiple individual funders.

For donors, collaboratives provide the opportunity to learn from other givers, engage with trusted experts, and support high impact organizations ranging from intergenerational movement organizers to social innovators on the cusp of the next breakthrough.

The specialized knowledge, skills, and relationships that collaboratives possess enable them to bring donor attention to community leaders and organizations that they might not otherwise encounter.

How do collaboratives advance equity?

70%

In a 2022 survey of collaborative leaders, the most frequently cited focus areas were gender equity and racial and ethnic justice. Over 70% of funds described racial and ethnic equity or gender equity as a “core” or “intentional” focus of their work.

58%

That emphasis is also reflected in the diversity of leaders and staff at collaboratives. Collaboratives are far more likely to have leaders of color than traditional philanthropic organizations, with 58% of individuals in the top role identifying as a person of color. These funds are also more likely to be led by women or gender non-binary individuals.

Who gives through collaboratives?

A rapidly expanding community of philanthropists are embracing collaboratives to achieve their goals—from long-time donors seeking to diversify their giving portfolio to newer donors who want to explore new and more effective ways to accelerate their giving.   
A close up of Strive and Tsitsi Masiyiwa smiling. Strive (left) wears a royal blue polo shirt under a grey suit jacket. Tsitsi (right) wears a red and white patterned shirt with large white earrings.
Strive and Tsitsi Masiyiwa
African entrepreneurs and philanthropists Strive and Tsitsi Masiyiwa use the power of collective giving to complement their broader philanthropic work on the continent. Mr. and Mrs. Masiyiwa have participated in Co-Impact’s Gender Fund. Their organization, Higherlife Foundation, also collaborates with END Fund to implement initiatives in Zimbabwe.
Philanthropists Rohini Nilekani (left) and Nandan Nilekani (right) smile. Rohini holds Nandan’s left arm in warm embrace.
Nandan and Rohini Nilekani
Rohini and Nandan Nilekani embrace the power of collective giving to address critical needs globally, by supporting a number of collaboratives such as Co-Impact, the India Climate Collaborative, Co-Develop and Dasra, a venture philanthropy fund that invests in non-profit organizations in India. 
Philanthropists Lynn Schusterman (left) and daughter Stacy Schusterman (right) smile, with Stacy’s arm around Lynn’s shoulders.
Schusterman Family Philanthropies
Schusterman Family Philanthropies supports Blue Meridian Partners and Collaborative for Gender + Reproductive Equity as part of its work to advance racial, gender, and economic equity. The family also partners with the Collective Future Fund, which works to eliminate violence against women.