A new resource to dive deep on donor collaboratives

Smiling boys look through an open window at a school in Uganda.
Photo by Bill Wegener via Unsplash

It probably goes without saying that we are big believers in the power of philanthropy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

But our belief extends well beyond our own grantmaking. We know millions of donors every day contribute their time, talent, and money to make positive changes and reduce inequities around the world. And we know there is enormous potential - and need - for philanthropists to do more, particularly those with the highest capacity to give.

As a member of the foundation’s Philanthropic Partnerships team, a big part of my work involves supporting novel approaches to philanthropy that can help donors give more, and ensure their resources have the greatest possible impact on the people and communities who need them.

As we have explored the philanthropic landscape over the last few years, we have seen an impressive array of creative approaches to giving and novel solutions for channeling generosity where it can do the most good.

Among the innovations we’ve encountered, we have been particularly excited about the efficiency, energy, and momentum of philanthropic collaboratives.

Collaboratives bring like-minded donors together so they can make bigger bets, invest in bolder solutions and connect with experts who know how to make lasting change – particularly on complex issues such as climate change and gender equality. And because collaboratives are frequently led by people who are members of the communities they serve, collaboratives are building bridges between donors and the people they support. Also, the largest collaboratives are uniquely well situated to move significant sums of philanthropic capital and put it to work quickly and effectively.

The Gates Foundation’s belief in the advantages of collective giving led us to fund some of the first formal philanthropic collaboratives, such as the END Fund and Co-Impact. And many of our strategy teams continue to leverage collaboratives to help achieve their strategic goals, from improving global health to increasing economic opportunity.

We believe collaboratives can help many more philanthropists come together to accelerate their giving and do more to help people and communities in need.

That, in a nutshell, is why we created this website.

We know from research conducted by the Bridgespan Group that more than 400 collaborative giving vehicles exist today and most are relatively new, with more than 60% founded since 2010. Much of that expansion is driven by donors, who value the deep knowledge that collaborative staff possess as well as the relationships and networks they possess. Collaboratives are also valuable for nonprofits and community organizations that might not have the profile or marketing budgets to get on the radar of large donors.

Despite all this growth and the advantages that collaboratives can provide, awareness of them remains relatively low. And though there are many commonalities across them, collaboratives are not well understood as a sector. There are also relatively few places to learn more about what collaboratives are, how they work, where they focus and how to get involved in them.

We hope this website will be a resource for any one who wants to answer some of those questions. We particularly hope to raise donors’ awareness of collaboratives, and inspire them to give more to and through collaboratives to achieve their philanthropic goals and advance equity around the world.

My team and I welcome your feedback on the site and any questions you might have about collaboratives, so feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].