In February, we launched the Regranting Challenge, aiming to add $150 million in funding to the budgets of outstanding grantmakers at other foundations.
We saw the Challenge as an opportunity to maximize our impact, by:
- Adding funding to high-impact work that was already underway. We’ve long been inspired by the work of other grantmakers, and we believe there are highly effective grantmaking organizations doing better work than we could in their respective spaces. Instead of reinventing the wheel, we’ve used the Regranting Challenge to give some of those organizations additional funding, so they can increase the scale and scope of their own work.
- Piloting a new approach to growing highly effective grantmaking programs. The lack of feedback mechanisms that ensure effective grantmakers get more money to allocate is a major shortcoming in the existing philanthropic ecosystem. The Regranting Challenge gave us a chance to experiment with changing that dynamic.
- Learning from a wide range of grantmakers with different approaches. By creating an open call, we were able to identify highly effective foundations and program areas to support that we wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
After eight months, three selection rounds, and evaluations from dozens of experts (inside and outside Open Philanthropy), we’ve chosen the awardees!
We’ll share a brief description of each program here, but you can learn more about them on the Regranting Challenge website.
Development Innovation Ventures: $45,000,000
Development Innovation Ventures is a program inside the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). They invest in early-stage organizations and projects in global health and development that have the potential to be highly impactful and cost-effective. They’ve supported programs in water sanitation, early childhood education, and routine immunization (among others).
Eleanor Crook Foundation: $25,000,000
The Eleanor Crook Foundation funds research and advocacy to end global malnutrition. They have a track record of successfully advocating for the increased use of the “Power 4” malnutrition interventions — prenatal vitamins for pregnant women, breastfeeding support for mothers, vitamin A supplementation, and ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat wasting.
Global Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: $5,000,000
The Global Education program at the Gates Foundation makes grants to organizations that aredeveloping and improving highly effective education interventions. These interventions — namely remediation, structured pedagogy, and teaching at the right level — have been shown to improve foundational literacy and numeracy in low- and middle-income countries.
Global Health Innovation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: $65,000,000
We are supporting two global health initiatives at the Gates Foundation. The first ($40,000,000) will fund grantees who are advancing a new vaccine through efficacy trials against tuberculosis in adults and adolescents. The second ($25,000,000) will fund grantees who are helping a new vaccine manufacturer supply oral cholera vaccine — which will diversify the vaccine’s manufacturing base and increase vaccine supply to better meet global demand.
Tara Climate Foundation: $10,000,000
Tara Climate Foundation focuses on climate change mitigation in South, Southeast, and East Asia (excluding China and India). They help found new nonprofits and grow the climate movement across this region. In addition to climate impacts, their work could also lead to substantial improvements in air quality.
Here’s more on how we arrived at our set of awardees:
- Round 1 (expression of interest): We received over 100 expressions of interest from foundations around the world.
- Round 2 (summary of track record): We invited over 60 of the most promising candidates to submit written applications (with a 5,000-word limit) focused on their historic track records.
- Round 3 (funding proposal): We chose 10 finalists and asked each of them to submit a proposal for how they would use new funding. We then shared each proposal with a team of expert reviewers in addition to undertaking our own analyses.
For more detail on our selection process, visit the Regranting Challenge website.
What we learned
We’re hoping to write more in the future about our learnings from this process. Some initial thoughts:
- We were surprised and impressed by the strength of the applications we received. When we launched the Challenge, we weren’t sure we’d be able to allocate all of the funding while staying above our bar. That bar went up ~50% over the course of the year, largely because of the decline in our available assets, but we believe all awardees were able to clear this new higher bar.
- Structuring the Challenge as an open call sourced a larger and broader set of high-impact programs than we anticipated. We we received expressions of interest in roughly even proportions across our three focus areas (climate, economic development, and health). None of the programs we ended up funding were among those we thought we were most likely to receive grants when we began the process. Additionally, we had anticipated most likely regranting to 1-3 programs, but found more exceptional programs than we expected.
- That said, we know that many applicants, including those we didn’t ultimately select, spent a significant amount of time on the Challenge, which is a real cost. Now that we’ve announced our decisions, we plan to survey all applicants about the process to learn more about the scale of those costs and how to improve any similar processes we run in the future.
- Declining marginal returns are real, even with the most effective programs. We thought that many applicants had stellar average returns. However, in many of those cases, we were less sold on the value of further funding on the margin.
- There were many foundations that did not meet our eligibility criteria, but that we would have been excited to evaluate. For practical reasons, we constrained participation to programs that had undertaken more than $10 million in grantmaking per year for at least the last three years. At the beginning of this process, we received numerous applications from promising programs that did not meet that criterion. We aren’t yet sure whether we’ll repeat the Regranting Challenge, but if we do, one avenue we would be excited to explore is expansion to smaller organizations.
We hope that our check-ins with awardees over the coming months and years will help us learn about the impact of this funding. We answer some other anticipated questions on the Regranting Challenge website.