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September 24, 2018

Launched in late 2017, funder collaborative Co-Impact grew out of ideas that had been percolating for some time with its founding CEO, Olivia Leland, and colleagues in the philanthropy sector. Co-Impact is aimed at systems change, and plans to invest significant resources to advance education, improve health, and provide economic opportunity in developing regions around the world. Four individual founders and one institutional founder initially made commitments, and this group will be joined by others to form a community of donors who want to give and learn together, and to pool resources, networks, and expertise.

Within its first year, Co-Impact provided planning grants and consultant support to several organizations, and it intends to make five-year awards of $10-50 million per initiative. With a plan for an eight to ten year fund, it expects to award a total of eight to twelve systems change grants.

Leland, who ran the Giving Pledge at the Gates Foundation, observed that donors need less fragmented, more efficient, more coordinated, and higher-impact ways to channel their philanthropy. She also sees room for increased alignment with best practices. At the same time, leading social entrepreneurs looking to create lasting change at scale both require and have the capacity to utilize a much greater magnitude of support. Co-Impact’s aspiration is to fill this gap and demonstrate a model for others.

It is still early in the life span of this collaborative, but Leland’s colleague Abe Grindle (Director, Investments & Learning) is optimistic they will contribute something unique to the sector. “We are piloting a model to bring donors together to more efficiently and deeply support a small number of local systems change leaders, each working in close partnership with other key actors, to improve the lives of millions of people. Our goal is to provide these leaders with the magnitude and types of support required for such results, helping to fill an important gap in the funding marketplace.” The philanthropy sector will be watching this new collaborative with interest.

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