Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems

Realizing that the world’s pressing challenges are becoming more complex, many philanthropic funders are reflecting on how to create more transformational impact.

To help answer that question, the Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems initiative was launched in 2016 as an inquiry: Can we encourage collaborative, longer-term, adaptive resources to fund and accelerate scalable solutions targeting systemic changes around pressing global issues? Since then, the initiative’s steering group and team, with representation from the Skoll, Ford and Draper Richards Kaplan Foundations, Porticus, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, has examined when, how, and why certain solutions were able to grow and achieve the system-level shifts that were anticipated.

Our 2018 Report:

Approaches for Impact, Approaches for Learning

In 2018, our research focused on two questions that surfaced from our initial analysis. The first question sought to identify how and why funders successfully moved from endorsing approaches identified in the first report (streamlining, collaborating, accelerating impact, learning, and empowering grantees) to actually improving their policies and practices around those approaches. The second area of inquiry delved into what lessons we can learn from existing funder collaborative models aimed at systems change. Research has shown that funder peer-to-peer influencing and networked approaches are the best routes to improving practice in the philanthropy sector, so this second report highlights effective practices and funder collaboratives that are gaining momentum. To review several of the case studies that informed our findings, see Featured Case Studies below.

Click here to read the 2018 report.

This report is also available in Spanish and Portuguese:


Our 2017 Report:

Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems

The initiative’s first report, Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems, highlighted organizations that had scaled solutions and how funders had helped or hindered the process. In it, we detail our findings that funders can help grantees scale toward shifting systems by:

  • Streamlining processes for application and reporting;
  • Collaborating more effectively;
  • Accelerating impact through non-monetary support;
  • Learning more about systems change; and
  • Empowering grantees and by intentionally shifting the power dynamics between the givers and receivers of funds.

Click here to read the 2017 report in English.

This report is also available in Spanish and Portuguese:

Featured Case Studies