Scaling Solutions Case Studies

Research for the Scaling Solutions initiative included interviews of approximately three dozen individuals in either funder collaboratives or organizations that aim for significant scale to shift systems. We also conducted secondary research and held many discussions to further explore themes in a variety of contexts.  From those efforts, several case studies emerged as worthy of being highlighted.  A few of those are found below.

The With and For Girls Collective (WFGC) is a group of organizations that share the common belief that girls are vital agents of change. The Collective has a goal to ensure girl-led and girl-centered organizations around the world have the resources and platforms they lack and need to drive change.

Escuela Nueva is a 30-year-old Colombian education NGO. One of the longest running bottom up innovations of the developing world, it was initiated to reach the isolated, rural multi-grade schools in Colombia to guarantee availability and improve the quality of primary education.

Fondation de France (FdF), or as it is often referred to, “la Fondation de toutes les causes” (a foundation for all causes), serves a role similar to that of a community foundation—but for an entire country. FdF hosts more than 800 other foundations, including community, corporate, and private funders.

Launched in 2017, 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.

Fund for Shared Insight is a funder collaborative aimed at improving philanthropy through joint grantmaking. It puts special emphasis on promoting feedback to help nonprofits and foundations be more connected and responsive to the people and communities they seek to serve.

Educate Girls is an NGO dedicated to reducing gender inequality in India by facilitating education for out of school girls in educationally disadvantaged districts. Eleven years on, what began as a pilot of 500 schools has expanded to programming in 26,000+ schools across 16 districts in India.

The Detroit “Grand Bargain” is an example of a group of philanthropic actors who collectively worked together and focused their efforts on one geographic area: the city of Detroit, Michigan.

After an annual event promoted by Asociación de Fundaciones Familiares y Empresariales(AFE) of Colombia in 2015, 17 member foundations formed a partnership to launch ‘Learning Together to Work Together’ – the Antioquia Collective Project. By September 2017, the foundations had agreed to focus their project on water.

Through a collaboration between philanthropy, business, and stakeholders in government, medicine, schools, and local communities, the END Fund has shown the world that controlling and eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is possible with a deeply systems-oriented approach.

The Freedom Fund collaborative was launched in 2013 by three independent philanthropies: the Walk Free Foundation, Legatum, and Humanity United. The collaborative’s objective was to address the significant gap in philanthropic resources supporting anti-slavery efforts.

Now just over 10 years old, the Arctic Funders Collaborative (AFC) is a learning community primarily focused on knowledge exchange, learning opportunities, and raising the profile of the Arctic region.

The Art for Justice Fund (the Fund) is a five-year capital aggregation initiative of influential funders who seek to reduce mass incarceration in the U.S.

Muso was born out of partnership between Malians and Americans to address unequal access to healthcare in Mali.  Founded in 2005, Muso’s mission is to eliminate preventable deaths rooted in poverty, with a vision of universal healthcare coverage.

The 2017 “Scaling Solutions” report profiled the achievements of Last Mile Health (LMH) in Liberia. Since then, the organization has announced an exciting new partnership with Living Goods (LG) as part of the Audacious Project. Living Goods is trying to reinvent community-delivered healthcare on a national basis.

International funder collaborative the Plastic Solutions Fund works to stem the tide of plastic pollution into the environment. It supports projects to reduce production of single-use plastic and packaging, focusing on key drivers of systems change in the plastic supply chain.

The European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), a collaborative fund begun in 2005 and hosted by the Network of European Foundations (, links the resources and expertise of foundations to strengthen the role of civil society in building inclusive communities and developing humane, sustainable responses to migration, based on Europe’s commitment to universal human rights and social justice.

The Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) is a donor collaborative of 6 foundations who believe that forest and sustainable land use are essential parts of combating climate change.

In 2004, a group of 11 funders came together in support of the agenda of freedom to marry to win state-by-state marriage equality across the U.S. The funder collective, known as the Civil Marriage Collaborative (CMC), was housed at Proteus Fund and led by Paul Di Donato from 2007 until its closure. It pooled over $20 million in financial resources to strategically target grantmaking in support of marriage equality, while creating a learning community of funders who applied the collaborative’s experiences and strategies to their own grantmaking.

Moved by the power of collective action demonstrated in the Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring, and anti-austerity campaigns, a group of eight friends (philanthropists, academics, and activists) came together to talk about how best to fund movement organizing, eventually forming the donor network Solidaire. It launched in 2013 to meet urgent funding needs, support innovative movement-building methods, and construct the long-term philanthropic infrastructure necessary to address deep US structural inequalities. Today Solidaire is a community of 160+ members interested in giving in a more just, strategic, coordinated, and transformative way.

B Lab, profiled in last year’s report, is in its twelfth year. An expanding number of companies is engaging with its mission to redefine success in business: becoming Certified B Corporations, adopting legal structures like the benefit corporation statute, and using the B Impact Assessment (BlA) to assess, compare and improve their impact.

In our 2017 report Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems, we profiled Health Leads, which “strives to inculcate a deeper understanding of the unmet social needs of patients into the healthcare system to shift that ecosystem towards creating health,” in founder Rebecca Onie’s words.  She emphasizes the importance of funders providing long-term, flexible funding for causes and organizations that will create sustained changes to systems to improve people’s lives.

In 2011, the Iniciativa Regional para el Reciclaje Inclusivo (IRRI) was established to launch a regional initiative that focused on the socio-economic conditions of waste pickers and the improvement of waste management systems.

In 2014, Magui Rubalcava Shulman founded Borealis Philanthropy to help grantmakers expand their reach and impact in communities underserved by traditional philanthropy. Borealis acts as a philanthropic intermediary connecting grantmakers to grantees and enables funders to make grants they would not otherwise be able to make.

Big Bang Philanthropy started in 2012 when six funders realized they were frequently co-funding grantees and exchanging ideas informally. They decided to continue to do so but with more structure around due diligence, grantee sourcing, and learning. After four years, Big Bang grew to 15 funders and has maintained that level of participation.

China Donors Roundtable (CDR) is a technical support organization established in 2015 by Narada Foundation, the Dunhe Foundation, China Merchants Charity Foundation, Macao Tong Chai Charity Association, and Kaifeng Foundation, with the goal of improving Chinese philanthropy and helping Chinese grantmakers develop the organizational capacity necessary to tackle key social issues within China. CDR provides members with training in grantmaking strategy, issue research and analysis, and organizational capacity building.

Resource Generation (RG) occupies a unique position in the funder collaborative landscape. It is a national, multi-racial organization of young people ages 18-35 in the top 10% of the economy who are using their resources and class privilege for racial and economic justice. It is structured as a membership organization organized into locally-led chapters around the country. It’s for and run by young people, organized around common, clearly-stated values and beliefs. Its mission is to organize young people with wealth and class privilege in the U.S. to become transformative leaders working towards the equitable distribution of wealth, land and power.