Day #4: Impact Philanthropy

At Ploughshares Fund, we believe that groups working together toward common goals can accomplish more than any one organization can accomplish by itself. This cooperative approach is at the heart of our new grantmaking philosophy, which we call impact philanthropy.

It’s a model that we developed during the New START campaign. Ploughshares Fund has always supported the smartest people with the best ideas, but the sudden need to overcome unexpected partisan gridlock inspired us to bring our grantees together into a cohesive network. We were blown away by the results. Working together to achieve a clearly defined goal allowed each grantee to focus on their own unique strengths, knowing that the other groups were filling the gaps. New groups that we recruited to fill strategic gaps quickly integrated into the community, bringing needed new voices to the debate. And by working closely with the grantees, we were able to provide needed resources at critical moments, such as an 11th hour phone bank effort or a targeted ad that helped underscore public sentiment.

Now, we have recreated the campaign model to organize efforts around reducing the nuclear weapons budget and providing practical alternatives for dealing with the challenge from Iran’s nuclear program. Already we have seen positive results. In fact, one grantee recently stated in an email:

“I have rarely seen this level of professionalism and organization across such a diverse group of actors. We have the think tanks, the NGOs, academics … former diplomats, pollsters, message developers, and others all sharing information, talking strategy, tracking the opposition in a way that is more integrated and comprehensive than I can remember…. And I think the results are telling.”

In addition to our impact philanthropy model, we continue to maintain our traditional role as a funder of key institutions and a provider of rapid response grants that convert immediate opportunities into positive change. The combination of a campaign model to this portfolio, has allowed us to increase the impact of our grants while advancing policy in new and exciting ways. It has made our work more powerful – which makes your dollars go farther.