Is a philanthropic partnership the right choice for your charity?

A philanthropic partnership could help your charitable dollars go further. A typical philanthropic partnership involves a third-party intermediary bringing funders together through a portfolio approach. Examples include the Charter School Growth Fund, ClimateWorks, Give2Asia, the Global Fund for Women, the Robin Hood Foundation, and Social Venture Partners.

While collaborative funding, by definition, implies limits on donor intent, most funds offer donors some degree of control over the grantmaking process. That control can vary based on the size of the contribution made. Each fund sets its own minimum required contributions based on its mission and investment style.

Blue Meridian Partners

Blue Meridian Partners, for example, seeks “to make a transformational impact on the lives of young people and families in poverty” by “channel[ing] significant capital to promising interventions.” Launched by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Blue Meridian searches for promising youth-serving organizations, does the necessary due diligence, evaluates their readiness for scaling, develops a growth plan, makes the initial investment, coordinates large-scale investments, provides management support, monitors progress, and reports back to funding partners. 

The fund has raised more than $1.7 billion to date for its work. Each General Partner who contributes at least $50 million every five years or more has a vote in investment and ongoing payment decisions. Impact Partners commit at least $15 million, a portion of which goes into Blue Meridian’s central investment pool; they can direct the balance at their discretion to groups in the portfolio.

Recognize the limits

Donors who choose to participate in collaborative funding along these lines should have a thorough understanding of the obligations they are assuming and the degree of control they will enjoy.