Beyond Funding

It is time to be truthful about the limited impact money can have

Money matters. Everyone knows that, many experience it. What is less universally understood and agreed is the limitation of money.

There is plenty of money in the world and as funders, it is the tool we know. As funders we believe, want to believe, that giving excess money to good causes will make the world a better place, will unlock potential, will eradicate suffering and will create a more equitable society. Even better if we monitor and measure closely how that money is spent, by putting in place metrics we know from business practices and good governance reports developed for and by organisations. Do this enough times, and we will solve all of the problems that plague humanity.

Under the right conditions, money can free up time and amplify efforts. It can help convene the right people with the best tools. It can bring in the necessary resources and allow for experimentation and exploration where survival was barely possible before.

Yet, for all the philanthropic funding that has been granted, we still face many of the same and a number of new social and environmental challenges. Money alone is not the solution. How money is given, to whom, to use in which way, matters most. Change is made by people. People who understand and care deeply, who are committed and who are immersed. People who are supported and have room to experiment, fail, learn and evolve, openly. Today's prevalent funding processes and practices - philanthropic or otherwise - do not create these conditions.

We are exploring and experimenting with philosophies, processes and practices to create such conditions, in which motivated individuals are supported to try, learn and evolve their ideas into functioning solutions, while building resilience into the system and establishing community and collaboration.

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How we measure success

by SF Team, 22 September 2015

Applicants, and sometimes even Fellows, find it difficult to compute the broad question “what do YOU want to do?”. They keep looking for guidance to narrow down the scope of possibility and fit within prescribed parameters. Yes, we want open and innovative, we like technology and we get excited about access. Other than that, and even beyond that, we want applicants to tell us what they want to do, not the other way round. In...

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Download our legal templates

by SF Team, 6 February 2015

Since 2007 we have required Fellows to apply open licences - first CC-BY-SA and then CC-BY - to all intellectual property created during the fellowship. The same principle applies to works produced within the Foundation. Openly licensed resources are only as useful as the number of people who can access to them, so now we are eating our own dogfood and making our Fellowship Agreement and Project Agreement available on GitHub. These agreement outlines are...

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The How of Open

by SF Team, 15 May 2014

This success has also made the term fashionable and sometimes leads to overenthusiastic uses of the open label or, more worryingly, open-washing. It can result in uncertainty and confusion for those who plan to open up knowledge resources for strategic purposes. The detail of how open is open, matters. Although governments and inter-governmental organisations are adopting the creation and use of open knowledge resources, there is a surprising lag by the majority of non-profit organisations,...

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by SF Team, 21 April 2014

We do this because who we are and how we behave has impact on others. We want to present the best, most relevant parts of ourselves in a given context. We choose to ignore the warts and wobbly bits in favour of the identity we’ve claimed as our own in that space. It’s part of being human, being in control of our own lives and choosing what we reveal about ourselves, under what circumstances and...

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Open as a Strategy for Philanthropy and Social Change

by SF Team, 3 March 2014

The more we expose the thinking, working and practices of our organisation, our ideas and our projects, the better. Exposing this information allows other organisations, project implementers, funders, policy makers, change agents, advocates and academics to learn from what we have done. We have found that being intentional about making knowledge resources, funded and/or produced by us, freely and openly available creates a number of strategic opportunities: You can buy one copy, give 1000′s free....


What makes us tick


The more we share the thinking, working and practices of ourselves and our fellows, the better. Making these publicly available allows other organisations, project implementers, funders, policy makers, change agents, advocates and academics to engage - learn from what we have done, critically assess, give feedback and open the door to collaboration.

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