How do Bill and Melinda Gates decide where their philanthropic dollars go? It is a combination of personal passion and commitment, expert advisory staff and a model to assess risk and impact potential for every grant. You do not become the largest and most influential foundation in the world without the knowledge and tools to manage the variety of relationships and risks associated with multi-billion dollar grantmaking.
When the Gates Foundation engaged with organizations on the ground, staff recognized that many grantees had capacity needs that posed a risk to the grants’ success. They turned to Amplifier CEO Allison Duncan for advice, and Amplifier’s first consulting project was born. We partnered with key program experts to understand due diligence needs and design a rigorous yet intuitive assessment process that could handle large and often complex grant proposals.
At the end of our engagement, the Gates Foundation had a suite of tools for carrying out its new risk management approach: a grantee questionnaire and document request for various organization types, risk assessment and risk management worksheets, and easy-to-follow guides for program officers. It had a comprehensive, professionally developed training curriculum for front-line staff. It also had a set of concrete recommendations for bolstering its processes, human resources and technology to expand the system over time.
Today Bill and Melinda Gates are world leaders in innovation and impact. With more than $36.7 billion total grant payments since inception, they are in their own words, “catalysts of human promise everywhere.”
“Whatever the conditions of people’s lives, wherever they live, however they live, we all share the same dreams.”
Co-Chair and Trustee, Gates Foundation