The Bridgespan Group is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that collaborates with mission-driven organizations, philanthropists, and investors to achieve breakthrough results in addressing society’s most important challenges and opportunities. Our growth and impact over the last 22-plus years would not have been possible without philanthropic support from a range of funders, past and present, at critical moments along the way. We are grateful to them all.*
In late 2020, Bridgespan was alerted by Ms. Scott that she would like to support our organization’s mission with a grant of $40 million. While we are an advisor of Scott’s on her philanthropy, we did not have prior knowledge of or involvement with the decision to include Bridgespan as a grant recipient. Like so many other of her grant recipients, we were surprised, moved, and overjoyed by the size and flexibility of the gift. We are among several intermediary organizations similarly honored, and it is gratifying to see them being recognized for their value to the sector.
When we received word of the Scott grant, we were in the midst of a fundraising campaign aimed at increasing Bridgespan’s ability to support more social change leaders and philanthropists in their efforts to accelerate impact in the world. The seismic events of 2020 led us to double-down on advancing these efforts, with a focus on three primary areas:
- Research and knowledge-sharing in service of nonprofit leadership teams and to increase the flow of philanthropic and impact investing dollars in ways that center equity and trust. Developing and sharing knowledge, resources, insights, and tools with the social sector is a critical part of our theory of change. As part of our founding business model these efforts have always been philanthropically funded so as to be shared for free. Investments have included bodies of research, often in partnership with others, such as racial equity in philanthropy and community-driven change. As part of this campaign, we have also capitalized a knowledge fund that will operate similarly to an endowment. While like most nonprofits we will need to continue to fundraise to advance our broad research and knowledge agenda, this fund will provide a base of reliable, flexible funding for our knowledge and influence strategies into the future.
- Growth and innovation to increase our reach and impact with social sector leaders around the world. Investments have included the establishment of local Bridgespan teams in Asia and Africa, the development of new technology-enabled and cohort-based offerings for nonprofit and NGO leadership teams (with a particular focus on leaders of color and those most proximate to issues of equity–details here and here), and the piloting of new philanthropic offerings to unlock capital in more trust-based manners and with equity at the center.
- Operational investments to grow Bridgespan’s strength and sustainability as a nonprofit, with a particular focus on our equity strategy, our infrastructure, and our team. Investments have included the expansion of our diversity, equity, and inclusion team, the lateral hiring of management team members with a focus on people of color so as to further speed the diversification and strength of our leadership, and a technology ‘roadmap’ to transform our ability to use technology to advance our mission.
Across these efforts, we are seeking to make a significant and sustained difference, in particular on issues and systems that affect the most marginalized communities. The campaign has been supported by 12 donors, with the Scott grant being transformational in helping us reach our fundraising goals. To date, we have directed just over half of her grant funds to specific uses, with plans for the full gift that involve allocating it across all three areas noted above over the next three years (total of roughly 60 percent to knowledge and research, 25 percent to growth and innovation, and 15 percent to operational investments). The flexibility of the funds has allowed us to direct them to our most important and urgent needs.
For more than two decades, we have had the opportunity to advise and collaborate with many of the world’s most extraordinary social change leaders including nonprofit and NGO leaders, philanthropists, and impact investors. We are passionate about helping these leaders find solutions to economic and social barriers that perpetuate inequities and prevent individuals, families, and communities from having access to opportunities they need to thrive. We are also grateful for the continuous opportunities to learn and unlearn alongside them and others in this important work. The Scott grant has and will enable us to lean further into these efforts.
Other relevant links:
- For more on MacKenzie Scott grants, see the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s latest research
- Frequently Asked Questions about The Bridgespan Group
- Bridgespan’s conflict of interest policy
*While we do not have a practice of announcing grants we receive, with the anticipated publication of MacKenzie Scott’s database of grantees and an attendant uptick in inquiries we have received about our grant, we wanted not only to express our deep appreciation but also to share how we are using this extraordinary gift.