April Fools! (or is it?)

In many countries, there's a (silly, but rather enjoyable) tradition that April 1 is a national day of joking known as April Fools' Day. At GrantCraft, we were delighted to see Larry Kramer from the Hewlett Foundation participate through his spot-on, sincerely funny blog post. An excerpt:

Speaking of strategic philanthropy (because we’re always speaking of strategic philanthropy around here), a recent evaluation that involved a robust randomized control trial suggests that our approach to grantmaking does no better than random chance. Before acting on this somewhat unexpected finding, I want to see if we can replicate it internally. So we’re going to take a portion of our grant making portfolio and throw darts at a dartboard to select a control group of grantees. We’ll be looking closely at these so-called “bullseye” grantees to see if they do better at achieving results than those we select through our normal rigorous strategic approach.  Fingers crossed everyone!

Bullseye grantmaking strips foundations of the need to spend days, weeks, and staff retreats planning for a strategic portfolio by putting efficiency first. And hey, the fingers crossed method of sustainable impact is probably not a bad idea either. But I have one hole to pick in this: if dart throwing is the best strategy, why is nobody doing it? Funders like Grant from Texas and Sophie from London have shared how thoughtful they and their foundations are with their grantmaking process; I find it hard to believe that throwing a dart would be smarter! And Hewlett's own grantmaking in it's current form, too, shows pretty top-notch grantees benefiting from well-formulated programs. That robust randomized control trial evaluation might be flawed after all...


About the author(s)

Director of Stakeholder Engagement