Foundations Should Invest in Building the Field of Sustainable Development
Not long ago, at the dawn of the internet age, philanthropy operated differently. News of grants traveled slowly, through the US postal system. Donors appeared more patient, less interested in instant measurement, and more committed to long-term investments, including in people. ... Contrast that with today. Pick up the latest Stanford Social Innovation Review and you see philanthropy dedicated to “big bets,” “scaling up,” “failing fast,” “quick wins,” “grand challenges,” and “impact investing.” These big-and-fast approaches all reflect the era in which we now live, but they may not be best suited to the challenges we currently face.
Consider, for example, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—17 global objectives to create a more equitable and viable planet by 2030. What if foundations applied the kinds of field-building exercises that they conducted in international security to sustainable development? What if, as part of their SDG portfolios, foundations were investing not only in quick wins but also in young people and educational institutions to develop the next generation of experts—what I call Cohort 2030?
Source: The Stanford Social Innovation Review