WHAT DOES AN IDEAL FUNDING ECOSYSTEM LOOK LIKE?
In an ideal funding ecosystem, the path to impact for donors and grantees would be clear and simple.
Funders would coordinate with each other, sharing due diligence and knowledge, and making sure that the same research isn’t completed multiple times.
They would specialize in an impactful issue in which they have a comparative advantage, and no good organization would fall through the cracks.
Applications would be shared broadly between donors, lessening the burden on the applicants, and each potential grantee would immediately know where to look for funding.
A pipeline would exist wherein the best organizations could move through a streamlined system, from seed all the way to scale.
While we have yet to turn this dream into a reality for the entire philanthropic sector, we are designing our funding circles in the image of this ideal ecosystem.
WHAT IS A FUNDING CIRCLE?
A funding circle, at its most basic, is a collaboration between several funders who focus on a certain cause. For example, the Mental Health Funding Circle focuses on finding and funding the most impactful mental health interventions globally. Although the exact details differ from circle to circle, we typically hold monthly knowledge-exchange meetings, and multiple collaborative grantmaking rounds per year. In our circles, each funder makes their own independent decisions. We keep our circles small enough for everyone to meet on a single Zoom call. We aim for our circles to be productive, impactful, informative, and fun.
WHY FUNDING CIRCLES CAN HAVE IMPACT
Funding circles can be a powerful way to leverage and coordinate multiple funders that share a common interest. Diverse perspectives and communication are vitally important for a well-functioning philanthropic ecosystem. However, many funders are isolated in both their research and their decision-making processes, and their grantmaking suffers as a result. Funding circles provide an immediate community for the ambitious funder who wants to amplify their impact.
A certain cause may have several large funders, but between closed application rounds, unclear standards, and disjointed networks, it will be nearly impossible for a good organization to get funding without a huge headache. Funding circles seek to improve this subpar situation by creating a centralized point of contact for organizations seeking funding. This means that grantees can gain exposure to several funders through just one application. Additionally, if an application falls outside of a certain funder’s scope, they can easily pass the project on to a grantmaker who is a better fit.
THE REQUIRMENTS TO JOIN A FUNDING CIRCLE
Entry requirements vary depending on the circle. For all of them, a potential member of a circle should be interested in the cause, and be willing to invest a minimum of two hours per month towards meetings or due diligence. The minimum donation ranges from $10,000 to $100,000 depending on the circle.
Causing more impact for mental health
Network of donors interested in mental health as a cause area
Supporting infrastructure that impacts the charity world
Network of donors interested in meta charities as a cause area
Supporting Great Charities from the Ground Up
Network of donors interested in early-stage projects. The members of this network typically fund across different cause areas and have often been excited about the historical results of the CE Incubation Program.
Other funding circles that might be of interest outside of our network include