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Made to Measure Initiative

Can a platform leveraging existing community network trust and relationships help the sector move more resources to where they are needed most? That is the question we are trying to answer with Made to Measure, a pilot funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Project Goal | Overview & Scope | Engagement | Learn more | Materials

 

Project Background

When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, the Philanthropic Partnerships team of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation asked itself what they could do to help at a time of such great need. They landed on a three-pronged approach: 

  • making sizable grants through intermediaries to support local and often informal community response efforts;
  • launching a time bound public platform to help everyday donors plug into COVID-19 giving and volunteering opportunities; and 
  • asking whether and how such an approach might work for high-capacity donors as well. 

That last question evolved into the initiative that today is called Made to Measure—a cohort of donor networks, who together will test and explore the question of whether and how digital tools might engage and influence high-capacity giving, including both the quantity and the quality of that giving. Can a platform leveraging existing community network trust and relationships help the sector move more resources to where they are needed most? That is the question we are trying to answer with Made to Measure.

Building on Philanthropy Network’s efforts in recent years to advance greater equity in philanthropy, the Made to Measure project emerged at the same time we were beginning a strategic transformation process to evolve from a traditional philanthropic service organization to an organization that advances racial and intersectional equity and anti-oppression practices in philanthropy. As we progress on the continuum of this transformation, we were excited by the possibilities Made to Measure presented to build an online platform that could help identify current trends, redundancies and gaps in giving, and opportunities for collaboration, as well as reduce bias, encourage equitable grantmaking practices, increase transparency, and unite our membership community towards this shared goal.

Following a competitve application process, in fall of 2021 Philanthropy Network was selected by Gates as one of a group of five organizations to participate in the two-year Made to Measure Initiative pilot project to explore what can and cannot be achieved with an online giving tool. The other organizations in the cohort include: Florida Philanthropic Network, Hispanics in Philanthropy, National Center for Family Philanthropy and The Philanthropy Workshop.  The platform being developed by each group will be unique to that organization based on their particular focus and community need. Philanthropy Network's pilot is focused on using the online tool as a means to embed greater equity in philanthropy.

Project Goal

Through Made to Measure, Philanthropy Network’s goal is to create a platform that turns the desire to increase equitable grantmaking into action for our membership through data-informed funding opportunities and better collaboration. We know that inequity in grantmaking is a complex, multi-dimensional problem with deep roots, and that this tool will only go so far to address that issue, but through this pilot we hope to identify one or two aspects that DO move the needle towards greater equity.

Overview and Scope

The name “Made to Measure” reflects the intent that this platform will be neither a 100% customized tech solution nor an “out of the box” IT product, but a middle ground: an established platform that is tailored to our membership and our goal to increase equity. We are working with developers at CapShift to enhance their existing platform to address our unique needs.

One of the biggest challenges we face is defining the “How.”  

  • How do you define equity in philanthropy?
  • How do you measure equity in philanthropy?
  • How can an online platform assist with this?

While still in its development phase, our platform will have three key elements based on the existing CapShift model: Profiles, Opportunities and Communities. We hope to build fields into each element that will help us get to the “How” and report that information back out to our members. While we will launch with the basic concepts highlighted below, ultimately you—Philanthropy Network members who use the platform—will inform what Made to Measure becomes. Your feedback will guide each improvement and iteration of the tool post-launch.  

Profile

Organizational profile

  • Each member organization will have an institutional profile
  • Share more about your organization with the community
  • Reflect on your current grantmaking priorities
  • Track your future grantmaking against those same priorities

Staff member profile

  • All staff members from our member organizations are welcome to join the platform
  • Share your personal and professional goals and interests
  • Connect with colleagues at over 120 funding organizations
Opportunities
  • See your own and other members’ current grantees
  • Answer additional questions around equity principles to deepen your understanding of your grantees
  • See this same equity information reflected for other organizations’ grantees
  • Increase our shared understanding of the nonprofit community in Greater Philadelphia
Communities
  • Grow your connections based on shared interests 
  • Find others in the funding community to help you grow your work
  • Have a forum to easily connect and share ideas

Engagement

Member input will be critical to designing a platform that best meets the needs of the Greater Philadelphia community. As a first step, we would like to invite members to sign up by Friday, May 20th to join our Early Adopter Cohort. Whether you are excited, curious, or even skeptical about this project, please consider emailing Jen Flocco about participating.

As one of the first Made to Measure users your invaluable feedback and usage will shape the platform and the future of this initiative. 

  • We anticipate the cohort will come together for an initial launch meeting in June and the work will last three months. 
  • We ask that Early Adopter Cohort members commit to engage with the platform for at least half-an-hour per week during that period, and provide feedback based on their user experience. 
  • Project director Jen Flocco will be on point to facilitate your platform use, collect your feedback and answer any question you have.
  • In addition to the launch meeting, you can expect 2-3 additional gatherings of the group to talk about the platform, what you like and don’t like and most importantly if you see avenues to improve equity in grantmaking through this tool.

More information about joining the Early Adopter Cohort will be added here as the platform launch date is finalized. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to Jen Flocco to learn more.

Once we have enhanced the platform based on the early user feedback, we will welcome all Philanthropy Network member organizations and their staff to join.  We will hold specific online events to help onboard new users and will be available throughout the pilot to gather user feedback, coordinate updates and improvements to the platform and troubleshoot any issues users might experience.

Check back for regular updates about Made to Measure as our pilot program gets going this Spring!

Learn more

Watch this conversation about the Made to Measure Initiative between Jen Flocco, director of the project for Philanthropy Network, and Sophie Snowden of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Materials