A Wiki-based grantmaking strategy

An interesting OA-oriented strategic planning process has been initiated by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. It has set up a Wiki Site for Nitrogen Strategy Development.


Our Conservation and Science Program currently awards grants totaling approximately $45 million annually in the areas of coastal conservation, fisheries conservation, climate change, and science. If the Board decides to add an additional nitrogen/agriculture focus, the scale of investment in the new area is likely to be on the order of $5 million to $15 million per year.

A decision to establish a grantmaking program on nitrogen/agriculture will depend on whether the Foundation has developed a compelling grantmaking strategy, which details the goals, outcomes, strategies, and activities that it will pursue. It includes information that characterizes the risk associated with the approach (i.e., how likely is it that the grant investment will achieve the desired outcomes) and the time frame for the investment. The strategy seeks to address the question, What is the most effective way to spend the funds available in order to help solve this problem? …

Foundations regularly use grantmaking strategies to orient their philanthropic investments. These strategies are typically developed by foundation staff, by philanthropic intermediaries, or by consulting firms. Through this Wiki site, we would like to experiment with an alternative to these models for strategy development. We are concerned that the existing models for strategy development cast far too narrow a net in their search for creative solutions. They are unable to benefit from the wisdom, experience, and expertise present within civil society, private sector, and academic institutions. …

Through this Web site, http://nitrogen.packard.org, the Packard Foundation would like to bring the wisdom of crowds to bear on the development of a possible grantmaking strategy. Our hope is that this will help to improve the goals and elements of any such strategy, while also helping the Foundation to identify individuals, institutions, and projects that could play a role in carrying it out. If successful, we also believe that the Wiki site could help to inform the work of other organizations and the grantmaking strategies of other foundations. …

Excerpts from the Frequently Asked Questions:

What does the Packard Foundation plan to do with the information it collects through this process?

Packard will use the ideas and information generated by the online discussions and wiki to inform its strategy for funding the most effective approaches to reducing nitrogen pollution. In addition, the Foundation strongly encourages participants of Nitrogen.packard.org to make use of the ideas generated by this community in their own work.

How long will Nitrogen.packard.org be accessible?

The online discussions and wiki will be live from March 30-April 30, 2007. After that, the product of the community’s work will remain available to the public, archived online and protected under a Creative Commons License.

How will Packard share lessons learned?

Packard will be writing an account of what happened and what was learned from Nitrogen.packard.org. This account will be posted on both the archived site and www.packard.org, and sent to all participants in the collaboration.


1 Comment »

  1. tillje said

    Peter suber has posted in item in OA News (14 April 2007) about the Wiki of the Packard Foundation. The item is entitled: Opening up the input to a funder, not just the output.

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