Good Ventures: The Power of Informed Decisions

By Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Sarah Murray
2015 | Case No. SI124 | Length 16 pgs.

In 2010, Cari Tuna quit her job at the Wall Street Journal to work full-time on developing a giving strategy for herself and her husband—Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. In May 2011, the couple created the philanthropic foundation Good Ventures. Tuna made transparency and knowledge sharing core components of the foundation; creating a blog to report on the foundation’s activities and learnings. Good Ventures co-funded projects so that the foundation could gain insights into the decision-making and evaluation processes of funders with large, full-time staffs, while also encountering pre-vetted, promising giving opportunities. Through what she called “learning grants,” Tuna was able to shape Good Ventures’ focus areas while actively grantmaking. Tuna was inspired by charity evaluator GiveWell and began to learn from, financially support, and eventually partner with the organization. To improve the grantmaking research process, Tuna and GiveWell created a rigorous “funnel” approach using shallow, medium, and deep investigations into potential issue areas to determine what areas had the greatest need, had proven solutions, and were relatively underfunded. This collaboration eventually became the Open Philanthropy Project, an effort to choose particularly promising focus areas for large-scale philanthropy, make grants, and discuss the process and results publicly to increase the quality of information available about how to give effectively.

Learning Objective

a. Demonstrate the importance of ongoing learning and evaluation in shaping a foundation’s grantmaking strategy. b. Expose students to a new model of philanthropy that prioritizes transparency; knowledge creation, aggregation, and dissemination; and applied learning. c. Highlight a key philanthropic collaboration and partnership.

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