In a recent piece for Stanford Social Innovation Review, Paul Shoemaker, Executive Connector for Social Venture Partners, makes an interesting case for fundamentally changing the underlying practices of philanthropy to achieve breakthrough social change, the most important of which is to provide unrestricted funding.
"We are using a practice that weakens the entire structure of grantees we hope to build," Shoemaker says. "If we want to make sure that funds go toward an intended social outcome, we must make an agreement on the mutual outcome and let grantees decide how to best spend the funds (the means) to achieve that goal (the end)."
To the naysayers, Shoemaker offers a commonsense answer: "Unrestricted absolutely does not imply unaccountability. If you’re worried that grantees might misspend funds, and if you can’t trust them, don’t make the grant in the first place."
Shoemaker's passionate plea for the benefits of unresticted funding is multifaceted, bringing years of experience to bare through several different lenses. To learn more, check out the longer version of the SSIR article available as a PDF here.