For the Bridgespan team, 2015 saw a variety of important learning advancements.
We increased our focus—both in our consulting and knowledge work—on the power of philanthropic “big bets” to push forward social change. Bridgespan research has shown that while a majority of America’s biggest donors list a social change objective as their most important goal, only 20 percent of reported big bets (those of $10 million or more) went to such causes. We are exploring ways to help ambitious philanthropists and nonprofits who want to effect great social change through research and deep collaboration to understand and overcome barriers to betting big and moving the needle on society’s most important problems.
We opened our first office outside the United States—in Mumbai, India, with tremendous support from Bain & Company, Omidyar Network®, Steve and Roberta Denning and three philanthropists from India. We believe that it will be impossible for anyone to find best practices or identify solutions to major problems without engaging with innovators from across the global landscape. The social sector is at an exciting point in India, with a growing focus on results and scale and an extraordinary range of nonprofits and philanthropists doing innovative work. India, with a rising NGO sector, is a crucible for the next wave of global solutions. There is a lot we can learn.
In our practice areas, we continued to collaborate with leaders to address important opportunities for impact. For example, in K-12 education, one of the critical challenges is hiring and retaining great leaders and administrators. We worked with the education nonprofit EdFuel to examine how charter school networks and public school districts could develop talent from the inside, creating a culture of leadership development. In collaboration with EdFuel, we published a report that highlighted the potential of home grown leadership, and partnered on a nine-month project that brought together leaders of some of the nation’s highest performing charter school management organizations to look at leadership development opportunities within their own organizations. We also worked closely with the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation to conduct research that shines a light on the importance of investing in early childhood education (ECE) to realize the potential return from focusing on this critical stage of life.
Leading for Impact®, the blended consulting and executive team development program that enables Bridgespan to serve cohorts of nonprofit leaders in their home communities is taking off and has expanded to three cities in 2015 - Atlanta, Seattle, and D.C. There are two more cities on the horizon and gearing up for launch in 2016.
What ties these diverse strands together—big bets, India, leadership development in K-12 education, early childhood education, Leading for Impact and what characterizes all our work —is the opportunity to learn alongside some of the most innovative organizations and ambitious social leaders to find solutions that will break cycles of poverty.
We have updated our annual report microsite with these new stories of impact to add to the collection we shared last year. Heartfelt thanks to our collaborators, clients, funders, and staff for all they do to serve others and make a difference in the world.