EARLY LESSONS FROM COFUNDING INITIATIVES
One route Good Ventures took as it worked to develop its grant-making strategy involved
seeking to cofund projects. Tuna believed that by partnering with others in making grants, she
could gain insights into the decision-making and evaluation processes of funders with large, fulltime
staffs while also encountering promising funding opportunities.
In searching for cofunding opportunities, Good Ventures approached both foundations and
government agencies. These included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Hewlett
Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and the U.K. government’s Department for
International Development (DFID), among others.
An important consideration when choosing projects to cofund was not only whether they had the
potential to significantly impact people’s lives, but also whether they were underfunded. Tuna
Initially, we sought conversations with program staff working on various aspects
of global health and development. We asked questions like: “If your budget
grew by $1 million, how would you spend that money?” We hoped to find
proposals that had “just missed the cut,” in other words, that those teams would
have funded—or funded at a higher level—if they could have.
Good Ventures also looked for cofunding opportunities in projects that were likely to generate
meaningful data within a reasonable time period in order to understand whether or not they were
having an impact and meeting project goals.13 And when it came to cofunding partners, it looked
for major funders whose work it admired for their impact or uniqueness, or that had significant
overlap with Good Ventures’ areas of interest.