Are Your A Fearless Changemaker? | Beth's Blog

Are Your A Fearless Changemaker?


The Case Foundation is giving away $650,000 in grants and prizes as part of its initiative, Finding Fearless, with REIMicrosoft!

The first phase is to get crowdsourced nominations of  “fearless changemakers,”  people who have a social change project in the early stages and a Fearless prize could help them make the leap to scaling.    The point is that the initiative is trying to identify and support  innovative approaches to on the ground social change.

Here’s how they are describing it:

We are looking for stories of the unsung, unnoticed and uncelebrated individuals in communities across the country that have a successful track record of tackling social challenges because their approach is bold, uncommon, experimental, unconventional, fearless.

If that describes your social change work or you know someone whose work fits this description, you better apply or nominate today because they are only accepting 1,000 applications and my guess the those spots will be grabbed up pretty quick.  So stop reading and head over to:

5 Responses

  1. Not to be overly snarky, but how bold is it to be trying to scale an initiative that has already succeeded (even if it had to overcome failure to do so)? It’s certainly useful, but it doesn’t seem like the initiative is celebrating boldness or willingness to fail. It seems like it’s celebrating success.

  2. Beth says:

    Eugene .. that may be a factor of my poor choice of words .. I think they’re looking for projects with some initial track record, but yet mature. However, I do get your point .. it would be more fearless to fund first-time ideas? But also this would include having a track record so they trust that the idea could get implemented …

  3. I don’t think so, Beth. I looked at the website, and you were mirroring their language accurately.

    Again, I am fully supportive of scaling good ideas with track records. It’s just that this does not qualify as “fearless” in my mind.

  4. Beth says:

    Eugene: How do you define fearless? And is this diffrent for the funder vs grantee?

  5. “Fearless” is the absence of fear. I think “boldness” is the better word, because it is about acting despite fear.

    In the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, people often do not act boldly for fear of making a mistake or looking bad. This whole “failure” movement in this sector is ultimately about counteracting this phenomenon.

    A funding challenge that is looking for programs that have already demonstrated success is not being bold. Again, I’m not saying this is a stupid requirement, it’s just not a bold requirement.

    Contrast this with the startup world. There are absolutely funders who only fund companies that have demonstrated success. But there are also a class of funders who don’t wait for any such signs. In fact, there are some funders who proactively look for entrepreneurs with a track record of failure and a learning mindset. These funders are investing in bold ideas and bold people. They know that those people and ideas will have a high failure rate, but when they succeed, they will succeed big.

    There are very, very few analogues in the philanthropic sector. The best known example is probably the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

    I don’t see anything in The Case Foundation competition that encourages boldness. However, I do think they were bold to advertise it as such. 🙂

    I’m actually not being snarky here. I’m glad they’re taking this first step. I hope they support great activists through this competition, and I hope they try another iteration that does an even better job at encouraging boldness and fearlessness. It’s a process. Not being afraid to invest in people who will probably fail is an acknowledgement of that process and of the incredible potential returns on that investment.

Leave a Reply