Founding Partners: Women Donors Network & Solidaire | Partners: Democracy Alliance and Threshold Foundation
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Executive Summary

In the summer of 2017, following several rounds of grantmaking that began in January, the Emergent Fund took a pause to evaluate and learn about its model and the impact it had on selected grantees. TCC Group (TCC) was contracted to conduct the required evaluation and compile a final report on findings, characteristics of the model that could be shared with the philanthropic field, areas in which the model could be improved, and the impact the fund had on organizations that received a grant. This summary shares the high level findings from the final report.


Grantees and other internal stakeholders to the fund were interviewed about what made the model work. Internal stakeholders shared how important the pre-established relationships and sense of trust were in helping the advisory council work well together. among those internal groups, the decision of labor was effective and helped lessen the time commitment for members involved. grantees praised characteristics of the model such as the ease, speed and efficiency of the application, scoring process, flexibility, the focus on a diverse group of grassroots organizations, the trusting relationships of those working on the fund, and the intentional decision-making power given to community leaders. grantees felt the model more closely adhered to the meaning of rapid response than other funds they had worked with in the past.


Grantees of the Emergent Fund were able to serve several groups in the most vulnerable communities under attack after the election including immigrants, low-income individuals, and minority populations. stories of the work they accomplished with the Emergent Fund grant highlighted activities that served to shift power and work towards longer-term transformation in those communities. strategies that grantees used in their work included experimental tactics, alliance-building, and leadership training. additionally, several grantees leveraged their emergent fund grants into matching funds from other funders.


Through the evaluation findings, it became clear that there are several key actions that others in the eld of philanthropy can take in order to adopt an emergent fund model:

  • Transfer the burden of proof from organizations to funders •
  • Trust the expertise of frontline organizations
  • Redefine the funder’s role from expert to curator
  • Be willing to take risks and support innovation
  • Practice emergent strategy by challenging issue silos
  • Prioritize community level funding
  • Be explicit about power
  • Reflect and iterate