What We Value & How We Work

What We Value and How We Work

What We Value

  • Humankind can improve. The nature of individual and collective outcomes, good or bad, is not inevitable. Thoughtful interventions based on sound evidence and supported democratically can make a difference in changing and improving the human condition.
  • There is a universal set of human rights, mostly enshrined in international conventions. They include freedom of speech and association, the right of people to choose their leaders, tolerance, respect for diversity, and a fair society that gives equitable opportunity to all. Nations and individuals have the obligation to respect, promote, and protect those rights.
  • An independent and strong civil society is essential for individuals and organizations to effectively work to improve government policy and to address problems that arise from failures of the market.
  • Societies are at their best when individuals are well-educated, trained, and supported by government in its role of providing incentives to individuals, moderating excessive inequality, and helping those in need. Investments in individuals in trouble or in need can yield large returns to society.
  • People and nations should work together to achieve peace and security, as well as to address other global challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity preservation, and the development of sensible human mobility policies.
  • More developed nations have a responsibility to protect vulnerable populations and to help less developed nations. There is enormous human potential in every country.
  • Every generation has a stewardship responsibility to protect and preserve the planet and its peoples, and to pass on to successive generations a healthier world than it inherited.

How We Work

  • Embracing complexity: We see the interactions among problems and solutions, locally, nationally, and internationally. We understand the perspectives provided by interdisciplinary approaches and encourage the transfer of knowledge and learning from one field to another. In our work we use what we learn in one field to inform our effort in other fields.
  • Willing to take risks: While we understand the importance of steady commitments to core programs, we are open to new ideas, willing to take risks in exploring patterns, trends, and issues that may be yet only dimly perceived.
  • Supporting creativity: We can make a difference by supporting creative individuals and institutions often at an early and transformative stage.
  • Taking the long view: We take the long view in our work, first trying to understand the root causes of issues better through research and analysis, and then helping develop policies and approaches that will be able to scale up to effectively address the issues. We seek to have research inform practice, and to have practice enrich research through a continuous feedback loop. While we are steady funders, staying with fields for a long time (even as the emphasis within a field may change) we are always willing to be self-critical and are regularly reviewing whether we are continuing to add value to a field of work. Taking a long view does not lessen our desire to seek appropriate, measurable, and timely outcomes.
  • Creating and strengthening institutions: By creating and strengthening civil society institutions we enable people from different sectors to address critical issues constructively. We also work with government and for-profit institutions to meet the challenges of society.
  • Optimism: We are optimists at our core, believing that working together — through research, vigorous discussion, advocacy, and action — can make a difference. We view problems through a positive lens.
  • Promoting diversity of viewpoint: No one has a monopoly on truth. Analysis of problems and development of solutions are enhanced by bringing multiple perspectives to bear on both. We are willing to work with unexpected partners, welcome skeptical views, and value vigorous, civil debate that is informed by evidence. In our work in 60 countries, we are sensitive to different values and honor local knowledge.
  • Being a convener, catalyst and enabler: Bringing different and differing groups together is an important part of the Foundation’s role. While MacArthur itself is not operating on the front line of issues, we enable others to do so. Supported by information, resources, and influence, they are better able to resist the disabling forces of cynicism and despair.
  • Fairness and transparency: We recognize the need for openness and fairness in our activities. In all of our dealings with individuals and organizations, we seek to be responsive and respectful.