MacArthur is creating a new annual award of up to $500,000 each for a select group of small non-profit organizations around the world that have shown unusual effectiveness and creativity, Foundation President Jonathan Fanton announced. 

“It is often small or emerging organizations that generate provocative ideas, reframe the debate, or provide new ways of looking at persistent problems,” said Fanton in remarks to the Donors Forum of Chicago today.  “Some are particularly effective at delivering services or challenging old paradigms.  A significant investment in such promising organizations can contribute to progress on an issue or in an area of work, and can also help position a small or new organization for long-term growth and impact.” 

MacArthur has a long history of early support for such emerging organizations.  In 1980, the Foundation gave a grant to Helsinki Watch in its third year of existence; this was the precursor to Human Rights Watch, now the largest U.S.-based human rights organization.  In its second year of existence, MacArthur provided similar early support to Creative Commons, an organization that has changed the way we think about copyright. 

“Individual creativity is important,” said Fanton.  “Government plays a big role, as does the private market.  But can we imagine life without the institutions that educate us, help us comprehend a complex world, and bring us together with others, empowering each of us to work together in pursuit of a more just and humane world at peace?” 

Fanton said there will be an awards ceremony in Chicago in October to announce and recognize this year’s nine winners.  In conjunction with this ceremony, the Foundation will organize a series of seminars on the work of these organizations that will be open to other non-profit institutions, providing an important opportunity for mutual learning. 

The Foundation will not seek or accept nominations for this new award.  The award is in addition to any other grant funding MacArthur may provide these organizations. 
To qualify for the new awards, organizations must –

  • Demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness;
  • Have reached a critical or strategic point in their development;
  • Have budgets under $2.5 million per year;
  • Show strong leadership and stable financial management;
  • Work in one of the fields in which MacArthur is engaged in grantmaking; and
  • Have previously received MacArthur support. 

MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions