PRESIDENT'S ESSAY

What It Will Take

Since 1978, MacArthur has proudly supported thousands of organizations and individuals in the United States and around the world that have had real and lasting impact: fighting parasitic diseases; helping to build an international justice system; strengthening higher education in Nigeria and Russia; establishing America’s flourishing community development finance sector; driving reform in juvenile justice; and much, much more.    

Even more transformative impact in the future will require new ways of thinking and working.

A few principles guide us. Be bolder and aim higher. Embrace independent, even unconventional, thinking. Act with greater urgency, even as we remain patient for the fruits of real, lasting change. Be more open, curious, and experimental, and take more risk. Set ambitious goals that are clear and practical, and seek significant, measurable progress.

In the future, we will work primarily through programs and projects that are larger in scale, time-limited in nature, or designed to reach specific objectives. We will place less emphasis on program areas with an indefinite lifespan.

While this solution-driven approach is a topic of debate in philanthropy, we believe it is right for MacArthur and the depth of impact we strive to achieve. Its application means focusing our not-unlimited resources, our leadership, and other assets in fewer areas where we believe real and lasting progress may be possible. More focus will require hard choices about some fields where we have long been active.

Higher ambitions also will require a greater tolerance for risk and failure. We will need to be even more flexible and innovative in our strategies and tactics in response to new circumstances, and ready to enter into alliances with unexpected partners. We will observe closely and listen carefully as we adopt an even more rigorous practice of reflection and learning.