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Big Bets
Striving toward transformative change in areas of profound concern

Our Approach

In thinking about a potential big bet, the Foundation considers the following factors:


Is this a fundamental problem that affects (or could affect) the flourishing of people and the planet?

Boldness, Creativity, and Strategy

Does the proposed approach have truly significant implications for people and society?

Are we filling a gap? Is the strategy risky in that it may dissuade others from entering the field? Is it new or emerging?

Does it take advantage of a significant opportunity? Does it leverage others’ actions or resources?

Mission, Values, and Capacity

How does this work align with MacArthur's mission (Just, Verdant, and Peaceful), history, and identity?

How does this work align with Creativity; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion; Empathy, Integrity; and Learning?

How does it demonstrate attention to racial equity?

Does MacArthur have a particular expertise or history that would make a significant difference?

Is this idea best served by philanthropy?

Feasibility, Confidence, Learnings, and Durability

What will it take to achieve the goal?

What indicators of success exist?

What suggests the strategy can be implemented, and

that it can be achieved or contribute successfully?

What must be known before proceeding?

What have we learned about the opportunity during the first two phases?

In what ways is this strategy and/or its results sustainable?


Why now? Are forces converging?

Is a window of opportunity opening or closing?

Are leaders emerging? Is the societal cost of inaction compelling?


We considered a series of guiding questions as we were Thinking About a Big BetAs we developed our Big Bet strategies, we designed them to be time-limited. We identified the Big Bet problems, goals, strategies, and desired impacts to contribute to an outcome over a specific period of time.

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