What’s up at CHIP: how we choose projects and what we’re working on

We are often asked how we identify our high-impact opportunities. Like any organization, we have limited resources, so need to consider carefully where to focus our time and energy. Multiple factors determine which projects we work on at any given time, including:

  • Potential for social impact and whether there is an opportunity for private funds to make a difference. We make sure that what’s at stake is significant. We ask ourselves the question, ‘With good information and better guidance would funders be prepared to act?
  • Our Capabilities We also judge whether our team and our network are well-positioned to give good guidance in a reasonable time frame. This involves assessing our collective skills, training, expertise, and partnerships, as well as our available financial resources. Although we do assess the potential for impact, we don’t rank causes or choose projects simply to advocate for causes.
  • Funder Interest Certain topics – how to measure and manage to impact, how to help in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, and, in the US, how to improve education – typically generate high levels of funder interest and therefore represent areas where our guidance might make a bigger difference.

The following is a select list of our current projects:

  • Addressing Addiction: High-impact opportunities to prevent deaths and reduce suffering from substance use disorders (working title of upcoming guide).
  • Supporting “communities of practice” to help funders make smart investments in early childhood in the US. This is an extension of Invest in a Strong Start for Children: A Toolkit for Donors.
  • Philanthropy Unfiltered (upcoming podcast series). Think, ‘inside the actors studio’ where our host, Jacob Lief, author of the book I Am Because You Are and co-founder of Ubuntu Education Fund, explores issues related to achieving high impact with philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, and other social sector leaders.
  • Incorporating Beneficiary Voice for Greater Impact. Thanks to a collaboration with Feedback Labs and funding from the Fund for Shared Insight, we’re developing a series of blog posts and real-life examples of how closing feedback loops leads to greater impact.
  • Cleaner cookstoves (an upcoming funder investment brief). Around the world, the use of cookstoves contributes to harmful environmental emissions and serious health problems, especially for women and girls. This funders brief will examine the state of efforts to develop and adopt clean cookstoves, and their potential for social impact.

To be notified when any of these projects are publicly released, follow this blog, find us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or join our listserv. And if there’s anything you want our team to work on, let us know by sending ideas to impact@sp2.upenn.edu.