In every project that we fund, we are interested in exploring new ideas and approaches to realize the vision of our partner organizations. We want to ensure our funding is additive, increasing sustainability and not crowding out existing support. We are very comfortable with new models and infrastructure that require testing and vetting, and we work with our partner organizations to help build the data and analysis to determine their impact and the return on the grant investment. For every grant that we make, we ask if this is a catalytic investment for the partner organization; that is, if the new program works, would it have significant and scaling impact for years to come.
While we may have a point of view in each program area, we look to our partner organizations to have a strong theory of change that explains how their project will create sustainable impact. It is important that our partner organizations have thought deeply about their strategy in the space in which they operate, and we often work collaboratively when asked by our partner organizations to help focus their approach.
The people with which we partner are as important to us as the ideas we fund. We believe that change happens best through committed groups of people, and we spend time getting to know many of our partners deeply. In fact, at times we have served as a conduit for many of our partners to connect with each other to share ideas and best practices.
Care for the most vulnerable and poorest is at the heart of a Christian understanding of community. Our focus is on projects that address root causes of debilitating poverty, ideally partnering with or through community and faith-based organizations that have long-term commitment in a region and work closely with local leadership. We are interested in programs that unlock larger funding streams over time or have a strong sustainability component to ensure long-term impact.
One of our core program areas is spiritual engagement and formation, ideally expressed through or with the local church. We focus heavily on projects that support long-term engagement with unreached people groups around the world by the local church, including leadership development, translation, and practical ministry theology. We also encourage projects that support deep spiritual formation, ideally with the ability to scale in critical communities. We fund projects in the United States with an emphasis on connecting with segments and people groups who are typically less engaged with the local church, particularly millennials and the academy.
Consider the following: the average US adult spends over 6 hours per day in front of a digital device; the average millennial spends nearly a full 24-hour day each week on a mobile device; over 90% of all US adults use online research in making decisions. Yet, in our experience, digital presence is not a core priority for most church and faith-based organizations. We are excited to invest with our partner organizations as they develop digital capabilities to engage with their constituents.
We consider the long-term impact of our grant programs, and we have a set of strategic initiatives primarily in conducting core research to inform the strategies in our program areas and beyond.
Top photo courtesy of Brian Behnken