The PHF Should blog series was an open request from Paul Hamlyn Foundation for individuals and institutions to contribute to its strategy review via short blogs. Selected contributions included:
Toby Eccles (Social Finance) – Take More Risks

  • PHF should take risk along two dimension: programmatic risk and structure risk
  • Programmatic risk: testing things that are ‘out-there’ – too off beat or experimental to be comfortable
  • Most innovation foundations fund is ‘comfortable’ – like the previous programme but slightly different
  • Need to test things that are intuitive – supporting programmes whose impact is oblique to their initial intent
  • Structure risk: funding whatever it takes to have impact on the chosen issue – including research, lobbying, social investment and commercial organisations
  • Make grants flexible and extend funding for successful organisations
  • Don’t run scared of government – need for a richer conversation around testing, enabling and sharing data

Jonathan Breckon (Alliance for Useful Evidence) – Lead the sector and share and generate evidence for wider benefit:

  • Funders could make better use of evidence by sharing it more widely – not just with other funders but with practitioners and policymakers
  • PHF could be an early adopter of the Open Philanthropy agenda – including matching funding data with data from other sources to develop evidence base in different social policy areas
  • Evidence ranging from systematic reviews to small ethnographic studies has large unmet potential to improve funding decisions – PHF could be an exemplar foundation in recognising the power of using evidence in its decision-making

Anita Kerwin-Nye (Not Dead Fish) set out a 10 point countdown of thing PHF should do including:

  • Continue with combination of direct grant funding and setting up own project because it really works
  • Use funding to build new collaborations – nothing gets people around a table faster than the potential for cash
  • Fund communication – nobody else is funding development of more knowledgeable users or creation of knowledge networks to share learning
  • Be creative in what you mean by impact – hearts and minds matter as much as numbers, enable organisations to take pictures and tell stories to show their impact
  • Not innovate if that means creating shiny new things to meet funders’ objectives, innovate if you mean the Oxford definition – “making changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products”

Source: PHF