100 million ideas for $100 million

October 12, 2016
The Pact-led consortium's campaign aims to take out the negative to address intolerance.

Like many nonprofits around the world, Pact buzzed with excitement around the release of the MacArthur 100&Change competition in the spring of 2016. The MacArthur Foundation was offering an unprecedented $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that can make measurable progress toward solving a critical problem of our time. Solutions needed to be bold and audacious. There was no problem statement. No scope of work. Just a call to dream big.

Pact’s normal business development model, similar to other international NGOs, is designed to respond to requests for proposals, often heavily prescriptive, specific and structured. We are given the problem statement, objectives and results and build a proposal around those guidelines.

But when it came to MacArthur, none of this existed. So Pact decided to flip our traditional business practice  on its head. Instead of starting with what we know we do well – what we aim to achieve within an existing scope of work – we threw everything out the window and created the space for ourselves to think outside the box and create transformational change.

We let go of the challenges we tackle daily around the world and decided to host a brainstorming session on the greatest problems of our time, from youth to renewable energy and refugees to child labor. The more we brainstormed, the more we heard the words of anger, hate, racism and xenophobia that pervade our mainstream and social media today

We could not ignore that intolerance represents a rising global phenomenon, and in order for the world to achieve the SDGs, combating intolerance and celebrating diversity will be critical. Pursuing a solution to intolerance can only bolster Pact's work around the world.

We knew we needed to build a coalition worthy of tackling this complex, nuanced, pervasive global problem. We began building a consortium of talented  partners with unique skillsets.

The consortium began to tackle the issue together. To co-create and co-design a problem statement, scope of work, objectives, goals and solutions. This took an incredible amount of patience, flexibility, comfort in the non-linear and ambiguous and an honest dose of faith in our abilities.

The world was our oyster, so we could have come up with any problem and solution. We could wind up with a 100 million different ways of solving global intolerance. But, by throwing the standard NGO rule book, process and conformity out of the window, we gave ourselves the opportunity to come up with 100 million solutions to a critical problem of our time.

Want to learn more about our solution to intolerance? Watch our MacArthur 100&Change video below or on YouTube.