For nearly a decade, we at the Ford Foundation have been on a journey to reimagine philanthropy around the needs of our grantee partners.
Along the way, we’ve made mission-related investments, issued our historic social bond, and, most recently, ended all further investment in the fossil fuel industry. But one of our first—and arguably, most foundational—commitments was the Building Institutions and Networks, or BUILD, initiative: a $1 billion, wraparound support program designed to strengthen key organizations to advance justice around the world.
Since we announced BUILD six years ago, this flexible approach to funding has become core to our work. In fact, general support has grown from just a third of our overall grantmaking budget in 2015 to become 80% of our budget in 2022.
For us, this has been a necessary transformation—and according to the organizations that have received this support, it’s been “transformative.”
After a four-year independent evaluation of BUILD, we are proud to release the BUILD developmental evaluation report, which affirms what we’ve long held: that multiyear, unrestricted funding combined with dedicated institutional development leads to stronger, more resilient organizations of all structures, sectors, and sizes—and deeper connections to the communities they serve.
In this report, you’ll find a detailed summary of our partners' successes—how they’ve strengthened their people and finances, strategies and systems—alongside areas for improvement and lessons learned along the way. We are grateful for the steadfast vision, energy, and enthusiasm our grantees have shared—and, with the support of our Board of Trustees, we are determined to build on their success.
To that end, we are thrilled to kick off the next generation of flexible funding and multiyear general support. Fueled by another $1 billion over the course of five years, this next installment of BUILD will bolster existing engagements with organizations led by women, people of color, people with disabilities, and members of other historically excluded groups. By definition, our BUILD grantees are essential partners to the foundation—and they will remain so long after their BUILD grants end, as they transition to other forms of grant support at FORD. In fact, it is because of the success they’ve modeled that we feel so compelled to extend the BUILD experience to more incredible organizations.
We hope that based on these findings, more funders, government leaders, and private sector partners will join us in this journey—and more organizations will have the evidence they need to advocate for sustained funding. Together, with flexible support and firm commitments, we can build institutions and impact that last, and let grantee partners lead the way.