Where we are now
We began our new model with a handful of individuals applying openness to a small range of fields, including philanthropy, intellectual property, education, and telecommunications. Today, our community of fellows past and present has swelled to 54, most of whom remain active members, long after their funding period has finished. But, more importantly, the vast majority are still influential and pursuing social change in their chosen fields.
Our subject matter has also grown beyond traditional philanthropic fare. We have supported individuals developing openly accessible cell cultures, structuring fact-checking organisations around open principles, and creating open, affordable medical and conservation hardware. There have been significant successes as a direct result of a fellowship, but because we support innovators at the very forefront of their fields, progress is more important than immediate results. The real fruits of our work lie five, ten, or even fifteen years after a fellowship.
Mark Surman became a fellow in 2007 to help us apply openness to philanthropy. While open was a big part of his character back then, it was not as central to his strategic thinking as it is today. Now, he invests annual budgets of millions to protect the free and open web with the Mozilla Foundation. The social return on our investment in Mark has grown exponentially as he embeds our open philosophy institutionally and significantly influences the philanthropic dollar.
Our experiment in philanthropy continues to evolve as we seek alternative funding strategies and explore collaborative ways of working. But these ideas of openness, individuals, and fellowship remain core pieces of the puzzles we are trying to solve: to make philanthropy more effective, provide better support for our fellows, and enable lasting social change.
From donors to grantees, the philanthropic world seeks to meet an infinite number of challenges in an endless number of ways. Our model is not suited to meet every one of those challenges, nor does it guarantee success. However, we believe it is a philosophy and practical framework that enables changemakers to dig deeper into an idea and help it resonate further and longer into the future.