Measuring ‘success’

"You can’t make a significant change in a year...the Shuttleworth Foundation invests in long-term goals, without the need to achieve change in a short period."

  • Ugo Vallauri
We are interested in changing systems and behaviours but understand that it doesn't happen overnight. Social change is a messy business, involving an almost unfathomable depth of factors and rarely occurs through the actions of one person, project, or idea. Furthermore, we recognise that you are the expert of your domain, not us. This sets us apart from many funders that you might have experienced in the past: philanthropy can be obsessive about metrics and often demands that progress happens in precise, internally-driven ways. We do not believe this to be effective, efficient, or fair.
Our strategy is to ask you to be the barometer and define your terms for success. We will poke around a little and challenge your framing, but ultimately we give you the power to map your journey the best way you see fit. And we will talk honestly and openly with you, constantly evaluating and re-evaluating each step throughout the fellowship, allowing opportunities for course correction or new iterations.
This funding is about you, and our support is focused on building your resilience to continue your pursuit of social change long into your life. 'Success' to us is about making progress through iterative steps. And by sharing all of your successes - and failures - with us along the way, they become invaluable to our community, feeding into our collective knowledge and turning into helpful information that others can learn from or build upon.
We do not judge the outcomes of a fellowship immediately and wait five years before reflecting properly on your progress, giving the work time to breathe. Are you still actively pursuing your vision? Do you continue to advocate for openness and apply it to your field? Have you developed your leadership, and are you influencing behaviour, policy, or practice? These are the questions we believe funders should asking, not whether something has scaled significantly or contributed to growth on a balance sheet. These are vanity metrics; nothing more.
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