Stanford Social Innovation Review : Informing and inspiring leaders of social change



Letting Go

Foundations often undermine their own efforts by micromanaging how social problems are solved. Two insiders explore why foundations have developed this way and what grant makers can do to foster high impact strategies.


We would probably be better off as a society if the decision makers in the nation’s large private foundations took up surfing. Why? Because surfing is about letting go, and that’s what foundations must do to achieve higher impact. Surfing is incredibly humbling, an encounter with the enormous power, beauty, and unpredictability of the ocean. No surfer would attempt to change the shape of the waves or the schedule of the tides, because these forces are far beyond any one person’s control.


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