In July 2008, the Bush Foundation announced a major change in strategy. We would shift from funding lots of different issues to focusing narrowly on three goals.
To advance those goals, we would shift from being open to proposals to proactively sourcing long-term partnerships. We set our sights on what we could accomplish by 2018 and called it “Goals for a Decade.” It was a big change.
It was meant to be a disruption and it was. It was a disruption for us and for others. It was a disruption in ways we intended and ways we didn’t intend.
Before launching Goals for a Decade, the Bush Foundation had operated in pretty much the same way for decades. We supported people and organizations working on a broad range of issues. Our primary work was evaluating proposals and making the best decisions we could on which to fund. Staff members prepared, and Bush Foundation board members reviewed, thick binders of funding recommendations.
The people on the board saw other foundations (like the Gates Foundation) operating with clearer strategic agendas and were increasingly asking whether it was time for a change. They were asking whether it was possible for us to have more impact, by focusing more narrowly or by operating in different ways.