Thanks and go for it, Kellogg Foundation

Posted by Donna Callejon on April 17th, 2008

We probably don’t say as much as we should about the people and organizations who have directly supported building the GlobalGiving marketplace. It’s a pretty amazing group of funders – Omidyar Network, Skoll Foundation, John and Ginger Sall, and the Hewlett Foundation – and a couple of anonymous donors – have all contributed significantly. We are both humbled and inspired by their confidence in GG’s vision, and our ability to execute against that vision. A few years back the Kellogg Foundation provided a small grant that was very timely. And we are about to work with them on some innovative ways to leverage online giving tools to support their grantees.

Two reasons for this post:  First, as a shout out to Kellogg for being a strong and innovative funder in the philanthropy space. They have consistently supported anchor organizations in the philanthropic sector (e.g, Independent Sector and Guidestar), and made important investments in emerging and innovative organizations like Kiva, Network for Good and the Women’s Funding Network. We’re glad to count ourselves among that latter group.

Second, on Monday the Chronicle of Philanthropy ran an article about WKKF’s revitalized mission – focusing on vulnerable children. Since the Chronicle has a subscription-only block on the article, (if you have a subscription, can be found here) here are the opening paragraphs:

In May 2007, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation gathered its more than 200 staff members for a three-day discussion and brainstorming session. It was the start of a soul-searching process that has led to a new mission statement and, for the foundation’s program staff, a new organizational structure that goes into effect this week.The changes are designed to break down divisions among departments within the organization, seek multifaceted approaches to solving problems, and sharpen the organization’s focus on the vision of its founder, W.K. Kellogg, the breakfast-cereal magnate.

All of the foundation’s grant-making staff members will be assigned to interdisciplinary teams in an organizational system that is rare among foundations but common in large companies.

Sterling Speirn, president of the foundation, in Battle Creek, Mich., describes the overhaul as “starting the next generation of our work.”

Speirn most recently led the Peninsula Community Foundation, so he’s lived in the most innovative valley in the country. He has brought on a new crop of leaders, to augment the strong leadership team already there. WKKF is taking on its own culture and norms by structuring itself in a very “matrix-y” fashion – and sharpening the focus of its grantmaking. And they are committing an initial $100 million to a new Mission Driven Investment Fund – twice as large as any other foundation’s “non-grant” portfolio. That’s revitalization!

I spent the day Tuesday in Battle Creek, and I can attest that the place is ready for change. The structures are changing, the expectations are changing. And we are glad to be part of the energy, possibility and promise of the next chapter.

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