In June 2016, the MacArthur Foundation launched 100&Change, a unique competition to award $100 million to whichever nonprofit or traditional company suggested how it could be best spent in solving “a critical problem of our time.”
The philanthropy didn’t define the exact problem, and that’s the point. The group’s mission statement “to build a more just, verdant, and peaceful world” is broad, and its $6.5 billion endowment is ultimately limited, so they were essentially creatively covering blind spots. Letting others point out what gaps you aren’t covering is a good way to figure out where to invest.
The submitted solutions cover everything from how to improve the education and early development of refugee children in war-torn countries to the introduction of fortified and easily cultivated crops in areas where people are going hungry and malnourished. Eight semifinalists were chosen in February. That number will likely drop to five finalists in September with the winner, judged against what’s most “meaningful, verifiable, durable, and feasible” to be announced around the end of the year.
The list offers an intriguing look into just where all types of world-changing ambition might lead. That includes the Alliance for Zero Extinction’s plan to protect 100 of the Earth’s most important sites for endangered species. And the World Wildlife Fund’s proposal to cut food waste with the U.S in half by 2024.
For the semifinalists, only one will earn the $100 million prize, so there may be some disappointment ahead. But given that there were 17 charitable gifts of that size or more in 2016, and already 11 more this year, the hope is obviously that some deep-pocketed donors might feel interested in getting involved with these causes.
In the meantime, MacArthur has partnered with nonprofit evaluator Charity Navigator to share short videos about those nonprofits that ranked in the top 25% of all 800 or so 100&Change contenders and earned strong ratings for trust and transparency from the charity watchdog.
Charity Navigator’s work to highlight these other worthy submissions offers a similar chance for average investors. Below you can watch the eight semifinalist videos, which have been polished into solid fundraising-style pitches. Click here to see all of the other submissions from top nonprofit finishers, many of which may be equally worth of donations.
Catholic Relief Charities: Changing how society cares for children in orphanages.
HarvestPlus: Eliminating hidden hunger in Africa by fortifying staple crops.
Himalayan Cataract Project: Eliminating preventable and curable blindness in Nepal, Ethiopia, and Ghana.
Human Diagnosis Project: Providing virtual access to specialist medical care for underserved U.S. patients.
Internet Archive: Providing libraries and learners free digital access to 4 million books.
Rice University: Improving newborn survival in Africa.
Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee: Educating children displaced by conflict and persecution.
The Carter Center: Eliminating river blindness in Nigeria.
Correction: Semifinalists were announced in February, not March. Details have been added to clarify submissions and how MacArthur and Charity Navigator are collaborating.