Key Points

Cultivation is a decentralized approach to place-based philanthropy where the foundation seeks to activate local stakeholders and assist them in translating their ideas into action. Rather than convening a strategic planning process, cultivation presumes that the seeds of high-payoff solutions are already circulating somewhere in the community. The foundation’s role is to support local stakeholders in developing and implementing their own ideas in ways that produce meaningful impacts.

This article describes the cultivation approaches taken by the Clinton Foundation, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, and The Colorado Health Foundation, and presents findings from an evaluation of the Clinton Foundation’s Community Health Transformation model.

Building on the results of this evaluation and our experience with all three foundations, we assess the potential of the cultivation approach and indicate how it complements collective impact.

We also introduce a taxonomy of the six roles foundations play in place-based philanthropy, which is useful in clarifying intent and theory of change.

Open Access