Last week I was with a team of folks in Columbus, Ohio, focused on poverty and family. The host organization was The RIDGE Project, an organization founded fifteen years ago by Ron and Cathy Tijerina. Their success rate in working with incarcerated men is stunning, beating the average national recidivism rates by 30 percentage points.
The demand for The RIDGE Project is sweeping the nation because they tie their very focused work to a bigger terrifying problem, the economic viability of American cities and freedom. At first blush, incarcerated men might seem distant from the big terrifying problem, but their donors say, “Not so.”
Emerging from conversations like this one is a process for obtaining catalytic funding for our nation’s most intractable problems. Unlike small contributions or tips, which just keep things ticking along, catalytic funding creates or accelerates real change. The process goes like this:
- The solution offered must work and link to a big, terrifying problem.
- The size of the solution must match the problem.
- The strategy has to be proportionate to the problem.
- And finally, the budget must match the size of the problem.
Challenge your favorite charity to do some thinking about tips from donors vs. catalytic funding. Is their solution linked to a big, terrifying problem? Do they need to increase the size, strategy, and budget of their solution? You contribute because it stirs your heart’s desire for change. Who else needs to be connected for good to solve the big, terrifying problem that you perceive?
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