approach to philanthropy


We have learned many valuable lessons since launching the Raikes Foundation in 2002. One of the most important is that doing philanthropy well requires a lot of hard work. We've also learned that to sustain the energy and motivation necessary to achieve our goals, it’s imperative to lead with our heart and support causes we care deeply about.   

But passion alone is not enough.  To effect lasting change, we believe in engaging the head as well as the heart to develop thoughtful, disciplined grantmaking strategies that incorporate regular reflection and ensure we are on track to reach our objectives.

With these lessons in mind, we spend a great deal of time reviewing and refining our approach to philanthropy at the Raikes Foundation.  We study our predecessors, we exchange ideas with our peers and we listen closely to our partners and grantees.  As a result, our approach to philanthropy is always a work in progress. 

Nonetheless, we do have several core principles that influence every grant we make and every strategy we pursue.  

  • We work at the systems level – Every social issue that impacts large groups of people is shaped by a complex system of players ranging from families to governments, nonprofits and business owners.  So whether we are working with homeless youth in King County, Washington, or K-12 education across the U.S., our aim is always to find solutions that move everyone in the system to produce more positive outcomes for young people.
  • We prioritize collaboration – Systems-level solutions are only possible when broad groups of people and organizations work together with common purpose, so we are always looking to enlist the support of like-minded partners and grantees who share our goals.
  • We focus on high-leverage opportunities – Our time and resources are limited, so we conduct research to identify overlooked or underfunded issues where we believe our resources can have outsized positive impact on populations in need.
  • We embrace “smart risk” – The philanthropic sector is uniquely situated to undertake certain high-risk investments that may be unattractive to the private sector because they do not promise financial returns, or unappealing to the public sector because they could have political consequences.  We embrace our risk-taking role, but we do not take risks blindly.  Rather, we do our homework and look for “smart risks” where we see the potential of greater returns for society.
  • We are data-centric – Thanks to our roots in the business world we are big believers in the power of data and the importance of metrics to ensure we and our partners can derive insights for continuous improvement, and to guide us on our path to the outcomes we are trying to achieve.
  • We consider our voice an asset – To amplify the impact of our grantmaking dollars, we believe it is crucial to use communications and advocacy to educate and inspire new and existing audiences to support our work.
  • We work with a sense of urgency – We are anxious to put our resources to work for society, and we want to effect change quickly. So we will distribute the Raikes Foundation's assets in our family's lifetime.