Maverick Collective by PSI – An Experiential Approach to Philanthropy

Designed by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors for emerging philanthropists, Volume 1: A Roadmap to a More Just World provides a solid foundation by addressing mindset, goal setting, approaches, innovative grant support, and impactful ways to assess and enhance giving. Check out the case study on Maverick Collective here!

Philanthropy ·

CASE STUDY in Reimagined Philanthropy: A Roadmap to a More Just World

Maverick Collective by Population Services International – An Experiential Approach to Philanthropy

Originally published on pages 63 and 64 by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in November, 2023.

Access the full volume here.

Maverick Collective by PSI has grown into an innovative collaborative of 40+ women that has mobilized $100 million in resources, impacting more than 6.7 million women and girls, since its founding by Population Services International (PSI) in 2013.

Combining the vision and leadership of PSI, in partnership with Melinda French Gates and Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Norway Mette-Marit, Maverick Collective is a community of women philanthropists making catalytic investments in health and reproductive rights to accelerate gender equality.

A Hands-On Approach

Maverick Collective embodies its values of boldness, curiosity, community and impact through its unique experiential philanthropy approach. Through hands-on experiences with the programs they fund, philanthropic partners become more authentic, activated, and accountable agents of change.

Three unique programs – Maverick Venture, Maverick Next and the new Maverick Portfolio – guide members toward deep engagement with the projects they fund through regular calls, emails and project visits. These projects are chosen through a vetted pipeline of project options that are identified as strategic and potentially catalytic initiatives. Maverick Portfolio is developed in partnership with Fòs Feminista, a feminist alliance with 170+ network members.

Through the experiential philanthropy model, funders and project teams build strong relationships. While members still receive reports, join virtual team meetings and attend conferences, the most unique experiences come from engaging in work alongside local leaders and communities. Essentially, the relationships built among members and between funders and grantees are strong.

Maverick Collective’s Natalie Fellows explains that these forms of deeper participation “foster deep relationships that go beyond a typical funder-grantee dynamic,” which results in a trusting environment. One example of this is when Maverick Next members visited PSI’s Smart Start program in Ethiopia and had a frank discussion about how donor behavior can either help or hinder the potential for real impact. Shifting Systems Initiative’s publication Seeing, Facilitating, and Assessing Systems Change states “collaboration works most smoothly when it is anchored in trust, and collaboration built on sturdy relationships among members enjoys stronger growth.”

The Power of Community

Another example of the success of this collaborative approach is the success in Uganda of Maama Kits, a WHO-recommended kit intended to reduce postpartum hemorrhaging, the cause of one in three maternal deaths in Uganda.28 With an investment from Maverick Collective Founding Member Sara Ojjeh, PSI Uganda successfully advocated for the Ministry of Health to add lifesaving misoprostol and chlorhexidine to the kit guidelines and to make the kit accessible at community level. The pilot project has significantly increased hygienic birthing practices and seen a decline in postpartum hemorrhaging, and will be adopted throughout Uganda.

“The power of the community means their funding can be leveraged for greater impact,” says Fellows. By working together as a group, these women can create impact that has rarely been available to an individual philanthropist and work toward systems change instead of shorter-term projects. Additionally, the work the community does in service of its projects and as an innovative practice in the sector underscores Maverick Collective’s commitment to “achieving triple impact: impact on women and girls; impact on the members; impact on philanthropy at large.”

Through experiential philanthropy, Maverick Collective and its parent organization, PSI, show how innovative and collaborative models of funding can create sustainable, transformative change. Funders come to Maverick Collective with “flexible funding, and a willingness to be bold, curious and humble,” Fellows concludes. “This makes their capital invaluable, as PSI is able to pilot new solutions and test innovations that are in a traditional donor’s blind spots.”

By fostering relationships, emphasizing learning and trust, and truly centering the communities it serves, Maverick Collective continues to illuminate those blind spots in both complex systemic issues throughout the world and in the philanthropic sector as a whole.

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