King Philanthropies, in tandem with our partner organizations, pursues a highly intentional and carefully targeted approach to philanthropy. We conduct proactive and rigorous due diligence to select grantees that align with our core mission. For that reason, we cannot accept unsolicited grant proposals or other requests for funding.
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The King Essentials team conducts proactive and rigorous due diligence to select grantees that align with mission and methodology of this initiative. For that reason, we cannot accept unsolicited grant proposals.
We award grants to organizations that meet three criteria:
Essential Human Need: Does the organization pursue work that aligns with one of our priority investment areas?
Proven Intervention: Does the organization have a base of compelling impact evidence for its work, as well as a track record of successfully scaling its operations?
High-Performing Leadership: Does the organization embody the seven essential elements of excellence in the social sector (as outlined in the book Engine of Impact)?
To learn more about King Essentials and its methodology, please click here.
Through a rigorous strategic planning process, we have identified several priority investment areas, including agriculture and food security, early childhood development, girls’ education, and land rights. For a complete list of these areas, and for more information on our planning process, please visit our Priority Investment Areas page.
King Essentials focuses its grantmaking in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, and particularly in countries with high rates of extreme poverty. We commit to making grants in a given country only after analyzing the specific challenges and opportunities that affect poverty alleviation efforts in that country. For a list of countries where we work, please visit our Current Focus Countries page.
We fund organizations that are ready to achieve impact at scale in a particular investment area and in a particular country. To enable these organizations to pursue that goal, we typically commit to awarding multi-year, unrestricted grants.
We do not fund early-stage ventures. When we established King Essentials, we determined that a healthy ecosystem for funding new and emerging organizations was already in place within the social sector. Funders like Ashoka, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Echoing Green, and the Mulago Foundation (to name just a few) do excellent work in that part of the sector. At the same time, we identified a funding gap for mezzanine-stage ventures—for organizations with a proven model that are seeking capital to scale their impact. King Philanthropies focuses on this niche. Our portfolio therefore includes only organizations that have been operating for several years. In most cases, these organizations have undergone rigorous third-party impact evaluation and have scaled to a point where they reach hundreds of thousands of people.
The majority of our portfolio consists of nonprofit organizations. However, if we encounter a for-profit enterprise that is achieving extraordinary impact, we will consider funding it. In general, we are impact-first funders and remain flexible as to how we deploy our capital. As long as an organization can demonstrate an ability to achieve impact at scale in poverty alleviation, we are agnostic about its corporate structure or revenue model.
Across our portfolio, we aim to support interventions that reach their target population at an average cost per person of $10. Because our portfolio spans different countries, different investment areas, and different types of intervention, we do not expect to meet that standard in all cases. But we focus our grantmaking on organizations that are able to scale their operations efficiently.
In 2012, we launched the King Scholars program at Dartmouth University; in 2017, we launched the King-Morgridge Scholars program at University of Wisconsin–Madison; and in 2018, we launched the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program at Stanford University. To learn more about the Global Scholars initiative as a whole, click here.
We rely on our partner institutions to manage our Global Scholars programs. To learn more about becoming a King Scholar at Dartmouth College, please click here. To learn more about becoming a King-Morgridge Scholar at University of Wisconsin–Madison, please click here. To learn more about becoming a Knight-Hennessey Scholar at Stanford University, please click here.
Global Scholars alumni live and work in communities all around the world. They are attending graduate school, engaging in social impact projects, and building their professional skills in a variety of organizational settings. To learn more about our alumni, please visit Meet Our Scholars.