To achieve this objective, we organize our work around seven strategic principles.
Focus on the mission
We use our carefully honed mission statement as a tool to help us stay on track. Too often, organizations in the social sector expand their activities beyond their core purpose or beyond their core competencies. As a result, they suffer from “mission creep” and lose their ability to make an impact. By holding fast to our mission, we maintain a clear sense of when to say “yes” to strategically aligned opportunities and when to say “no” to nonaligned activities.
Serve the target population
We strive to understand the people whom we aspire to help, and we orient our work toward meeting their needs. Today, 85% of people who live in extreme poverty reside in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and 80% of them reside in rural areas. We therefore target our work so that we can efficiently reach beneficiaries in those geographies. At the same time, we monitor changing rates of urbanization and migration, along with other shifts in this target population.
Identify priority investment areas
We channel our grants into fields of activity that hold considerable promise for the goal of alleviating extreme poverty. To identify these priority investment areas, we engage in rigorous strategic planning, and we deploy a set of well-defined criteria to guide our decisionmaking. These criteria include evidence of impact, cost-effectiveness, linkage to poverty alleviation, ability to make a difference, neglect by other donors, and size of unmet need.Priority Investment Areas →
Support high-performing leaders and organizations
We base our work on the conviction that effective programs depend on effective leaders and effective organizations to implement them. For this reason, we put a premium on identifying and supporting exceptional leaders and the organizations that they build. We also invest in developing a base of knowledge about high-performance leadership and organizational excellence in the social sector.Impact Resources →
Pursue impact at scale
We aspire to fund organizations and activities that will achieve enduring, substantial improvements in the lives of beneficiaries. Because the challenge of extreme poverty exists on a vast scale, we believe that efforts to address this challenge must have the capacity for expanding both their depth and their reach. This principle in turn drives our commitment to rigorous impact evaluation: We seek out evidence that projects are able to make a difference in more and more people’s lives, and we adjust our strategy in response to data on project scalability.
Adopt a portfolio model
We analyze the varying levels of risk and reward that relate to different interventions, and we use that information to take a portfolio approach to our work. This principle applies both across various initiatives and within them. The King Essentials portfolio, for example, includes countries with vastly different levels of infrastructure, government capacity, and economic development. For each country, moreover, we bring in grantees that work in different fields of activity and pursue different theories of change.Portfolio Organizations →
Respond to fundamental change forces
We follow the model of our cofounder Bob King, who achieved significant success as an investor by using a framework based on what he calls “fundamental change forces.” Before investing in an industry, he identifies and analyzes the forces—political, social, economic, and technological—that will shape the future of that industry. At King Philanthropies, we apply a similar approach to evaluating the forces that affect the lives of those who live in extreme poverty.Our Founders →