Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Opening up the input to a funder, not just the output

A growing number of funding agencies require OA to the research they fund.  But here's a first:  a funder (the Packard Foundation) using an open-access, open-contribution wiki to gather opinion on whether it should launch a certain funding program in the first place (on nitrogen pollution and agriculture).  The foundation explains:

...A decision to establish a grantmaking program on nitrogen/agriculture will depend on whether the Foundation has developed a compelling grantmaking strategy, which details the goals, outcomes, strategies, and activities that it will pursue....

Foundations regularly use grantmaking strategies to orient their philanthropic investments. These strategies are typically developed by foundation staff, by philanthropic intermediaries, or by consulting firms. Through this Wiki site, we would like to experiment with an alternative to these models for strategy development. We are concerned that the existing models for strategy development cast far too narrow a net in their search for creative solutions. They are unable to benefit from the wisdom, experience, and expertise present within civil society, private sector, and academic institutions. They lack the transparency and opportunity for critical review that could aid in their development and that could help grantees to determine whether they might play a role in implementing the strategy. And, they tend to reinforce networks involving individuals and institutions with existing relationships to the foundation without providing opportunities for the creation of new networks and partnerships between donors and possible grant recipients.

Through this Web site, the Packard Foundation would like to bring the wisdom of crowds to bear on the development of a possible grantmaking strategy....

We will make the full product of this Wiki site available to the Foundation's Trustees at their June Board meeting and staff will use the product of the site in developing a recommended strategy for the Trustees to consider. We are documenting this process and will prepare a review of the experience and recommendations that could inform similar efforts in the future. This report will be made available to the public on this Web site....

(Thanks to Jim Till.)