Bridgespan 2017 Annual Report

Cases. Staff. Culture. Impact.

These things make up life here at Bridgespan. It’s not easy to truly understand what makes Bridgespan tick from the outside, so here is a snapshot of our year.

Jeffrey L. Bradach

Managing Partner & Co-founder

Thomas J. Tierney

Chairman & Co-founder

To our friends and colleagues…

Over the last year, Bridgespan has been privileged to work with an extraordinary number of leaders of mission-driven organizations and philanthropists. What we learned from this work, and from our own research initiatives, we shared with the social sector. Some highlights from our recent work:

Leading for Impact. When we think of leaders, we often think of an inspirational single individual at the top of the organization. But in our work, we frequently advise leadership teams. Our Leading for Impact® program embodies this approach. Leading for Impact® is a two-year consulting program that helps executive teams from ambitious nonprofits pursue strategic opportunities and build capacity to improve their performance. We provide the teams coaching and training in strategic management concepts and tools. In five cities over the last several years (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and Washington, DC), we engaged more than 1,100 leaders from almost 200 nonprofits. In an effort to improve the performance of even more organizations, we have launched an initial set of online courses: Investing in Future Leaders and Achieving Strategic Clarity. During these courses, executive teams engage when they’re ready with online lessons and guided team activities.

Strategic Advisory Work. In this 2017 annual report, we feature three extraordinary organizations we have had the privilege to serve.

  • Upstream, a young nonprofit co-led by Mark Edwards and Peter Belden, has the potential to change the lives of millions of women by enabling them to plan their pregnancies through access to better contraception. In 2017, the Blue Meridian Partners donor collaborative committed to invest $60 million in Upstream’s efforts.
  • The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has played a crucial role in many of the social justice fights of the last 50 years. While the organization’s mission is more important than ever, ADL had begun to suffer from a diffusion of effort and sprawl, with 27 regional offices and 2,000 board members. Bridgespan supported the ADL leadership team with a plan to shift to a more focused and coordinated set of programs.

Read More ∨

  • The JPB Foundation (JPB) sought Bridgespan’s help to develop an innovative model for how a funder might support the advancement of a field of practice around antipoverty work. JPB’s efforts focused on the Center for Community Change (CCC) and a “hub and network strategy” that builds the capacity of low-income people, especially those of color, to improve their communities and public policies. JPB provided CCC with significant financial support and worked with it to identify and support a set of important poverty fighting organizations that would complement CCC’s work.

Multiyear Initiatives.  Four years ago, we decided that along with our ongoing research and publishing work, we needed to focus on a narrower set of issues and stay with them for multiple years if we were to see real change. We launched three multiyear initiatives—Big Bets, Pay What It Takes (focused on the nonprofit starvation cycle), and Transformative Scale—around which we have done extensive advisory work,  idea development, and engagement of a broad community of leaders grappling with these issues. We recently added a fourth initiative, Impact Investing.  There is a tremendous amount of buzz about the potential of impact investing to unlock large new pools of money for social benefit. Too often, the “investing” side of the equation swamps the “impact” side. Our focus is on how to ensure that the impact intended in such deals is actually realized.

India. Bridgespan now has been in India for more than three years and assembled a talented team of 15 people. We have had the privilege of working with some of India’s leading philanthropists and NGOs, giving us the opportunity to contribute to Indian’s social sector and to learn from it. Indian organizations hold many lessons for leaders in the United States and around the world. Take, for example, the issue of scale. Some of the largest and most effective nonprofits in the world are in India, and we can learn much from them (see “Why Indian Nonprofits are Experts at Scaling Up”). Our research initiatives in India on leadership development and “bold bets” also offer insights that inform practice outside India, and at the same time, benefit from the work done in the United States on those issues.

We never cease to be inspired and awed by the extraordinary leaders in the social sector that are committed to making the world a more just and equitable place. At Bridgespan, we count ourselves lucky to be able to help them advance their crucial work. And we are deeply grateful to the clients, funders, and team members who make our work possible.

Read Less ∧

To our friends and colleagues…

Over the last year, Bridgespan has been privileged to work with an extraordinary number of leaders of mission-driven organizations and philanthropists. What we learned from this work, and from our own research initiatives, we shared with the social sector. Some highlights from our recent work:

 

Read More ∨

Leading for Impact. When we think of leaders, we often think of an inspirational single individual at the top of the organization. But in our work, we frequently advise leadership teams. Our Leading for Impact® program embodies this approach. Leading for Impact® is a two-year consulting program that helps executive teams from ambitious nonprofits pursue strategic opportunities and build capacity to improve their performance. We provide the teams coaching and training in strategic management concepts and tools. In five cities over the last several years (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and Washington, DC), we engaged more than 1,100 leaders from almost 200 nonprofits. In an effort to improve the performance of even more organizations, we have launched an initial set of online courses: Investing in Future Leaders and Achieving Strategic Clarity.  During these courses, executive teams engage when they’re ready with online lessons and guided team activities.

Strategic Advisory Work. In this 2017 annual report, we feature three extraordinary organizations we have had the privilege to serve.

  • Upstream, a young nonprofit co-led by Mark Edwards and Peter Belden, has the potential to change the lives of millions of women by enabling them to plan their pregnancies through access to better contraception. In 2017, the Blue Meridian Partners donor collaborative committed to invest $60 million in Upstream’s efforts.
  • The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has played a crucial role in many of the social justice fights of the last 50 years. While the organization’s mission is more important than ever, ADL had begun to suffer from a diffusion of effort and sprawl, with 27 regional offices and 2,000 board members. Bridgespan supported the ADL leadership team with a plan to shift to a more focused and coordinated set of programs.
  • The JPB Foundation (JPB) sought Bridgespan’s help to develop an innovative model for how a funder might support the advancement of a field of practice around antipoverty work. JPB’s efforts focused on the Center for Community Change (CCC) and a “hub and network strategy” that builds the capacity of low-income people, especially those of color, to improve their communities and public policies. JPB provided CCC with significant financial support and worked with it to identify and support a set of important poverty fighting organizations that would complement CCC’s work.

Multiyear Initiatives.  Four years ago, we decided that along with our ongoing research and publishing work, we needed to focus on a narrower set of issues and stay with them for multiple years if we were to see real change. We launched three multiyear initiatives—Big Bets, Pay What It Takes (focused on the nonprofit starvation cycle), and Transformative Scale—around which we have done extensive advisory work,  idea development, and engagement of a broad community of leaders grappling with these issues. We recently added a fourth initiative, Impact Investing.  There is a tremendous amount of buzz about the potential of impact investing to unlock large new pools of money for social benefit. Too often, the “investing” side of the equation swamps the “impact” side. Our focus is on how to ensure that the impact intended in such deals is actually realized.

India. Bridgespan now has been in India for more than three years and assembled a talented team of 15 people. We have had the privilege of working with some of India’s leading philanthropists and NGOs, giving us the opportunity to contribute to Indian’s social sector and to learn from it. Indian organizations hold many lessons for leaders in the United States and around the world. Take, for example, the issue of scale. Some of the largest and most effective nonprofits in the world are in India, and we can learn much from them (see “Why Indian Nonprofits are Experts at Scaling Up”). Our research initiatives in India on leadership development and “bold bets” also offer insights that inform practice outside India, and at the same time, benefit from the work done in the United States on those issues.

We never cease to be inspired and awed by the extraordinary leaders in the social sector that are committed to making the world a more just and equitable place. At Bridgespan, we count ourselves lucky to be able to help them advance their crucial work. And we are deeply grateful to the clients, funders, and team members who make our work possible.

Read Less ∧

Clients & Collaborators

In 2017, The Bridgespan Group had the privilege to work with more than 150 mission-driven organizations, leaders, movements, philanthropists, and foundations through strategy consulting, philanthropy consulting, and Leading for Impact® engagements. A selection of these clients is featured below.

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Stories of Impact

The stories below represent a few of the remarkable organizations we are grateful to have worked with.

[Working with Bridgespan] gave us the chance to focus on the important. Here we had a set of really talented, thoughtful, analytical and, even more so, experienced people to help us look around the corner and force us to answer some questions that we just hadn’t spent the time to think about.

Mark Edwards

Co-Founder, Upstream

One of the best things I did as I transitioned into my new role was to hire Bridgespan for help with our strategic plan. They are the best strategic thinkers in our field!

Jonathan Greenblatt

CEO & National Director, Anti-Defamation League

Publications & Media

We collaborate with a broad range of social sector leaders to develop and share ideas, tools, and insights that can drive breakthrough social impact.

Our Top Articles of 2017

Ten approaches philanthropists can take to deploy their resources for social change.

A new wave of district-led efforts hold promise to overcome the challenges faced by failing schools.

Audacious Philanthropy

Fifteen breakthrough initiatives reveal a framework for philanthropists pursuing large-scale social change.

A number of replicable approaches can help NGOs and funders alike bridge the leadership development gap in India.

The Grantmaking Pyramid reframes how funders and grantees should think about building successful, resilient organizations.

Six useful starting points can help nonprofits build their capacity for continuous improvement.

Field catalysts deploy the capabilities of numerous stakeholders to advance a field’s social-change efforts.

Publications

Newsletter Subscribers

Conferences & Webinars

Conversations with Remarkable Givers: India

A video series developed in collaboration with Mint, one of India’s premier business news publications, “Conversations with Remarkable Givers: India” provides a behind-the-scenes look at philanthropy in India from the perspectives of seven experienced philanthropists.  

Media Outlets

Media Outlets

Top Social Media Posts of 2017

We've Grown

2017 was a year full of learning and growth. In San Francisco, we moved our office down the street to a new open concept office space, we welcomed four new members to our board of trustees, and the organization was strengthened by a wave of new talent.

San Francisco office move

In 2014, we moved our Boston office to an open concept space where we could experience greater collaboration and impact. We were thrilled that our move resulted in more efficient case work and an increased sense of community. In 2017, we created a similar space out west with the move of our San Francisco office.

%

Staff growth since 2016

New board members

  • Staff Growth 50% 50%
  • Target Audience Reached 80% 80%

Bridgespan Staff Count by Office


Meet the new members of our board of trustees

Cheryl Dorsey

Cheryl Dorsey

President, Echoing Green

Cheryl Dorsey has a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School; she has also served on the boards of the SEED Foundation and the Harvard Board of Overseers.

A pioneer in social entrepreneurship with over two decades of experience, Cheryl said, “I welcome this chance to be part of The Bridgespan Group and hope my experience will contribute to Bridgespan as it investigates ways to help leaders and organizations achieve lasting social change.”

John Donahoe

John Donahoe

President and CEO, ServiceNow

John Donahoe is currently president and CEO of ServiceNow. John was previously the president and CEO of eBay Inc. from 2008–2015, where he oversaw eBay, PayPal, and eBay Enterprise businesses after his 20-year career at Bain & Company.

Shortly after Bridgespan’s founding, John served on Bridgespan’s Board of Trustees and has recently returned. Said Donahoe, “It is great to be back as part of the broader Bridgespan family; I am very proud of the group’s accomplishments over these last few years and am looking forward to being part of what is ahead.”

Fred Blackwell

Fred Blackwell

CEO, The San Francisco Foundation

Fred Blackwell currently serves on the boards of Independent Sector, Northern California Grantmakers, and SPUR in addition to Bridgespan. He previously served on the boards of the California Redevelopment Association, Urban Habitat Program, LeaderSpring, Leadership Excellence, and the dean’s advisory council for Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.

He holds a master’s degree in city planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Morehouse College.

Steve Denning

Steve Denning

Chairman, General Atlantic

In addition to his role as chairman, Steve Denning is a member of General Atlantic’s Executive Committee. Steve also served on the Board of Trustees of Stanford University from 2004 to 2017, including as its chairman from 2012 to 2017. He is also chair of the Global Advisory Council at Stanford and a member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations.  Before joining General Atlantic, Steve worked at McKinsey & Company and served for six years in the US Navy.

Steve holds an MBA from Stanford University, an MS degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a BS from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Shortly after Bridgespan’s founding, Steve served on Bridgespan’s Board of Trustees and has recently returned.

We Welcomed a Fellow

Patrick Guerriero

Patrick Guerriero

April-August 2017

Fellowship Goal: To work with Bridgespan Group teams to advance knowledge of how philanthropy can advance advocacy efforts

Fellowship Publication: When Philanthropy Meets Advocacy, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2018

Culture &

Awards

 

"I’ve been here for about two years. It’s pretty exciting to have this level of impact this early on in my career–the work that we’re doing here is helping hundreds to thousands of people at a time. As hard as these questions are, we know the scale of the impact can be huge!"

 

Anum Qadir

Consultant

"I genuinely look forward every day to coming to work. To working with my colleagues, to seeing what comes next."

Sridhar Prasad

Partner

“My colleagues make the time to invest in my personal and professional development at Bridgespan, and I strive to do the same."

Lyell Sakaue

Manager

"Bridgespan's deep collaborations provide opportunities for impact that extend beyond a single case. They can influence the social sector as a whole. There aren't many workplaces where this is true."

Willa Seldon

Partner

"At Bridgespan I work closely with high-impact clients, surrounded by knowledgeable and passionate colleagues, where my voice is equally valued with partners and managers. This is what makes me excited to come to work."

Nicole Cuenca

Consultant

What Our Clients and Colleagues Say

"[EdFuel and Bridgespan] brought new perspectives to an area in which we've struggled, and they pushed us to take concrete steps in growing, developing, and retaining the home office leaders that frequently get overlooked, despite the critical role they play in the charter sector's long-term success."

 

Nithya Rajan

Vice President of Strategic Planning

Green Dot Public Schools

“Bridgespan has been a critical partner for 15 years, helping the Harlem Children’s Zone turn ideas into innovative programs to help thousands of children and families. Much of what we have done has been without precedent; Bridgespan was invaluable in helping us move through uncharted territory. Through their thoughtful counsel, we rolled out initiatives that are now models for organizations across the country.”

Geoffrey Canada

(Former) President

Harlem Children’s Zone

“For nearly a decade, Bridgespan has been an invaluable partner in helping to make the critically important work of NCLR and our Affiliate network more focused, more strategic, and more impactful. The caliber of their staff and the quality of their analysis and thinking have been consistently exceptional.”

Janet Murguía

President and CEO

NCLR

“Bridgespan helped me, through its expertise, take a vision and an idea and make it come to life so we can help real people who are suffering.”

Steve Cohen

Founder

The Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation

“We had participated in business planning before our relationship with Bridgespan began in 2005 but collaborating with them was like going from watching TV on an old black and white set to Technicolor. They’ve helped us develop six national or state plans, becoming true partners in our work, not just consultants. Bridgespan’s expertise, experience and business acumen has helped us look at the Child Welfare System very differently. They’ve consistently encouraged us to think deeper about our mission, driving us to have much greater impact in helping our country’s most vulnerable children and families–especially helping young adults aging out of the foster care system–live successfully.”

Patrick Lawler

CEO

Youth Villages

“As a client and an investor, I can say with certainty that Bridgespan is best in class. Their work is customized to client needs and rigorous in delivering results. Bridgespan helps turn philanthropic aspirations into high-impact reality.”

Julian Robertson

Robertson Foundation

Mission & Values

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Commitments