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June 10, 2016

MacArthur’s $100 Million Contest a New Twist on ‘Big Bets’

NPR looks at the growing trend of philanthropic “big bets,” focusing on the MacArthur Foundation’s just-launched $100 million competition seeking a solution to a major global problem.

The 100&Change contest represents the grant maker’s biggest giveaway and reflects a push among deep-pocketed donors to make ambitious bets on tackling big social issues rather than dispersing money among a number of small projects. Earlier this year a group of philanthropies banded together to offer unrestricted grants of up to $200 million to particular charities.

The MacArthur effort differs from most big-bet donations in that it is open-ended, seeking proposals on a wide variety of issues rather than targeting a single cause. In a Wall Street Journal column, humorist Joe Queenan offers 20 challenges entrants could take up, including “Devise a universal remote that actually works,” “Invent comfortable shoes for women,” and “Figure out a way to make Atlanta interesting.”

Read Chronicle of Philanthropy articles on the MacArthur competition and other recent social-change megagifts.