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This year Rational Games passed an important milestone in its philanthropic work: adding match-funded contributions from strategic partners to our grants given directly, we have now given away a million dollars to projects using games and play to resolve conflict. Certainly an occasion to celebrate!

For me personally, this is a great accomplishment. From a standing start in 2001 we have, through the hard work of our team, trainers and board, generated this sum piece by piece and identified and worked with a number of fascinating and innovative projects along the way… KPis are important, also for a social business, and this is a big one. We are encouraged to keep going, perhaps with $ 1 million awarded out of own funds as the next stop on the road ahead.

In terms of serious philanthropy, however, we must recognize that this is nothing much. When I read that Michael Bloomberg is personally paying the $4.5 million in lapsed payments already resulting from the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, or consider the truly inspiring work of the Gates and Carter Foundations, I have to wonder what the role of such “microphilanthropy” can be. Even measured by the standards of small family foundations, we are going to have to grow much faster and further before we can truly consider ourselves a meaningful part of this sector.

Sobering as all this is, I am encouraged by three thoughts.

Social impact is not only financial. Through our seminars on constructive business negotiations aimed at adding value for both sides, we have touched thousands of lives and perhaps had a deeper influence on the values and assumptions of a few. Through pro bono seminar and coaching work, we have brought this message to organizations perhaps closer to philanthropy than we are. I am not sure how to measure all this, but it feels substantial.

Recently, we have also learned to move away from the hub and spoke system and encourage relationships and networks between our grantees. Sometimes, it is best for funders to get out of the way and let grantees shine. A multipolar array of projects offers unexpected potential for growth.

Finally, we also can do a better job building relationships with other philanthropists. According to American Philanthropic, less than half of US philanthropic cooperate in any meaningful way with each other. This is why we have now launched a concerted and systematic effort to get to know larger players who are enthused by our idea of games and play to resolve conflict and can perhaps help us expand our reach. This has already born initial fruit. Dear Blog readers, any leads on prospects for this project are more than welcome.

Yes, a million dollars is something to be proud of. And something to build on.


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