Like any philanthropic funder, the Constellation Fund represents a marketplace of ideas. In our case, the market is not filled with vendors offering fruits and vegetables, but instead with committed organizations offering many different types of philanthropic interventions. In the commercial world, the goods that sell in a market are sorted and ranked by the interaction of supply and demand, and with key indicators like profits and losses. In the philanthropic world, by contrast, competition cannot be relied upon to select the interventions having the largest impacts. The task of sorting is left to the judgment of the funder. At Constellation, we believe that this judgment should be informed by the best possible information.
To accomplish this goal in support of our poverty-fighting mission, Constellation uses data and research to carefully value the measurable improvements that differing poverty-fighting interventions are making in the living standards of poor residents. Specifically, we thoughtfully leverage peer-reviewed research, local demographic information, and data from nonprofits to conduct careful benefit-cost analyses that allow us to better understand the relative impacts of different poverty alleviation programs. We match that best-in-class quantitative analysis with thoughtful qualitative evaluations – such as the quality of a nonprofit’s leadership and on-the-ground insights about pressing community needs – in order to fund the poverty-fighting interventions that, judged with all the best available evidence, are the most promising among available options.