Since 1991 we have supported organizations working to improve our world and the quality of life for its inhabitants. Underlying this commitment are four core values
We believe that attention to meaningful goals is crucial to the work we do but that credit for such work is not. We have found that the path to our goals is rarely a straight one, however, and we endeavor to remain adaptive to opportunity and in the face of challenges. A willingness to be adaptive is a useful complement, we think, to the clarity with which we hold our intentions.
The scale of our funding compared to the magnitude of the crises we seek to address often requires that we look for creative and catalytic solutions. That makes it more likely that we may experience failures along the way. Thus, we remind ourselves to learn as much from our failures as our successes. We do not need be certain of success to justify the risk of any grant: we accept that we and others may fail in spite of our best efforts. In being clear about what we intend to accomplish, we are reminded consistently about how much we do not yet know. Thus, we seek to bring our curiosity along with our determination. We also recognize the need for persistence in our work since meaningful progress in the face of significant challenges takes consistent effort applied over long periods of time.
There is an inherent optimism in philanthropy, which depends on a belief that the world can be made better through the application of effort. In doing our work, we regard such effort as a description of what we mean by fun and which includes a recognition of the ambition to be of use in the face of enormous challenge. We believe that this spirit should extend to the warmth and respect we offer to those with whom we work, and even to those with whom we do not.
Even in occasions when we may not agree, we seek to understand opposing points of view and to be deliberate in seeking to learn from perspectives that may be informed by different experience. Such efforts do not demand that we find agreement but do require that we seek to balance our own expectations with the expectations others may rightly have of us. We are mindful of the power imbalances inherent in grantmaking as well as those of historical (and often current) power structures that may lend undue authority to our positions at the expense of those with less formal or informal power.
We believe that most people share an aspiration to improve the world around them and the lives of the people they care about. We try to center our activities in a belief that to succeed, we must trust each other and place trust in those with whom we work.
It is in keeping with our view of our responsibility that we seek to achieve a high standard of governance and to honor the public trust we bear in our work. We also seek to manage our assets with a view to future obligations and our desire to continue this work in future generations.
We do not pledge blindness to evidence that should cause us doubt; we have no ignorance that trust is always deserved. But we believe that most people are worthy of trust and that the benefits of trusting people far outweigh the costs when it is misplaced.