Getting there won’t be easy. Our registration form for nonprofits includes a question asking how we can improve the form, and I’ve gotten a lot of useful feedback from it (which I’m incorporating as we speak), but I’ve also gotten some ludicrously enthusiastic praise for what is, in fact, a series of about 10 checkboxes.
I read a lot about the power imbalance between funders and funded, and how the funded can’t speak their minds. I believe this is a real problem, because in private, personal conversations, I hear all kinds of horrible things about large foundations – yet public criticism of them is unbelievably rare considering that they are (a) huge (b) constantly making controversial and debatable decisions that affect us all.
Maybe the Gates Foundation feels good about dodging criticism and maintaining a pretty squeaky-clean image. But that isn’t our goal; our goal is just to help the world as much as we can, and given how difficult that is, that means getting criticized. A lot. On our process, our decisions, our logo, you name it. The more feedback we get, the better we’ll be. I’m already brainstorming about all the ways I can induce our applicants to give constant, totally honest feedback about how we’re running the process and how we can do better. (Any ideas? Comment.) Mark my words: we’re going to catch a world-record amount of flak.