Since MacKenzie Scott announced that Tostan would be among the organizations receiving her philanthropy in June 2021, Tostan has worked carefully to honor this incredible gift as an opportunity to expand community well-being. The one-time gift Tostan received was $20m, a substantial amount, equal to 1.6 years of the organization’s total annual operating budget.
There could not have been a better moment for Tostan to receive this unprecedented gift – while celebrating 30 years as an organization and beginning to imagine our next strategic period and where we can have the most impact by 2030. We were very fortunate to have focused in recent years on a deeper understanding of how we can contribute to the scale of community well-being. We were equally fortunate to have already made major advances in building the operational systems that are needed to maintain increased scale.
We shaped a vision of building upon Tostan’s existing systems and structures to use these funds in highly catalytic ways. Given the wide range of compelling needs we see every day in our work, we saw quickly that rapid spending was a tempting but incomplete solution. This meant looking to meet urgent needs and lay a sustainable foundation for the future, so that our work might become even more effective and support community well-being for as many communities as possible.
Investing in innovation
We are applying an approach that invests across the organization and balances urgent needs and long-term sustainability. We will be investing in our community programs including $2.5m for current strategic priorities through 2023 and $4m towards our next strategy through 2030, and .5m for program innovations. We are investing in our organization and teams, including roughly $1m towards our staff well-being agenda and $2m towards our Resilience reserve fund.
We are especially excited to be investing in a new $10m Innovation Fund – Tey ak Suba, which will support leadership and education in Africa and provide the organization with flexible support to innovate for community well-being for years to come. Tostan looks forward to launching the fund later this year.
Collaborating to share the impact of trusting philanthropy
Since we received this gift, Tostan has been in proactive contact with dozens of co-recipients of MacKenzie Scott’s philanthropy. We are finding wonderful new partners, allies, and potential collaborators. We are also excited to be a part of a learning community that has emerged from within a group of MacKenzie Scott grantees with an international focus. Together with these kindred organizations we are exploring how we can better understand the impacts of this kind of transformative giving on our work, how we can work from best practices in seeking to rapidly grow impact, and better advocate for this approach to spread much further.
Deep gratitude and excitement for a collaborative future
This gift and Tostan’s broader progress in recent years would never have come about without the collective efforts of everyone across the Tostan community – from community partners to our incredible and dedicated staff to our many supporters and partners we have had for many years. It is exciting to think of our collective efforts in the coming strategic period, with Tostan now even better positioned to support community well-being.
Elena Bonometti, CEO
Kadji Diop, CFOO