Foundations’ decision-making

In recent years, private foundations have gained considerable relevance in global health due to their increasing presence in both financing and policy-making. Despite this, the question of how these actors make decisions on their funding priorities is under researched. This is where I decided to focus my doctoral studies at LSHTM in London.

The aim of my study was to understand and assess the relative importance of different factors in foundations’ decision-making. This question is important not only for actors in the global health arena, but for foundations that are under increasing pressure to be legitimate, effective and accountable players.

This is a qualitative research study based on the analysis of decision-making processes – strategy-making and grant-making. It applies a multiple case study methodology in the study of three foundations: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. It uses in-depth interviews is the main method of data collection and a strategic management angle to explore findings.

Findings suggest influence is an overt objective of foundations’ strategies. Leaders and networks are also extremely important in both strategic planning and grant-making. The analysis also introduces a re-conceptualization of foundations’ decision-making and offers implications on the role of philanthropy in global health.

You can find the entire study (downloadable!) here.