The McKinsey Report "And the winner is..."

The McKinsey & Company Report. “And the winner is…” Capturing the Promise of Philanthropic Prizes was released March 3, 2009. The Report concluded that incentive prizes are a unique and powerful tool that should be in the basic toolkit of many of today’s philanthropists. The recent renaissance of prizes is largely due to a new appreciation for the multiple ways in which they can produce change: not only by identifying new levels of excellence and by encouraging specific innovations, but also by changing wider perceptions, improving the performance of communities of problem-solvers, building the skills of individuals, and mobilizing new talent or capital.



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Here are notable excerpts from the document

“Leading philanthropists should consider how they can best use prizes as part of their philanthropic portfolio, and should accept the challenge of finding innovative ways to harness the potential of this powerful instrument.”

“Well designed prizes carry a strong element of theater that makes them newsworthy and media friendly. This messaging and brand-building potential is attractive to corporations looking to burnish their image or wealthy donors seeking to signal their arrival.”

“Prizes attract diverse groups of experts, practitioners, and laypeople—regardless of formal credentials—to attempt to solve difficult problems, dramatically expanding the pool of potential solvers and lower the cost of attempting or recognizing solutions.”

“Prizes highlight and elevate superlative behaviors, ideas, and achievements in order to motivate, guide, and inspire others. Identifying excellence remains the cornerstone of many prizes—the essence of their power to produce change.”

“A core power of prizes derives from their openness: their ability to attract diverse talent, generate unexpected approaches, and reveal unusual perspectives in the face of a problem or challenge.”

“Prizes can provide valuable leverage for a sponsor’s investment by mobilizing further financial or intellectual capital in support of a solution.”

“One of prizes’ great strengths is their ability to attract investments from competitors many times greater than the cost of delivering and awarding a prize.”

“Prizes should be in the basic toolkit of today’s philanthropists, and that these philanthropists should approach them strategically, with a learning mindset, and a focus on effective implementation.”

“Every leading philanthropist should consider the opportunity to use prizes to help achieve their mission, and to accept the challenge of fully exploiting this powerful tool.”

“Today, more than 300 people have signed up for $200,000 (total=$60M) trips aboard SpaceShipTwo, the commercial successor to the winning entrant of the Ansari X PRIZE for Suborbital Flight” “Virgin Galactic unveils model of SpaceShipTwo,” New Scientist, January 23, 2008.

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