Partners for a New Economy is formally constituted between Oak, MAVA, Marisla and KR Foundations. Lynda Mansson of MAVA Foundation is elected as the first President of the P4NE Board, with Leslie Harroun leaving her position at Oak’s Environment Programme to take up the role of Director. P4NE chooses Swiss Philanthropy Foundation to host the fund.
6 grants totalling USD 2.7M
Our grant-making begins – deliberately experimental – testing and learning where the energy is and what works. The first grants are to CEP & IIPP for work on central banks and sustainability (following on from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s ‘Tragedy on the Horizon’ speech in late 2015), to Bristol Pound for work on scaling local currency, and to 50/50 Climate (later renamed Majority Action) for campaigns to build investor pressure on environmental risk.
6 grants totalling USD 3M
As well as deepening the portfolio on changes to money and banking, we make grants to advance and research alternative ownership models, to Purpose for work on steward ownership and The Democracy Collaborative on employee ownership. A group of 8 major central banks form the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS).
15 grants totalling USD 4.6M
Research modelling the falling cost of renewable energy relative to fossil fuels (from an early grant to the Institute for New Economic Thinking at Oxford University) informs the G20 summit. Our first grantee convening is held in the Azores. We make a series of grants (including Future Fit Foundation and American Sustainable Business Network) on the theme of how business can shift the economic system, and with a grant to the Network for Pluralist Economics, P4NE starts funding student groups working to change the economics curriculum.
13 grants totalling USD 4.1M
Our staff team grows as Leslie is joined by Anna Luiza Behrens, a Brazilian economist with a background in international development. Our grants are now arranged under three portfolios: Money & Banking (14 grants to date), Enterprise (8 grants to date) and New Economic Thinking (18 grants to date – including 5 on policy, 3 on curriculum change, 3 on media narrative and 2 to scope and help launch the Economic Change Unit, a UK hub for new economy work).
14 grants totalling USD 3.3M
Ford Foundation and Laudes Foundation join us, expanding our pool of funders to six. Jo Swinson succeeds Leslie Harroun as Director, and Astrid Kann-Rasmussen is elected to chair the P4NE Board. Among this year’s grants is ZOE Institut, who help translate concepts like doughnut economics and beyond GDP into European policymaking. Finland joins Scotland, New Zealand, Iceland and Wales in the Wellbeing Economy Governments initiative.
18 grants totalling USD 5.3M
Our strategic refresh results in a shift in geographical scope to focus on the European parts of the portfolio and away from the US (where there is already substantial funding available), and a greater focus on power-building alongside supporting emerging economic ideas. Fiona Mallin Robinson joins the staff team as Assistant to the Director. Demos Helsinki publish a report on the new economic landscape in Europe, finding increasing energy for new thinking, but a field too fragmented and uneven between countries. As the NGFS reaches 100 members and the Bank of England changes its mandate to include sustainability, we make third grants to CEP, IIPP and Positive Money to help move central bank thinking beyond climate to include biodiversity and wider environmental risks.
19 grants totalling 4.9M
Omidyar Network joins Partners for a New Economy. MAVA Foundation sunsets and so exits the collaboration. Kelly Clark is elected to chair the P4NE Board. Cassie Robinson and Sophie McKechnie join to lead our work on Field-Building and Communications, bringing the staff team to 3.3 FTE. More than 90 people attend the P4NE Gathering in Cambridge, UK for grantees, funders, and other actors in the new economy field. Our funding on changing economics in academia expands to include the role of the law, through Law & Political Economy Europe. As Germany enters the post-Merkel era we expand our portfolio by funding the network Economists for Future and supporting campaign infrastructure through Movement Hub. We make our first grant looking at how a Care Economy could solve both social and environmental problems.
Building Partners for a New Economy was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever done. Our charge was ambitious: transform our economy to ensure a healthy, livable planet. You’ll understand if I felt some trepidation the first time I sat down at my new computer in Gland and, just out of curiosity, typed in “economic system change” and nothing came up.
Fortunately, we were not the only ones in the universe to suspect that our economic ideas and practices needed an overhaul. In fact, the more we dug around beneath economic terra firma, the more sprouts of creativity and brilliance we uncovered. It wasn’t too long before we saw the shape of a powerful ecosystem emerging. Our next step was to bring everyone together to cultivate that ecosystem. Our pivotal meeting on São Miguel Island in the Azores sparked strong connections and a budding movement; it will forever live on through our shared systems mapping, evenings strategizing in the hot springs, a walking meditation through the lush garden, infamous travel snafus, and Nick’s beautiful poem.
Fast forward five years to the generative gathering at Jesus College in Cambridge, and it’s clear that our small community has grown both in size and sophistication. I’m so proud of where we’ve been and of where we’re headed. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to create P4NE’s early container, to nurture its innovative ideas and partnerships. And the best news is that I know that we are all just getting started. As Victor Hugo said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
Leslie Harroun, P4NE’s founding director.
It all started with a discussion about taking risks in our philanthropic giving. Oak and MAVA came together to explore ways of working on high-risk, high-impact work. Our feeling was that we had been trying to fix mega problems with nano solutions and we needed to find ways of pushing the envelope. This series of discussions eventually led to the creation of Partners for a New Economy. We were quickly joined by other courageous funders – Marisla and KR Foundations. And later Omidyar. Ford and Laudes as well.
In the beginning, we knew we did not have the answers and set about exploring and learning together. Our aim was to find the bold ideas that needed backing and test different approaches to changing the system. By sharing the risk we were able to identify and back long-shot ventures – some of which paid off and some of which did not – but all of which added to our learning and understanding of the right levers to pull to effect change.
Today P4NE has shaped into an impactful portfolio of focused grant-making. I couldn’t be prouder of the solid reputation built and the difference the granting has made in filling an important niche.
Lynda Mansson, P4NE’s first president of the Board.