For over eight decades, the Stewardship Foundation has been making grants to organizations both global and local to the Puget Sound region. In the Foundation’s words, they view “grantmaking as strategic investing and thoughtful stewardship rather than charitable giving.” Considerations of impact, leverage, empowerment, sustainability, and organizational strength are key factors for board members’ decision-making. And the impact that the Stewardship Foundation and World Vision have made together testifies to the power of that strategic investing.
Though the Foundation has supported World Vision in various programs since the late 1960s, the current round of water, sanitation, and hygiene projects began in 2003. Since then, the Stewardship Foundation has granted $3.9 million to World Vision for water projects in various countries, primarily Mali, Ghana, and Niger. The Foundation’s current president, Cary Paine, is a former World Vision employee who promoted work in the water sector. “I believed then and I believe now that World Vision is one of the premier Christian relief and development organizations in the world, and it offers a strong investment opportunity for us,” Paine says.
These decades of strong partnership are based on accountability and continuing success. The Stewardship Foundation is committed to thorough evaluation of its partners and grantees, and Paine explains, “We spend a lot of time looking at an organization’s leadership and health, its communications and accountability, and its governance and functionality. Once we conclude the organization operates with excellence and efficiency, we look for mutually beneficial relationships.”
In recent years, the Foundation has funded World Vision projects with Sesame Workshop’s WASH UP! program. This work joins together experts in child behavior change from Sesame Workshop and experts in sanitation and hygiene from World Vision to support hygiene behavior change in school-aged kids. “World Vision is willing to recognize and admit when it doesn’t know something, and then develop complementary partnerships with world-renowned organizations,” Paine says, adding that this organizational humility is an attractive quality to the Foundation.
Over the years, the Stewardship Foundation and World Vision partnership has helped millions of people gain sustainable access to clean water. With relationships like these, Paine encourages other foundations to demand excellence but to be realistic. Ultimately, he says, “Be patient, persistent, and diligent in an effort to be part of something that will have lasting impact.”