08/11/2016 11:32 am ET | Updated Aug 11, 2016

$100M Solution to Change the World: The Impact Genome Project

We don't have a resource problem in America; we have a resource allocation problem.  Money alone is not sufficient to solve social problems.  We need more than charity; we need evidence about what works.  Today we are asking America's leading families to do more than commit to giving away their money, we're asking America's philanthropists to commit to an Impact Pledge.  By sponsoring the Impact Genome Project, we can crack the code on social science and enable every policymaker, practitioner and donor to create twice the impact for half the cost. 

The Problem

In the U.S. today, we invest over $6T/year in solutions to social problems.  We fund thousands of social programs and charities, but we don't know which interventions work the best.  We're spending billions on evaluation, but we're not systematically learning why some programs work and others don't.

According to William Riley, Director, National Institutes of Health:

"An extensive literature has established the effectiveness of various behavioral interventions for a range of conditions but this literature often fails to isolate the intervention components that are more or less effective. Intervention development largely remains a black box. The selection of predominately a process of educated guesses."

Every other sector of the economy has predictive data: investors have Bloomberg or Factset; lenders have Experian or Equifax; lawyers have Westlaw or Lexis-Nexis. What do we have for policymakers and philanthropists - Google?  It's time we build better tools to professionalize the world of social change.

The Solution

The Impact Genome Project® (IGP) is one of the most ambitious endeavors in the history of social science.  The IGP will catalog hundreds of thousands of published and unpublished research studies and evaluations and code the "genes" that drive positive outcomes.  Using the Genome, we can develop predictive models and tools that can radically improve the return on investment in social change, saving millions of lives and impacting billions of people.

The IGP comprises over forty genomes, from youth development to criminal justice to arts & culture. The price tag for the Impact Genome Project is $50M with an additional $50M to build the capacity of 5,000 charities to use evidence to improve their results.

The U.S. government invested $3.8 billion to map the human genome and gave rise to an industry that now generates about $67 billion in annual economic activity.  Imagine what we could do for the world if we fully realize the Impact Genome?