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The risk of any moonshot endeavour? Failure. Without the tangible possibility of failure, and without embracing the risk of testing unconventional out of the box ideas, we would never be able to shift the paradigm on the complex issues we each seek out to resolve.

This is the superpower of philanthropists – the ability to take on the reputational and financial risks that institutions such as governments and corporates cannot. Why? Because institutions are agents of the ultimate capital providers, respectively taxpayers and shareholders, often proscribing their ability or willingness to make high risk bets. Whereas philanthropist capital owners have the freedom and ability to accept the consequences of setbacks and failure, learn from mistakes, improve on their theory of change, improve domain expertise and try again.

The superpower of philanthropists is the ability to take on the financial risks that institutions cannot.

Philanthropists have the personal capital to embark on paradigm shifting high impact journeys by funding high risk, moonshot ideas. They can choose to embrace a risk-taking mindset and to learn from setback and failure.  And persevere in order to build the domain expertise that improves the odds of a successful outcome.

It is through financing entrepreneurial, out of the box ideas that catalytic social investors can patiently build their domain expertise – learning what works and more importantly, what does not. And it is through this process that moonshot philanthropists can strive to privatise failures and socialise their successes.

It is time that a moonshot approach becomes the mainstream route to creating change through philanthropic means. The time for just writing cheques is over. The time for the high net worth community to step up and invest in the ideas that will deliver world-defining change, is here.

Privatising failure, socialising success