About Doug Griffiths
Doug joined Oak Foundation in January 2019. In his role as President, he is thrilled to knit together his professional experiences advocating for human rights, humanitarian relief, social development and environmental protection.
Doug was a career diplomat, he held various roles including that of US Ambassador to Mozambique. He holds a master’s degree in public policy from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Notre Dame.
Doug has lived in Canada, Ecuador, France, Germany, Haiti, Mozambique, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and the United States.
President of the Oak Foundation, Doug Griffiths, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss the Foundation’s $300m annual grant-making + their collegial approach to partnerships + fostering transformative change
The Foundation focuses on global, social and environmental concerns, particularly in helping the most disadvantaged. In 2019, the Oak Foundation made 377 grants, to 342 organisations in 37 countries, totalling around $300m.
The Foundation backs a wide range of initiatives focused on the environment, housing and homelessness, international human rights, issues affecting women, learning differences, preventing child sexual abuse; and special interest areas such as health, humanitarian relief, education and the arts. They also have four national programmes in Brazil, Denmark, India and Zimbabwe.
Doug sheds light on the Foundation’s main programme areas and provides insight on their transformative work on the environment and climate justice – aiming to strengthen the ecosystem of climate funding.
We hear of the Climate Leadership Initiative hosted by Climate Works, for instance, where the focus is on helping individual philanthropists identify where they can enter the climate space. For many donors it can be very challenging to ascertain exactly where and how they can get involved in this space – it can be daunting since it’s a very technical and scientific field.
The next campaign they’re very excited about is around food. Creating a big tent to bring a wide range of voices and stakeholders together, from those concerned with food production and land use to local sourcing and plant-based solutions. There’s a lot of engagement but there hasn’t been a lot of movement on the food side of things. By helping to fund this platform they want to bring people to the conversation, letting them know there are others interested in this space and letting them know there are many examples showing how people can get involved.
Doug talks about how they go about their grant-making and the work they do with different platforms, collaboratives, intermediaries and grantees. They place much effort to ensure their processes are streamlined and not bogged down by red tape.
Doug provides two key takeaways: (1) [for those in the foundation and philanthropy space] he hopes we all continue to explore our aspirations to be good grant-makers and that we, to the extent possible, trust grantee organisations and are as unburdensome as possible. (2) Doug also notes that we are in desperate need globally of kindness and empathy, so we should take care of each other. Be kind to your family, your colleagues, your staff and, yes, even your boss.
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