Spotlights Scaling Social Impact

Bill Clinton famously called scaling social impact the challenge of the 21st century. His thinking was that solutions to most of the world’s problems have already been found. The problem is applying them not to hundreds or thousands of people, but to billions. In an age of tech entrepreneurs, policymakers have increasingly asked: how can we reach as many people as the iPhone?

In this research partnership with the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, we’ve examined some examples of scaling up in detail, as well as providing analysis of some themes and common problems. Our case studies, analyses and interviews are published below.

We’ve spoken to too many of the leading thinkers and practitioners in this field to list, including Larry Cooley, the scaling advisor on the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change grant; Karen Levy of Evidence Action and Geoff Mulgan of Nesta, as well as people from the Ford Foundation, the World Bank, Fundacion Capital and the UK’s What Works Centers.

We hope this Spotlight will be useful to researchers and practitioners alike. For more information or to contribute comments or insights to our follow-up work, please email:

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