Paul Brest didn’t place of residing out to remodel philanthropy. A constitutional law student who clerked for Supreme Court docket Justice John Harlan and is credited with coining the length of time “originalism,” Brest spent twelve years as dean of Stanford Guidelines College.
Nevertheless when he become named president of the William & Plant life Hewlett Foundation, one of the most country’s estimable non-revenue funders, Brest utilized the rigor of an excellent student not apt to his accumulate institution’s practices nonetheless to these of the philanthropy field at mountainous. He employed experts to note the notice of philanthropy and helped to start Stanford’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, the place he silent teaches.
Now, Brest has turned his consideration to advising Silicon Valley’s next period of donors.
From Stanford to the Hewlett Foundation
Scott Bade: Your background is in constitutional law. How did you obtain the shift from being dean at Stanford to running the Hewlett Foundation as president?
Paul Brest: I came into the Hewlett Foundation largely accidentally. I in actuality didn’t know anything about philanthropy, nonetheless I had been instructing classes on relate-solving and resolution making. I focus on I purchased the job on yarn of a lot of folks on the board knew me, both from Stanford Guidelines College, nonetheless additionally from playing chamber music with Walter and Esther Hewlett.
Bade: When become this?
Brest: I started there in 2000. Invoice Hewlett died the yr after I came. Walter Hewlett, Invoice’s son, become chair of the board all the device by device of your entire time I become president. Nevertheless it completely’s not a family basis.
Bade: What had been your initial impressions of the root and the broader philanthropic place of residing?
Brest: No longer having attain from the non-revenue sector, it took me a yr or so that you just can in actuality realize what it [meant] to utilize our property in every dwelling in a strategic formula. The [Hewlett] Foundation had very appropriate values when it involves the areas it become supporting — the atmosphere, training, inhabitants, ladies’s reproductive rights. It had appropriate philanthropic practices, nonetheless it completely become not very strategically centered. It turned out that not very many foundations had been strategic.
Paul’s framework for excited about philanthropy
Bade: What enact you imply by ‘strategic’?
Brest: What I imply [by] strategic is having fantastic dreams and having an explanation-basically basically based, evidence-educated strategy for reaching them. Wide foundations are inclined to be conglomerates with a quantity of programs looking out to invent a quantity of dreams.
[Being strategic means] monitoring development as you’re employed in direction of these dreams. Then evaluating upfront whether or not the strategy is going to be plausible and then whether or not you’re undoubtedly reaching the outcomes you’re looking out to invent so as that it’s possible you’ll perhaps well additionally obtain direction corrections if you’re not reaching.
[For example,] the probability that the roughly billionaire bucks or more that had been spent or dedicated to climate advocacy are going to enjoy any attain is comparatively low. The place of residing the place metrics is available in is apt having more or much less an expected return mindset the place fantastic, the chances of success are low, nonetheless we know that the importance of success — or striking it in any other case, the effects of failure — are going to be catastrophic.
What a strategic mindset does here is jabber: it’s worth taking gigantic bets even the place the margins of error of the probability of success are very onerous to measure when the outcomes are gigantic.
I don’t want to scream the [Hewlett] Foundation become anti-strategic, or fully unstrategic, nonetheless it completely in actuality had not developed a [this kind of] systematic framework for doing these items.
Bade: You’re acknowledged within the philanthropic neighborhood for striking an emphasis on defining, reaching, measuring impact. Have these form of technocratic practices made philanthropy better?
Brest: I focus on it’s possible you’ll perhaps well additionally enjoy got to start by asking, what would it not imply for philanthropy to be appropriate? From my point of leer, philanthropy is appropriate when I admire the dreams it chooses. Then, given a appropriate aim, when it’s wonderful in reaching that aim. Technique in actuality has nothing to scream about what the dreams are, nonetheless handiest how wonderful it’s.
My guess is that ninety plus p.c of philanthropy is meant to invent dreams that nearly all of us focus on are appropriate dreams. There are cases as soon because it’s possible you’ll perhaps well additionally enjoy got say conflicts of dreams as you enact with jabber the anti-abortion and the necessity movements, or gun administration and the NRA. These are vital arguments.
Nevertheless most philanthropy is making an are trying to spice up training or make stronger the lives of the uncomfortable. My leer is that philanthropy is appropriate when it’s wonderful in reaching these dreams, and looking out to enact no effort within the technique.