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When we look at the state
of the world today, we see a mixed picture. Rapid innovation in
an increasingly connected society is transforming the way we work,
play, and live. But we also see global economic woes, civic unrest,
and political stalemates. As a result, social issues that challenge
communities are becoming more urgent and interconnected.
Meanwhile, those of us
charged with finding or funding solutions to chronic social challenges—philanthropy,
government, nonprofits—seem to be moving too slowly and are
often operating with the same set of tools, concepts, and cautions
of the generations before us. If we're going to keep up with
the rapid pace of change and the daunting volume and complexities
of these challenges, we must rethink traditional models. The old
way of doing things is simply no longer effective in this new world.
It's time for us to be bold, act with urgency, and resist
the tendency to let caution be our guide. It's time for us
to Be Fearless.
Does It Mean to 'Be Fearless'?
The Case Foundation turns
15 this year, and as we approach that milestone we've been
taking a hard look at our own evolution and the world around us.
Looking back over the years, we found that we were most successful
when we were fearless—when we explored and experimented—and
the least successful when fear or caution somehow became a dominant
driver of decision-making. But what exactly does it mean to Be Fearless?
To us, being fearless
means setting audacious goals, acting urgently and boldly, being
unafraid of risk, being willing to strike unlikely alliances, and
accepting the possibility of failure while still pressing forward.
We also define being fearless by what it's not: it's
not reckless abandon, foolhardiness or arrogance, or presuming we
have all the answers.
Earlier this year, we
made a commitment to Be Fearless in all that we do at the Case Foundation—but
we knew that we couldn't go it alone, or without exploring
what this concept of being fearless truly means. We began with some
basic assumptions, based on our work with our partners and looking
at the landscape of some of the most effective social movements
and philanthropic achievements of our time. We then asked Cynthia
Gibson and Brad Rourke to test those assumptions, to scour the landscape
and explore the characteristics of fearlessness so they could be
discussed, debated and put into practice.
As a result we have identified
five principles that go hand-in-hand with our definition of being
fearless. It's important to note that these principles aren't
"rules," but rather, a set of indicators we've
found to be at play when operating with a fearless mindset. They
don't always operate in tandem or sequentially, and one is
not more important than another. We think of them as a set of markers
that can help identify when decisions are being made fearlessly.
Together, we believe they form a powerful way of thinking about
effective philanthropy and change-making—one that we think
will be important in meeting the challenges that confront us.
It is our hope that this
effort will spark a dialogue about how other institutions, philanthropic
investors, and individuals trying to drive social change view fearlessness;
whether and how they're applying that concept to their work;
and what they have learned in the process.
We're putting forward
these principles in the hope that others can benefit from them.
And we're not just talking about them; we're incorporating
these principles into everything we do at every level of our organization.
We believe that doing so will only increase our ability to be innovative
and effective social investors. We look forward to being part of
a conversation about what it means for our community to Be Fearless.
We invite you to join us.
Jean Case, CEO, the Case
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