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The Lake Washington Declaration

MFG Archive

This month’s featured post is a bold declaration of intent for our sector. If you agree with the principles, then sign up today


In June of this year, Markets For Good convened a two-day workshop, bringing together 70 individuals spanning the length and breath of the social sector. Hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, the workshop focused on the development of the data and infrastructure that supports the social sector; click here for our storify roundup post of the workshop.

The event focused on the following question, which also underpins the Markets For Good movement:

How might we collectively build the information infrastructure to provide all actors in the social sector with the insight that they need to inform their decisions?

This question led our workshop participants to draft a set of guiding principles to help civil society better operate and work towards making better, data driven decisions. After much refining, we are proud to announce ‘The Lake Washington Declaration.’ It is our hope that you will give this declaration your support so that together we may work together more effectively, to bring about the change we wish to see in our sector.

Once you have read the declaration, we ask you to email the team at Markets For Good your name and organization to give it your support. (No actual signature required.) You may also sign on behalf of an entire organization, should you have the authority to do so.

We look forward to hearing your comments and questions below, and continuing the conversation across our social media platforms, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. You may view the declaration below, or by clicking on the title for a downloadable PDF.


The Lake Washington Declaration

We imagine a world where the stakeholders of social change have access to the information they need to make great decisions and act upon them.

The Markets for Good community first came together to help build the systems to provide that information.  The work of this community is guided by the following principles:

  • We believe that constituents are at the center of our work, particularly those constituents most directly affected by the problems being addressed.
  • We will be humble, acknowledging that we are dealing with complex and emergent challenges with no perfect solutions.
  • We believe that the work of social change requires collaboration. No organization can achieve their goals on their own.  We will be allies.
  • We will act in the best interest of the sector first, not just in the interests of our respective organizations.
  • We will default towards openness and sharing.
  • We are committed to learning, and sharing what we learn—including failures.
  • We will be promoters of great giving.  We seek bothmore philanthropy and also smarter philanthropy that rewards effective, transparent, and accountable organizations.
  • We recognize that social change organizations require many different types of capital.  We embrace both philanthropic giving and impact investing.
  • We recognize ongoing tensions:

o   There can be a tension between advancing transparency and protecting privacy

o   There can be a tension between inclusive processes and speed of execution

o   There can be a tension between what is measureable and what is not

o   There can be a tension between providing access to information and ensuring sustainable business models

Finally, we commit to an ongoing dialogue that builds upon these principles and further defines these terms.  This, and nothing less, is required of those who presume to act for the good of all.

You may also view and download a PDF version of this document here.