by SF Team, 19 July 2022
Seventeen years ago, we started an experiment to reimagine philanthropy by applying the philosophy of open source software to our funding model. We hypothesized that by building real partnerships with our Fellows and sharing our collective knowledge, it would create greater social value, allow open to flourish in realms outside of software, and lay the groundwork for real systemic change.
We explored a variety of different methods, continuously iterating and tweaking our model to unlock a better, more effective way of giving. Our preference to measure progress rather than demand results has borne fruit: the community has blossomed to 56 Fellows and each individual has made significant contributions to the world, their respective fields, and the open movement. But all experiments must have an end. Sadly, it is time for us to begin writing our conclusions.
The Shuttleworth Foundation is closing its doors by the beginning of 2024.
The current cohort of Fellows will be our last. Our focus remains firmly on them, along with our Alumni, and we will continue to support them and honour their funding until the end of 2023.
We want to say thank you to all our Fellows who have helped us learn so much by doing. We look forward to learning more over the next 18 months, and will spend that time continuing to make the case for applying open in new areas. We have been humbled by the opportunity to support this incredible community and it has been a huge privilege to think through their ideas and challenges as they figure out how to change the world. Collectively, they have had an extraordinary impact on many people’s lives.
As we reflect on the last twenty years, one thing is clear: there will always be a use, a need, a responsibility, for resources to flow from those who have more than enough to those in short supply. This process - from who, to who, for what, and how - should continue to evolve to reflect the society we want, collectively.
The rationale for open funding - supporting Fellows where they are in the world to advance their causes - means the community is not reliant upon us. The Fellowship has always been about identifying individuals, but also bringing those individuals together to learn and share experiences, and seed those learnings and experiences to positive effect through other communities.
We want the same things for our community that we have always wanted from day one of the Fellowship: for them to continue to iterate, learn and make forward progression in their lives and ideals. To our Fellows - our only ask is to go and be excellent in the world.