Up to the Challenge

Fenton and Common Pool Announce New Partnership Focused on Prizes and Competitions for Foundations, Government and Corporate Social Change Clients

It’s an old adage – when faced with a problem, you can choose to see the situation as half-full or half empty. Fenton is in the business of helping our clients find solutions, creating campaigns and strategies to bring communities closer to better health, equity and dignity worldwide. We choose half-full, and we are inspired by boldness and creative problem-solving.

One of the most exciting shifts in recent years in philanthropy, government and the private sector is the proliferation of grand challenges, prizes and competitions to spur innovation and drive solutions. Programs like The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change initiative, which will give $100 million to one social problem later this year, and MIT’s Inclusive Innovation Challenge, which awards $1 million to organizations creating inclusion in the digital economy, are offering new approaches, providing greater transparency and breaking down barriers in these sectors.

Common Pool logo

That’s why Fenton is so excited to announce a new partnership with Common Pool, the engineering incentive agency organizing prizes, challenge competitions and other forms of incentive-based programs worldwide. If there is a creative, bold challenge or competition out there, chances are that Common Pool is the organization behind it, providing both the process and the technology to power these exciting initiatives.

Fenton has already seen this work in action, partnering with Common Pool and Johnson & Johnson on the GenH Challenge, a social venture competition to find and fund the next great idea to change the trajectory of health. With marketing and messaging from Fenton and development, management and execution by Common Pool, the GenH Challenge is the first of its kind to primarily focus on health innovators based in the developing world. Fenton and Common Pool collaborated with J&J to design the GenH Challenge to disrupt the perception of who an innovator is by seeking out partners, stakeholders and applicants who are every day innovators delivering care in low-resource settings, against all odds.

Like previous projects mentioned above, these are the kind of big bets that are made possible by using incentive programs: challenges inherently call on innovators, researchers and program specific audiences to be bold with their idea and know that funder on the other side is ready to take the leap of investment.

To help these kinds of initiatives to market, Fenton and Common Pool are combining our strengths as problem solvers. Fenton will offer services like messaging, earned media, video and digital support, while Common Pool will offer program design, goal-setting, judging and scoring rubrics, back end technology and the experience of having managed many of the world’s most unique prizes and competitions.

Common Pool and Fenton will partner on proposals, strategy and design, and can be engaged together as one team to help your organization or agency develop a bold approach to problem solving. By utilizing programs like challenges, prizes or competitions, program sponsors are able to create a mechanism that demands new approaches and big ideas to tackle real problems. Through incentive programs, the mold of philanthropy, corporate social good and even government civic engagement pivots to be about partnering on an idea directly. Combining the digital, communications and organizing strengths of Fenton with the data, mechanisms and ingenuity of Common Pool, this partnership will spark new ways to bring innovation into philanthropy and progressive movements.

Common Pool’s deep experience changing the status quo in philanthropy, government and business has brought them to work with a wide range of partners, from the Open Government Partnership to the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation to the Carnegie Corporation and the exciting Chicago-based Food to Market Challenge. Similar to Fenton, Common Pool is unique in their commitment to get close, dive in and design programs highly customized to their client’s needs. Rather than constraining program design by the limits of a specific product, Common Pool brings a diverse network of tools and organizations to the table to ensure the best possible program design, a network Fenton is proud to join.

Later this year, Johnson and Johnson will choose from hundreds of applicants to fund the next great idea to change the trajectory of health. The MacArthur Foundation will choose from thousands to provide $100 million to solve a major social problem. And MIT will select its next cohort of organizations using technology to re-invent work for people below the top rung of the economic ladder.

This is the kind of bold action we’re energized by, and excited to partner with Common Pool to support.

Contact us to learn more about how your organization can tackle a problem by launching a competition, prize or challenge.