A conversation with PATH on September 21, 2011

Note: This set of notes gives an overview of the major points made by PATH during a visit by Good Ventures and GiveWell staff to PATH's Seattle headquarters on September 21, 2011 to learn about its activities and funding needs.

What sets PATH apart

Some of PATH's biggest success stories

PATH's Projects

PATH provided summary information on all its projects: a Board of Directors report on its largest 30, and a summary list of its other projects. Its largest projects:

Use of small unrestricted donations

PATH can share a summary breakdown of how unrestricted funds have been spent.

The PATH fund is used to fund smaller-scale requests from within PATH that can lead to larger projects. This fund is estimated to have $250-600k of room for more funding. Examples were provided to GiveWell:

Another use of unrestricted funds is to meet matching requirements on larger grants.

PATH can share information on past projects that it would have funded if it had the funds, or future projects that it would like to fund if it gets the funds.

PATH's Funders

PATH's biggest funders are the Gates Foundation (~57%) and USAID (~27%). Much of the Gates Foundation money passes through to partners. 

Use of large-scale unrestricted funding

On room for more large-scale unrestricted funding: the Reach campaign is PATH's effort to raise $50 million for PATH-driven (as opposed to donor-driven) initiatives. The Gates Foundation has put up $15 million in matching funds.

PATH will soon be providing a set of (paragraph-length) ideas for PATH-driven projects.

Two projects that are representative of the sort of project PATH would like to carry out are the MACEPA project and the recently announced partnership with BHP Billiton. The MACEPA project is a field project where PATH has a broad mandate to fight malaria; the BHP Billiton project is a field project where PATH has a broad mandate to improve the health and development of very young children.

One of the benefits of field projects (like the MACEPA project and the partnership with BHP Billiton) is that they serve as a kind of laboratory for PATH to take lessons from the field and apply them to its work in developing and adapting technology. Asked for examples of this, PATH discussed the following:

 Other possibilities for large-scale funding:

PATH believes that the behavior change programs it focuses on, such as interpersonal communication, community theater and mass media outreach, are key interventions that are essential to uptake in many health programs, e.g. HIV/AIDS control, TB control, vaccine delivery, etc.  PATH recognizes the challenges of evaluating the long-term impact of BCC, and continues to seek methodologies that demonstrate direct impact of these approaches. PATH and GiveWell should continue a discussion of this challenging area.   We agreed to follow up on this offline.

PATH has an organizational commitment to monitoring and evaluation. Its work in this area is still relatively young and it hasn't yet reached the point where M&E reports are a primary tool for assessing the success or failure of a project. PATH has a strong M&E emphasis at the project level.  PATH is two years into an effort to measure its organizational impact across programs and projects.