Navigating Game-Changing Grants

A Playbook for Nonprofit Leaders

About the Playbook

In 2022 and 2023, Panorama Global’s initiative brought together nonprofit leaders to learn and reflect on their experiences managing a large and unexpected philanthropic gift from MacKenzie Scott. Through this initiative, Panorama has engaged leaders of more than 100 nonprofit organizations to learn from each other and how they are navigating and managing this unexpected gift.

Navigating Game-Changing Grants: A Playbook for Nonprofits Leaders is a tool for nonprofit leaders, boards, and staff to gain insights and lessons learned from others who have navigated the journey of receiving a large, unrestricted gift. These gifts are often unanticipated, and nonprofit leaders are presented with a cascade of decisions that compel new ways of thinking and approaching organizational management, people and culture, programming, scale, and donor engagement.

The information in this playbook was developed based on insights in peer learning communities, virtual learning, interviews, collaboration sessions, and surveys. This playbook considers the diversity among organizations in their operations and strategic plans and intends to be a helpful thought partner for nonprofits navigating a windfall gift. The playbook is designed to meet organizations where they are on their journey and acts as a reference point, not a prescribed “how-to” guide outlining specific steps or actions.

The unrestricted nature and scale of MacKenzie Scott’s giving challenges and influences traditional modes of philanthropy and how nonprofits can operate in an exciting way. This playbook is based on the real-time information and lived experiences of nonprofit leaders managing a large unrestricted gift.


We are profoundly grateful to all the incredible nonprofit leaders and organizations that have shared what they have learned, so others won’t need to start from scratch when they get the good news of a windfall gift. Your invaluable insights have contributed immensely to the development of this playbook.

How to Use the Playbook

The playbook features seven thematic areas that arise when an organization receives a large and unexpected gift.

While the thematic areas are featured separately, the interdependent and intersectional nature of these issues surfaces throughout.

  • Stakeholder Communications
  • Donor Engagement
  • Financial Management and Sustainability
  • Operational Infrastructure
  • People and Culture
  • Change Management
  • Planning for Scale

Each thematic area includes “recommendations” that you can learn from, adapt, and apply to your organization. Each recommendation includes lessons learned and varying examples of lived experiences—how diverse organizations uniquely navigated that area depending on their needs and context.

These recommendations are a starting point for adaptation, iteration, and design to maximize an organization’s windfall gift.