The Yale Philanthropy Conference (February 13, 2015) sits at a unique crossroads of business and philanthropy, where best practices from one sector are integrated with the other. At the 2015 conference, the Increasing Impact Through Collaboration panel will discuss the theoretical and practical importance of coordination for impact. Here Heather Grady writes about collaboration not only across organizations, but also countries.
I recently returned from a workshop in Kenya attended by leaders from philanthropy, NGOs, the government, United Nations and business. Together we launched a pathway for Kenya to be a global model for high-impact collaboration between different sectors supporting sustainable development and poverty reduction.
This workshop was Kenya’s pilot-country launch of the Post-2015 Partnership Platform for Philanthropy – a collaboration between foundations that make international grants, the UN Development Program (UNDP), the Foundation Center and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA). At RPA, our goal is to enable philanthropy to engage more effectively in global development goal processes, and help the UN and governments understand the added value of philanthropic engagement. Over the coming two and a half years, in at least five pilot countries (including Colombia, Indonesia and Ghana), we aim to catalyze meaningful collaboration on themes of greatest mutual interest.
In Kenya we focused on financial inclusion and youth employment, education, and women’s rights and empowerment. Dozens of donors and foundations support discrete projects in these areas in Kenya, but there is precious little coordination within each sector, so opportunities for reaching scale and deeper impact are missed.
While we relied on those in Kenya to understand the local context, RPA was recognized for bringing new approaches to philanthropic collaboration. With so much to be done to tackle the challenges of poverty, poor education and discrimination, there is a role for everyone, as well as an imperative to communicate and exchange amongst organizations far more effectively.
The Platform arose out of the realization by some senior US foundation leaders that opportunities were being missed because international grantmakers did not engage much in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Many of us critiqued the MDG framework for a range of reasons, not least an insufficient focus on governance and human rights; the use of relative rather than absolute targets for the goals; and a North-South/giver-recipient structure that doesn’t match the reality of today’s world.
The Post-2015 Agenda and the successor goals – the Sustainable Development Goals – provide a much more compelling approach. They are broader and they incorporate, at least in the current draft, goals on crucial contemporary issues like climate change, sustainable cities, and peace and conflict.
Moreover, the SDGs are universal – so the US will have to report on them just as Cambodia or Kenya must. In fact, some of us believe that US-based foundations can take a leadership role in supporting measurement of the goals within countries, for example reducing inequalities in education and maternal mortality between different regions of the US. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently released his synthesis report on the Post-2015 Agenda, which many appreciate for its boldness and high aspirations.
Globally, the Post-2015 Partnership Platform for Philanthropy is attracting a lot of interest. At the four events where we have promoted it since September 2014, participants were eager to join: the Ford Foundation global Platform launch in New York, the pilot-country Platform launch in Kenya, the Philanthropy in Asia Summit in Singapore and the Brazil Philanthropy Forum. Also, the Platform’s web portal SDGfunders.org, launching soon, is steadily attracting members.
We’ll gauge true support through commitments in at least one of three ways: financing the Platform’s activities, contributing to collaborative development activities with other philanthropic actors at the national or global level, and/or reporting on foundation activities using the MDG/SDG framework. The Conrad N. Hilton, Ford and MasterCard Foundations are our three founding supporters, though we aim to crowd in much more of the philanthropic community throughout the life of the initiative.
We want to generate a movement, not a sideshow. If it succeeds, this Platform could be the catalyst for a very different way for the philanthropic sector to start tackling the world’s greatest challenges and risks.