Building the Foundations. Role of Philantropy


To support the building of foundations for change, the most effective things philanthropy can do is take up roles that enable collaboration and fund the costs of collaboration. Building Collaboration from the Inside Out <> is a great read on how to do this.

Supporting collaboration can take a variety of forms, such as:

  • funding the backbone functions and/or entity;
  • supporting capacity building for network participants or the network as a whole;
  • covering the costs of evaluation;
  • supporting conventions, research, or other costs. 

In addition, unrestricted funding allows organizations the flexibility to adapt their systems change initiative to changing circumstances. 1

Some examples of the things you can do at this phase are:

  • Convene safe spaces where residents can come together to express their anger and frustrations and then pivot to articulate their shared aspirations for moving forward; 
  • Launch achievable efforts to demonstrate wins that serve as down payments on a new way to do business. Avoid the most intractable problems where progress is hard to produce; 
  • Expand existing efforts where adequate readiness, support and capacities exist. Deliberately build on what works; 
  • Identify and develop leaders and organisations with credibility and trust to lead engagement and action—ongoing support of the promising ones is essential; 
  • Support the publicizing of community wins without hyping success—authenticity is essential 2

With your support, the following progress is possible

  • Strong agreement in the larger community on what’s wrong and on shared aspirations and concerns for moving forward; 
  • Signs of progress emerge—but may be slow to launch and get traction. Expect some false starts and others to stall out; 
  • Identifiable cadre of leaders and organizations stepping forward to lead change. Some will not succeed in this new tough environment while others will gain confidence and momentum 3

Questions for you to consider in funding the costs of collaboration:

  • How are we covering the time and expenses this collaboration requires?
  • Are we giving appropriate resources and attention to evaluation for this initiative?
  • What are we doing to ensure the long-term sustainability of this initiative?
  • Does this initiative have the flexibility it needs to adapt to changing circumstances? 4 

The key insight is for you to build the capacity and infrastructure for those impacted by the issue and diverse stakeholders to work together, in addition to building the capacity of individual organizations. 5



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