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Communications Toolkit: IPASA 2023 Funder Collaboration Case Studies

By IPASA



In a world increasingly defined by complex social and environmental challenges, effective collaboration stands out as a crucial strategy for creating sustainable impact. Collaboration enhances the reach of individual efforts, leading to sustainable and scalable change.


In 2023, IPASA embarked on a targeted initiative to support and document collaborative efforts in the South African philanthropy sector. This initiative included six workshops on collaboration organised by IPASA and NASCEE and the development of three comprehensive case studies. The key insights and learnings from these workshops, along with the case studies, have been synthesized to identify nine critical "ingredients" for successful collaboration.


Effective collaboration requires understanding and implementing key principles and practices. IPASA’s collaboration case studies provide invaluable insights into how South African foundations have successfully integrated collaborative efforts into their funding strategies. By sharing these experiences, we aim to foster a deeper understanding of the key ingredients that drive successful partnerships and inspire others to adopt

collaborative approaches.


This toolkit is designed to help you share the valuable insights gained from these case studies, promoting more widely a deeper understanding of effective collaboration in philanthropy.


Nine Key Ingredients for Effective Collaboration


1. Trust: Trust between partners is essential and enables all the other “ingredients” listed below. Often, pre-existing trust between a few specific people can spark a collaboration – but that trust needs to be built throughout organisations, so collaborations are ready to weather turnover and change.


2. Clear Shared Vision, Goals, and Values: With a shared vision, goals, and values, it is easier to draw clear boundaries. It is just as important to clarify what the collaboration is not about as what it is trying to do – and to say no to collaboration when it is a poor fit. Like trust, a shared vision takes time to build.


3. Dedicated Resources for Collaboration: Collaboration has a cost: it requires people’s time, face-to-face and virtual gatherings, administrative capacity, monitoring and evaluation, and ongoing reflection and learning. Funders need to allocate resources specifically to collaboration when supporting joint ventures. This can be done by providing convening and coordinating capacity to a secretariat or project management office that has a mandate from all members to fulfil this function.


4. Timeframes: Long-term thinking and commitment are required to see significant and sustainable change. Funders need to think beyond two- or three-year time horizons when investing in collaborative efforts and commit resources accordingly.


5. Government Collaboration: To achieve scale, shift systems, or sustain long-term change, working with government is critical – but many collaborations bring the government in too late or struggle to do so effectively. Successful collaborations understand government priorities, time frames, budgets, and constraints (and engage with Annual Performance Plans). Collaboration with the government also requires that key government champions are included in early thinking and design (rather than approaching the government once a model or solution has been developed).


6. Agility and Risk Appetite: Effective collaboration requires partners to let go of control; embrace unpredictability; adapt traditional practices and ways of working; and be open to relearning and unlearning. Achieving major change requires a higher appetite for risk, and acceptance that you cannot plan the whole road map at the start. Funders can support this by allocating funds flexibly, allowing the collaboration to spend on what is needed to achieve the focused goal.


7. Humility and Active Engagement with Power Dynamics: Power dynamics are present in every collaboration, particularly between funders and implementers, and the implementing partners and communities they serve. It is critical to engage and listen deeply with humility and willingness to unlearn; involve grantees/implementing partners, as well as the people whom the initiative will serve, in the design of collaborative projects; jointly build monitoring and evaluation frameworks; and create space for partners to say no when something doesn’t suit them.


8. Clear Institutional Arrangements, Including Exit Opportunities: Collaborations need to be clear on each party’s roles and responsibilities. Exit strategies should be built in from the start: organisational strategies and the needs of the collaboration will (and should!) change over time, which might call for a different mix of actors at a later stage.


9. Integration into Funding Practices: Considering collaboration should become a routine part of funding practices. Funding for collaboration should be embedded into grants; grantees should be asked how they will collaborate; and collaboration must be embedded within staff roles and mandates.


Social Media Toolkit


Quotes from the publication that can be used to support its promotion:


1. “Just ‘working together’ isn’t enough; to achieve significant impact, funders need to engage in real work: planning, committing to milestones, and delivering on them”- Siven Maslamoney, Yellowwoods Social Investments.


2. “Achieving significant impact is impossible without collaboration with Government. Even if you took the entire coalition of IPASA it’s still not enough to levels. It can take a long time to get business and some philanthropic foundations to overcome their bias about government;

sometimes one can’t even break down that bias. It’s important not to give up because philanthropy funding effectively catalyses more sustainable government funding.” - Grace Matlape, SmartStart Social Franchise


3. “We know that collaboration gets you further, and quicker, and we’re learning that it is disingenuous to fund collaboration and then stand outside of it. We have to be in it.” - Lethabo Rampya, Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropies.


4. “So much is varied across organisations that cohesion is elusive. I think we need to look at big picture targets if we are to accommodate this variability… We are learning from what others are measuring, but we should rather zoom out to the big picture rather than nit-pick on detail when we’re thinking about MEL.” - Sibongile Khumalo, The Learning Trust


5. “One needs to build a bridge of love before you can drive your truck of truth over it.”- Sean Bastable, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation


Announcement and promotion posts:


Longform Announcement posts (Newsletters, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and website)


To support funders in overcoming challenges in applying collaborative approaches to their work, IPASA has compiled a series of case studies that highlight the experiences of South African foundations. These studies provide practical insights into integrating collaboration into funding strategies, addressing key challenges in collaboration, and leveraging opportunities for collaboration for greater impact.


The IPASA funder collaboration case studies cover nine key learnings, including: the importance of trust, a clear shared vision, dedicated resources, and effective government collaboration. The learnings from these case studies also explore the need for agility, addressing power dynamics, clear institutional arrangements, and integrating collaboration into funding practices.


By sharing these case studies, we aim to inspire and equip other funders to adopt collaborative approaches that can drive significant and sustainable change. Access the full collection of IPASA Funder Collaboration Case


Short-form Announcement posts:


1. IPASA has compiled a series of funder collaboration case studies that highlight key learnings and best practices. These case studies provide insights into the essential elements of successful collaborations, such as trust, clear vision, dedicated resources, long-term commitment, government collaboration, agility, power dynamics, clear institutional arrangements, and integration into funding practices. Access the full IPASA 2023 Funder Collaboration Case Studies collection here: https://ipa-sa.org.za/public/2023-ipasa-collaboration-case-studies/


2. IPASA’s 2023 Funder Collaboration Case Studies reveal that trust is the foundation of successful partnerships. Learn how building strong relationships can drive impactful change. Read more here: https://ipa-sa.org.za/public/2023-ipasa-collaboration-case-studies/


3. Effective partnerships require dedicated resources. IPASA’s 2023 Funder Collaboration case studies provide invaluable insights into how South African foundations have successfully integrated collaborative efforts into their funding strategies. Find out more: https://ipa-sa.org.za/public/2023-ipasa-collaboration-case-studies/

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