Walking Together in Partnership is a new approach to grantmaking and partnership in international development. It aims to help local organisations fulfil their mission by focusing on capacity development and flexible funding, which covers overheads on a full recovery basis.
After identifying that a project-focused grant system often led to dependency on it as an international funder, All We Can (working name of the Methodist Relief and Development Fund) sought a way to improve the organisational sustainability of its partners. It felt that after it exited partnerships, some organisations were left weaker. It also wanted to recognise the imbalance of power between international NGOs and local organisations by acknowledging the partners’ knowledge of the environment in which they operate. And it realised that it could be more effective by supporting fewer partners more intensively.
Supporting local partners to diversify their funding ensures resilience and allows them to scale up to reach more vulnerable people. All We Can talks about exits from the beginning of a partnership, and has been struck by how much its partners have valued the change in approach – and how disempowered they felt previously.
Sunarma, one its partners in Ethiopia, attributes the model – and being funded in line with its strategic objectives rather than via a single project – as a key factor in its success over the last two years. It says that the partnership goes beyond a typical donor/recipient relationship. “It is characterised by mutual respect, a sharing of perspectives and a valuing of the local partner’s expertise and experience.”
Awards judge John Low praised the charity’s initiative to take proactive steps to fund in a different way, and Danielle Walker Palmour said its 15-year commitment to partners was “unheard of” in the grantmaking sector.
“It’s an amazing thing to say to any organisation, we will stand beside you for 15 years to help you be a better organisation,” she said.
Ruth Davison was impressed with All We Can’s efforts to “devolve power, empower grantees and provide core funding”. She said that even though it is a development NGO that fundraises and gives grants rather than a traditional grantmaker, “I still think the way they are doing it is quite exceptional, and traditional grantmakers could learn from what they’re doing. They are using the methodology of grantmaking in a progressive way.”
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