The compounding crises of last year brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic marked a pivotal moment for the field of philanthropy. As we look to emerge from the pandemic, growing senses of hope for fundamental change are accompanied by a strong pull back to the way things were.
The massive social and economic disruptions have catalyzed a transformational wave of change across the sector — and caused philanthropic organizations to re-direct priorities for emergency response and post-COVID-19 recovery.
Safeguarding continuity of essential services amidst the pandemic is a global challenge. The seismic shift created by the pandemic has impacted philanthropy organizations at nearly every level—from overall spending to giving priorities, to internal operations, and strategic planning.
The restrictions brought about by the coronavirus have so far seen the collapse of the majority of philanthropy projects. Those that had long-term secured funding were able to adapt and continue, while short-term interventions relying on continuous fundraising that were the most needed were the first to cave in.
In spite of these challenges, there was an enormous and inspiring response to the COVID-19 crisis mounted by social entrepreneurs, local businesses, and philanthropic organizations alike. This outpouring of humanitarianism reminded us that philanthropy is critical to global development challenges.
Philanthropy today takes place in a context that is radically different from the environment in which many of its current models, systems, and structures were developed. As such as the global economy slowly opens up it is imperative for the sector adopt a partnership model of mutually beneficial relationship to maximize on the impact of their operations based on the Shared Values of participating organizations.
Finding the right partner, especially in the execution of post-COVID philanthropy is still crucial to the success of securing the social license for businesses operating in a particular area. When philanthropic activities mirror or complement another, then there are opportunities for convergence in execution.
Industry leaders overwhelmingly recognize this unprecedented time as an opportunity to reflect on questions regarding philanthropy that were already being raised prior to COVID-19 but have now taken on new urgency.
Instead of seeking partnerships for ongoing or stalled projects, organizations adopting the Shared Value model work towards initiating original projects with inputs from their partners from the onset. This is to ensure alignments in terms of objectives and outputs, financing, human and financial resources mobilization, and co-ownership with the beneficiaries of the project.
The model also recognizes the programme beneficiary communities as co-owners and ensures they participate in decision-making regarding the solutions offered to them.
Despite the fact that the Shared Value model of philanthropy is yet to take root firmly across the sector, the main objective is rooted in the successful implementation of community projects and sustainable support for development. An enabling environment for effective partnerships should be able to create, recreate, facilitate, and promote the flow of energy between people and build trust.
Taken together, partnerships formed through the Shared Value model are blueprints for aligning the interests and goals of organizations and demonstrating how collaborations can benefit the efforts of the public and philanthropic sectors.
Leveraging on this model, organizations can realize their funding objectives through the increase of project funding, cost efficiencies through a shared strategy; better or improved due diligence on potential grantees; access to networks, and specialized skills that an individual donor may not have in terms of human resource capacities; and the synergistic force of different sectors.
It’s the clear purpose and convergence of interest that enables the engagement of a highly successful partnership worthy of study for organizations seeking to engage in a worthy collaboration for social good.
*Ernest Nyamasyo is the Communications Officer at the KenGen Foundation a member of EAPN.