The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.
The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

Maximising the developmental impact of philanthropy: from theory to practice

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Principal Investigator: Roderick Lennox Stirrat. Lead Organisation: University of Sussex

Co-investigators: Filippo Osella; Tom Widger

This project builds upon earlier research into the potential role of charity and philanthropy to support development using Colombo as a case study. The earlier research indicated a considerable demand for assistance in defining more sustainable and effective approaches to charitable and philanthropic activities amongst charitable organisations, the general public and the corporate sector. This project will utilise these findings to generate a more professional and effective approach amongst Sri Lankan philanthropic institutions.

One strand of activities involves workshops for relevant personnel to gain experience of best practice in the utilisation of charitable funds in development interventions. This will not only deal directly with charity and philanthropy but also with broader issues of how such resources can be harnessed to produce a more dynamic and sustainable approach to poverty elimination.

The second strand consists of a pilot project in one relatively poor area of Colombo bringing together a range of charitable organisations and the local population. The aim of this strand is to encourage inter-agency cooperation, build organisational capacity to design and implement initiatives which address the underlying causes of poverty rather than symptoms, and develop 'toolkits' for use in other contexts.

Who will benefit? The ultimate beneficiaries of this intervention will be impoverished and marginalised communities in Colombo, who will benefit from better planned and managed charitable and philanthropic (C&P) interventions. How will they benefit? We will seek to ensure poverty reduction outcomes by turning our previous research findings and wider expertise into concrete actions for C&P actors. These actions derive directly from needs expressed by individuals, groups, and organisations we consulted during the previous project, including our Stakeholder Response Group comprising of leading philanthropists, charity directors, CSR managers operating in Sri Lanka, and government representatives including the Mayor of Colombo. The intervention will consist of two actions aimed at improving C&P in the Colombo context: (1) a set of learning, training, and development (LTD) sessions for C&P leaders and managers and (2) a pilot development programme consisting of a collaboration of different C&P actors working together. These interventions will benefit non-governmental and governmental actors in the following ways. First, up to 105 C&P leaders and managers will benefit through direct participation in LTD sessions that will aim to embed key messages and skills in their organisations, including the use of individualised Action Plans that will produce legacy outcomes over 12 months. These sessions will address core issues including how to make social protection programmes more effective, how to tackle the causes of social deprivation, how to mainstream gender and other forms of social equity, and how to fundraise more effectively. Secondly, the GoSL considers CSR a strategic priority for the country's development. By sharing our findings with key ministers and ministries we will be able to facilitate the development of more effective programmes and public-private partnerships while improving the technical skills of CSR managers themselves. Thirdly, local offices of INGOs and bilateral/multilateral donors will benefit by developing better understandings of how local charities and foundations operate, what their spending priorities and theories of development are, and how partnerships can be created. Meanwhile, local and international civil society organisations seeking to fundraise in Sri Lanka will benefit by developing understandings of local givers' funding priorities. They will also benefit from learning how to 'sell' to local donors from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. This is of key strategic importance for organisations like the Red Cross, UNICEF, Oxfam, and Plan International (e.g Green 2012). More broadly, academics and policy makers/practitioners who are interested in research translation will benefit as the project itself will act as a case study in the formation of knowledge sharing partnerships for impact. Ensuring benefits Strategies for ensuring impacts including legacy actions are built into the proposed intervention, and take direct and indirect forms. Direct impacts will be achieved through organisations' attendance at sessions and through their implementation of Action Plans. Indirect impacts will be achieved via participating organisations own networks, through which they will be responsible for cascading key knowledge and skills. For example, leaders/managers of local C&P actors will be asked to transfer knowledge and skills to their own team, while Sri Lankan offices of INGOs and donors will be asked to cascade knowledge and skills upwards to international parent bodies as well as sideways to other national-level bodies.

Primary theme: 
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Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Sch of Global Studies
Fund Start Date: 
March 1st, 2014
Fund End Date: 
January 31st, 2015
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