UK Aid Connect, funded by the UK Government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), comprised 13 consortia working on eight themes. Working across the themes, ranging from “disability inclusion” to “building open societies”, each consortium has been working with communities and people who have been marginalised.
In 2020, the Learning from Consortia programme was established to learn from these consortia’s experiences and insights to draw out good practice in consortium working, as well as helping donors understand how they can best support consortia deliver their outcomes. The programme was led by Bond and The Partnering Initiative, along with an academic advisory board.
About the Programme
Many development challenges are complex and intractable, particularly those involving populations who are marginalised. This makes them impossible to solve with traditional single-sector approaches. In response, a variety of multi-stakeholder approaches have emerged to leverage the diverse perspectives, knowledge, resources and networks that are needed to create new, integrated, more systemic development programmes.
The inclusion of ‘partnership’ within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 17) is a recognition of the prominence that collaborative approaches have in the current development landscape.
A consortium is one of the numerous forms of multi-stakeholder partnerships now being created. While there has been significant research on the key success factors and effective practice of multi-stakeholder partnerships, and many guides developed, consortia are a special form of collaboration that has been much less studied.
The Learning from Consortia programme was created with dual purpose: to undertake research and draw out effective consortium practice from their experiences and to simultaneously support the 13 UK Aid Connect consortia to deliver as effectively as possible. Led by Bond, The Partnering Initiative and an academic advisory board, the Learning from Consortia programme brought together more than 100 people from a diverse range of INGOs, academic institutions, networks and media organisations.
Representatives from each consortium participated in Learning from Practice sessions, where they shared their experiences and learning on the challenges of working in a consortium.
The programme launched 11 resources designed to help existing and future consortia and donors be more effective in their work. These include:
- A guide to emerging thinking and effective practices in consortium working. It includes some of the key challenges a consortium faces as a result of its structure and ambitions, methods for maximising the consortium’s value, collaborative leadership and governance, and how to close or transition a consortium.
- A Health Check Report exploring whether the consortia found the Learning from Consortia programme’s health checks useful, and in what ways it helped them.
The programme also had a public event – “What can we learn from working in consortia?” – which was attended by more than 100 people from NGOs, institutes, networks and donor organisations.
Regrettably, the FCDO took the decision to close the Learning from Consortia programme and five UK Aid Connect consortia early, along with significant cuts to the remaining eight programmes. However, we are incredibly proud of what has been achieved through working collaboratively together.
Building robust understanding of how consortia can work more effectively, equitably and sustainably is essential to creating more robust and responsible international development programmes. Ultimately, this will ensure communities that consortia work with are better supported and represented, and that more can be achieved. We hope that the resources and learning from the Programme will provide current and future donors and practitioners with the knowledge and tools they need to improve their policy and practice.
Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. They unite and support a diverse network of over 450 civil society organisations and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice. They also deliver a range of services to help organisations be more effective and improve the quality and impact of their work.
The United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is a ministerial department, supported by 12 agencies and public bodies. It was created on 2 September 2020 through the merger of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development.
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Programme Leads and contributing TPI Associates
- Anna Hirsch-Holland, TPI Core Team Member and Programme Lead
- Tom Harrison, TPI Core Team Member and Programme Lead
- Jo Pyres, TPI Associate and Programme Advisor
- Niall Marriott, TPI Associate and Programme Advisor
- Rachel Houghton, TPI Associate and Programme Advisor
- Cath Russ, TPI Associate and Programme Advisor
Interested in learning more?
If you are interested in this programme and would like to enquire about how you can receive hands on support from TPI to realise the best practices – either as a donor or a member of a consortium – please reach out to Tom Harrison at email@example.com.