Supporting the philanthropic sector to deliver transformational change through partnership
Philanthropic organisations, including foundations and associations of funders, are uniquely positioned to play their part in aligning and combining the limited human, natural and financial resources of the planet to create more resilient, sustainable and just societies. They are funders, but they can also be partners, drivers of innovation, and catalysts for collective action across sectors. However, to maximise the transformative potential of partnership, philanthropic organisations are finding that they need to change the way they think and operate.
Recognising this challenge, a group of pioneering philanthropic foundations have come together with The Partnering Initiative (TPI) to develop the state of the art of partnering for philanthropic impact.
Building on TPI’s 20 years of tried and tested approaches for effective partnership, this collaborative programme seeks to evolve how philanthropic organisations partner – from transforming their relationships with individual grantees, to spearheading transformational multi-stakeholder partnerships. Bringing together peers from the global philanthropy sector, the programme helps to build the strategy and institutional capacity of philanthropic organisations to maximise their social impact through partnership, while building new approaches for a step change in sector practice.
The programme has three interconnected strands working at different levels:
Individual programmes of support with philanthropic organisations, directly helping them to optimize, and maximise impact, through more systematic and strategic partnership approaches, while drawing out learning for the wider sector.
Peer-to-peer knowledge exchange: Learning from, and sharing experiences with, peer foundations going through similar journeys and dealing with similar challenges.
Sector practice development through research, design, testing, and dissemination of new approaches for philanthropy-supported and led transformational partnerships.
Progress to date
Partnering for philanthropic impact
Working closely with a small group of pioneering foundations, including Johnson & Johnson Foundation and the Z Zurich Foundation as core partners, TPI undertook a year of collaborative research resulting in a major sector report: Partnering for Philanthropic Impact. The report sets out a framework to help make sense of the different ways in which philanthropic organisations can approach partnering to increase their impact (see below), as well as initial thinking on what foundations need to do to transform and build their institutional capacity to optimize their partnering.
In addition to the original research, the programme has held a number of peer-to-peer exchange workshops for Foundation colleagues. The most recent workshop, kindly hosted by Wellcome Trust, focussed on issues of power and equity in partnerships, a key topic likely to form the next area of research for the programme.
Public Private Philanthropy Partnerships (PPPPs)
As an initial phase of a major new programme to accelerate the use of PPPPs, TPI, with the support of Laudes Foundation and the African Climate Foundation and in association with WAPPP, undertook research looking at 46 PPPPs around the world. The aim was to understand how they deliver systems transformation, and the essential role of Philanthropy in injecting the ‘activation energy’ that makes them happen. The report was launched in December 2023 at COP28 and provides fascinating insights into the power and flexibility of PPPPs.
The report includes our newly published PPPP Library, which includes details of all 46 PPPPs analysed, and provides a resource to PPPP practitioners globally.
The next phase of the programme will be to directly support a number of PPPPs, draw out learning from the experience and begin to codify and develop best practice guidance.
Direct support to foundations
TPI has worked with a number of foundations to support their work. These include:
- Wellcome Trust: TPI is working as an ‘accompanying partner’ to Wellcome Trust’s new Strategic Partnerships Team. Initiated through a ‘fit for partnering’ analysis to determine needs, TPI is helping to build up the partnering strategic approach, tools and processes (including around M&E) to help Wellcome to continue to excel at partnering.
- Jacobs Foundation: TPI developed case studies of two Jacob partnerships, helping the foundation to take stock and draw out learning from their collaborations.
- CIFF: TPI developed a training course to build many of the ‘soft’, human relationship-building skills needed to build equitable partnerships with grantees.
- Porticus: TPI undertook a major piece of research, examining 14 of Porticus’s partnerships to understand a) in what ways and to what extent the partnerships were able to exploit collaborative advantage to deliver extra impact (i.e. more than the sum of their parts); and b) what were the enabling factors. A report is available below.
- J&J Foundation: TPI developed a partnership training course, and a partnering support portal, for J&J Foundation and J&J business staff, building their capabilities to develop more transformational partnerships.
Reports and publications
Developed with Laudes Foundation and the African Climate Foundation, in association with WAPPP, this original research and thought piece draws on the real experiences of 46 PPPPs around the world. It is designed to inspire and equip philanthropy with knowledge and insights to play its essential role in providing the ‘activation energy’ that can unlock the power of transformational Public-Private-Philanthropy Partnerships (PPPPs).
Developed in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Foundation and the Z Zurich Foundation, this report sets out a framework to help make sense of the different ways in which philanthropic organisations can approach partnering to increase their impact (see below), as well as initial thinking on what foundations need to do to transform and build their institutional capacity to optimize their partnering.
This report presents the findings of TPI’s analysis of partnership value creation across 14 Porticus programmes. From this analysis, the report identified four specific enablers of successful, value-creating collaboration funded by philanthropy.
Join your peers!
The Partnering for Philanthropic Impact Programme works with philanthropic organisations, both individually and collectively, to think through the innovations in strategy and institutional capacity required to adopt these various models and to deliver transformational development through partnership.
The programme is relevant for wherever philanthropic organisations are in their partnership journeys – from considering changes in relationships with individual grantees, to exploring their role as systems leaders in transformational multi-stakeholder collaborations.
Individual support projects
Tailored support helps individual foundations to reach the next level while also contributing to best practice for the sector as a whole. Foundations including Wellcome Trust, Porticus, Jacobs Foundation, Z Zurich Foundation, CIFF, and J&J Foundation have benefited from:
- Strategy development – to define an organisation’s partnership ambition to deliver its strategic objectives more effectively
- Fit for Partnering assessment – to understand and address the extent to which an organisation’s leadership and strategy, systems and processes, staff capacities, and organisational culture are set-up for effective and impactful partnering
- Development of pro-partnering systems – legal agreements, processes including partnership grant application processes
- Partnership health checks – to review how well existing partnerships are functioning and support improvements
- Staff and grantee partnering capacity building – to build individual skills, knowledge, and behaviours for partnering.
“The team at TPI understand deeply the fundamental building blocks of partnering[…] Their analysis and insights are very practical and will enable us to take a robust approach and make it more effective still.”
Z Zurich Foundation
Knowledge exchange and peer learning
Together with partners in the Philanthropic ecosystem, the programme curates events and resources for individual practitioners to share learning, and inspire each other’s practice.
- Open events – featuring partner foundations, and covering topics such as how to use the four models of Foundation Partnering; partnering with business / industry and government; and addressing power imbalances through partnership
- Closed peer learning exchange sessions – with topics designed co-creatively with participating organisations to focus on their needs
- Blogs, case studies, and podcasts exploring key themes on philanthropic partnering impact.
Sector practice development
To influence sector best practice as a whole, the programme will develop and disseminate practical approaches and guidance. This will involve:
- research to understand the issues and existing practices
- development of evidence-based conceptual frameworks and strategic guidance
- co-creation and piloting of methodologies and tools, and
- refinement and packaging of outputs for the benefit of the wider sector. This area of programming will be informed by the other strands and co-created with participating organisations.
Topics under consideration include:
- Understanding power and building equitable partnerships
- Methods for tracking, measuring, and maximising the impact and added value of partnership and system transformation
- Effective practice for philanthropic organisations as systems leaders and funders of multi-stakeholder partnerships.
How the programme is funded
Individual programmes are funded by the relevant foundation, typically also including funding to draw out and share learning more widely. The knowledge exchange and peer learning strand of the programme is supported by TPI itself, with foundations hosting and supporting specific peer-to-peer events. Sector practice development is funded by organisations with specific interests in the topics or keen to support the philanthropic sector to break new ground.
As the programme develops, TPI continues to partner with foundations and philanthropy supporting organisations and entities.
Interested in learning more?
If you are a foundation interested in participating in the Partnering for Philanthropic Impact programme, please contact Anna Hirsch-Holland (firstname.lastname@example.org)