New Scaling Solutions Initiative Report Highlights Importance of Collaboration to Drive Systems Change

Date

October 3, 2018

Co-Author: Heather Grady

4 min read

Summary Points:

  • Funders are recommended to adopt the SCALE framework to create collaborative, systems-level change
  • Learn for leading practitioners and existing collaborative models to maximize impact

As part of its Scaling Solutions initiative, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors has released a new report entitled Scaling Solutions Toward Shifting Systems: Approaches for Impact, Approaches for Learning, in partnership with the Skoll Foundation and others.

The Scaling Solutions Initiative examines when, how and why an organization’s solutions are able to grow at significant scale. It seeks to determine what internal and external factors have the most significant impact on organizations achieving the systems-level shifts that they and their funders anticipated. With a goal to encourage funders to work more collaboratively to place longer-term, more adaptive resources with grantees and investees for greater impact, this initiative provides recommendations and findings on funder collaboratives aimed specifically at systems change based on research and analysis of the philanthropic sector.

Building on Prior Research to Strengthen Recommendations

This new report expands on findings from the Initiative’s first report, Scaling Solutions Toward Shifting Systems, published in 2017. There, the steering group examined practices implemented by funders that either helped or hindered their efforts to create systems-level change. Based on these findings, the report recommended that funders work with their grantees to “SCALE” toward shifting systems:

  • Streamlining processes for application and reporting.
  • Collaborating more effectively.
  • Accelerating impact through non-monetary support.
  • Learning more about systems change.
  • Empowering grantees by intentionally shifting the power dynamics between the givers and receivers of funds.

Research Methodology

For this new addition to the Scaling Solutions initiative, the research team aimed to answer two questions that are essential to understanding successful systems change:

  1. How and why funders have chosen to shift their policies and practices to incorporate the guidelines outlined above; and
  2. What can we learn from funder collaborative models that base their mission around systems change.

To address these inquiries, researchers completed interviews with about three dozen individuals who are a part of either funder collaboratives or organizations aimed at creating systems change. Emerging ideas from this research were shared at 15 conferences and workshops in almost a dozen countries. This research concluded, as stated in the report, “behaviors that undermine grantees’ ability to achieve their missions are norms not grounded in formal policies, tax laws, or governance requirements, but rather practices that have nonetheless become ingrained in the sector.”

Illustrating Findings through Case Studies

The report—and accompanying website—presents seven findings relating to how projects have successfully implemented the “SCALE” methods. The findings are illustrated through more than 30 case studies demonstrating how funders have supported systems change, including more than a dozen examples from funders implementing practices that prioritize their grantees’ partnership and needs, as well as some 25 funder collaboratives working together to address society’s most pressing problems. From the Freedom Fund to the Arctic Funders Collaborative, each story is unique and represents a strategy rooted in collaboration, continuous learning and different forms of non-monetary support. These projects span geography, size, age, duration and form—yet each provides an example of what can happen when funders view their grantees as partners and prioritize collaboration as an approach to creating transformational change.

Heather Grady, Vice President of RPA and a lead writer and researcher on the report, emphasized the importance of the report in the ongoing dialogue on systems change: “We scoured the philanthropy sector for effective, inspiring approaches by funders that help organizations scale solutions and impact, and we are eager to share what we uncovered.”

To access the report and additional case studies, please visit Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors’ Scaling Solutions website here.

 


About Author
Melissa Blackerby
Melissa Blackerby Communications Associate Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Melissa contributes to management of external and internal communications, digital content and publication development, and event planning coordination. With a passion for digital storytelling, she manages social media outreach with the goal of engaging users in a two-way dialogue and establishing RPA channels as resources for philanthropy news. She also provides digital marketing and social media support to projects including the SDG Philanthropy Platform.

Prior to joining RPA in 2016, Melissa supported the social media team at UN Women. She particularly enjoyed working at the United Nations during the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, which continue to be a source of inspiration throughout her career. Additionally, she previously managed digital outreach for children’s rights non-profit ECPAT-USA and served as their United Nations DPI-NGO Youth Representative.

She is a graduate of Stetson University, where she majored in Communications and Media Studies with a focus in journalism. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys hiking the Hudson Valley, perfecting her roundhouses in the kickboxing gym, and knitting dress-up costumes for her niece and nephew.