Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems

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In a time of a global pandemic, philanthropy aims to connect inefficiencies and use modern-day technological systems to help magnify and accentuate classic structures of charitable giving. The pandemic has shown starkly and unquestionably that both the problems we endure and the solutions we construct ultimately rely on complex and interlinked systems. The question becomes “How can we understand how the underlying issues are interconnected, and assess the best path towards an impactful systems change?”

This publication is the third of the Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems initiative, a collaboration between Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), Skoll Foundation, the Ford Foundation and other funders that commenced in 2016 with the goal of identifying and promoting best practices for scaling solutions and impact, and funding for systems change related the world’s pressing challenges. The initiative utilizes a global lens, and has included interviews with both grantees and funders across Asian countries, as well as convenings in Asia.

This new report builds on insights explored in the first and second publications. The first two reports included case studies of Landesa (a global NGO focusing on land rights that works in China, India, and Myanmar, among other countries); China Environmental Grantmakers Alliance, the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, and many more.

The report draws on findings from a 2019 convening on how funders can design for and measure progress on systems change. One session utilized China’s transformation as a case study, discussing how transformation comes from local, state, and market actors who, together, improvise creative solutions to continuously changing problems.

Core to the report are takeaways from three global workshops, case studies that explored the applicability of multi-sector approaches to systems change. A workshop was held in New Delhi, India, with the focus on how international funders, local Indian funders, nonprofits, businesses, multilateral agencies, and local government can advance systems-level change empowering girls and women in India. The report the participants’ recommendations for philanthropy with a gender lens, such as:

  • Implement gender audits of grantees (e.g. asking the number of women in leadership roles);
  • Develop and indicator to measure how much philanthropic capital is going to gender-related causes in India;
  • Create and promote norms for transparency in gender-related philanthropy;
  • Educate funders of viewing their grantmaking with a gender equity lens.

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