Examples and Stories

Funders as Partners provides a framework for individual funders and also alliances or consortia of funders to engage with partnership brokers as a means of increasing the performance and impact of their collaborations.

Many funders have done more than build a sensitivity to partnering processes. They have introduced partnering investment into their own ongoing activities and programming. Examples include Funders who have:

  • Invested in the partnering process prior to allocating project funding – enabling the partners to build their partnership prior to committing to a specific programme of work
  • Allocated funding specifically to strengthen the partnership in addition to financing project activities
  • Pre-agreed an acceptable level of exploration, experimentation and risk with partners to enable innovation and new ways of working – enabling partners to learn as they work together
  • Found ways of putting a tangible value and reporting on non-cash contributions
  • Engaged with a partnership as a full partner – attending partnership meetings and working with partners to co-create programmes and to regularly review the partnership itself in terms of unexpected outcomes, added value and impacts on systems.
  • Hosted and / or promoted / subsidized access to professional partnership training for their programme staff, grantees and stakeholders.

Sharing practical experience and stories accounting how funders are partnering is an important contribution of the project. Here we present a collection of examples and stories of how funders have tried to increase the impact of their funding where they have sought intentionally to partner. We are seeking stories from different perspectives, including those of stakeholders, grantees.

“Stories are, at heart, like a baton handed over in a relay team…  they give each of us a visual template of what to expect, a map of the ‘wilderness’. But, most of all, the best stories provide a sort of psychological preparation for life’s inevitable struggles. In short, stories are prescriptions for courage”
From: Buster, B., Do Story: How to Tell your Story so the World Listens 2013 published: The Do Book Company

The Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy (GACP) was a collaboration of 6 public and private funders, which operated between 2013-2019. It was set up to promote the idea of community philanthropy and community foundations across the globe. Unusually for funders, the motivation was not to finance directly community philanthropy, by for example pooling funds, but rather to clarify, educate and encourage other funders to see community philanthropy as opportunity. The Alliance also sought to encourage research and development on how to resource community foundations more effectively – recognizing that these were place-based partnerships in their own right. The story of the Alliance has important lessons for funders seeking to collaborate more effectively with one another. The PBA accompanied GACP on its journey and tells its story.
Serafin, R. & Tennyson, R.: Donors Working Together. The story of the Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy. (September, 2019)

Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) is the world’s first municipal climate agency (est. 1991), which has put partnering at the core of its operations by actively exploring and testing new approaches to donor/partner relationships (e.g. by financing smaller and less well-resourced groups to participate as partners and ensure their voice could be heard or joint fundraising to finance deep energy efficiency retrofits in social housing), by funding partnering capacity building of partners and beneficiaries, as well as modelling reflective practices internally in TAF. The Fund has been incubating partnering capabilities and competencies in the wider region through training and supporting partnership brokers. Two examples:

  • Move the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Region (GTHA). An example of TAF in action is illustrated by its engagement with the Move the GTHA group of 13 multi-sectoral groups – labour, business, environmental, public health, transportation, civic society, academic – represented 250,000 members and created a reach to over one million regional residents. By co-crafting a regional strategy to promote transit investment and aligning their messages, the group amplified their impact. The outcome – C$2B in funding committed from the government of Ontario. TAF funded the work, provided partnership brokering support for the group, and participated as a full member, representing our climate mandate.
  •  Low Carbon Cities Canada partnership. TAF has worked with several funding agency partners coming together to create a network of 6 brokering organisations across Canada (2020) to speed the transition to a low carbon future at the city-scale. The partnership has raised C$185 million for this cross-sector collaborative initiative. [Coming soon]

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) has championed partnering approaches for several years, seeking to achieve greater impact as a bilateral donor. Many reports review, assess and comment on the effectiveness of this strategy. But what are the lessons for partnership practitioners. Dulani Sirisena, a PBA accredited broker tells the story of her experience on the front-line with DFAT in Sri Lanka, offering 6 lessons for other bilateral donors seeking to improve their partnering practice.
Six Lessons in Partnering for Bilateral Donors: Experiences from the Australian Community Rehabilitation Program (ACRP3) in Sri Lanka.  [Coming soon]

We invite you to share your partnering story, please write to us or use the template below. You contribution can be in the form of a text, video or interview. We can help you tell your story.

Here you can download some prompts to help you share your story.