In recent conversations, I have not been shy about my opinion that funders need to collaborate more. That is exactly why I am so excited to hear about Co-Impact, a new effort in collaborative philanthropy that brings together donors from across the globe to drive large-scale results for millions of people across the developing world.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that Co-Impact is a successful model that works. The concept is a good one: offer up to $50M for five years for systems-change initiatives. I don’t think that $50M will fix our social problems, but it is enough to make a substantial dent. And, as a former Executive Director, the idea of sitting in a room across from a group of funders and talking about what I need for support sounds intimidating. But at the same time, how often does that happen? Almost never. I myself have never had the experience of a group of funders talking with me about what my nonprofit needs, and offering to brainstorm and to help move initiatives forward. But shouldn’t that be what is happening??
Whether they want it or not, funders have so much power and influence. They can help convene others and bring key partners together from across all sectors. And their leadership is needed. Not to tell nonprofits and communities what they should and should not do, but to provide guidance and serve as a true “sounding-board” partner. But they also need to be fully aware of the power dynamic and be transparent about it. It is much easier to write about it than to actually do it. But it can be done.
So go forth, Co-Impact, and be successful. Show us how funder collaboration can lead to systemic changes so that similar models will follow.