23 November 2021

Collaborative and cross-sectoral approaches to systemic and sustainable change with the Philanthropic Leadership Platform: India-Europe

The fourth session of the first edition of the Philanthropic Leadership Platform: India-Europe took place via Zoom on the 16 November. Conducted in partnership with the Asian Venture Philanthropy Association (AVPN), it was the final session of a series of interactive peer-learning sessions spanning over two months. Denderah Rickmers, Senior Knowledge Associate at AVPN, hosted the conversation around the central theme of “collaboration” with the keynote speaker of the event; Shailja Mehta, 10to19 Adolescents Collaborative, Dasra. Denderah has previously contributed to a report on collaborative philanthropy, which was published by AVPN last year. At the beginning of the session, all participants were asked to briefly describe what the word “collaboration” meant to them or their organisation and from this base of knowledge move into the main discussions of the session .

Shailja began her intervention by responding to a question on personal guiding values and principles for collaboration. Instead of a separate Q&A, participants asked questions throughout the intervention; thus, reflecting the theme of collaboration. She listed four aspects to consider when choosing to work in a collaborative way, including: considering the motivation to want to collaborate in the first place; having clarity on roles, structures, processes, systems and milestones; having a chief facilitator or backbone organisation; and finally, the many different forms of communication.

On the topic of attribution and tracking collective impact, an operational suggestion Shailja mentioned is to have an aggregated outcomes framework and consider what this means for the collaborative. Overall, she argued for moving away from the model of attribution and contribution to a middle ground that considers collective approaches. In addition, she suggested in creating collective outcomes frameworks, which also measure the success of collaborations in its many forms. These would be agreed by all partners and would assist with the aggregation of outcomes. To avoid convolution when it comes to various key performance indicators (KPIs) of different organisations, a solution is to create an aggregation model. This would allow for the aggregation of outcomes in some specific areas of work.

As regards key learnings, Shailja mentioned that the 10to19 Adolescents Collaborative is currently in the phase of developing and renewing their strategy. One was to incorporate a more rounded and holistic outcomes framework but also measuring aspects, such as partnerships and negotiations with funders. Secondly, the concept simplification and how this can be a challenge when there a lot of different factors at a play.

Interestingly, towards the end of her intervention, Shailja explained that foundations have to be at the right stage to participate in a collaborative, specifically that they can be too young for this in the early stages of their growth. She ended her intervention by reaffirming that collaboration is a human way of functioning and that it can help navigate the complexities of processes and technologies, for example.

Following Shailja’s intervention, a quick poll was conducted and the results formed the nucleus of the following conversations. An interesting result was that most of the fellows found it at least important for philanthropy to collaborate. Participants were then split into various breakout rooms to share their experiences of collaboration, namely the various success factors and potential challenges. Feeding back into the plenary, participants mentioned themes such as learning and keeping an open mind when considering collaboration. In addition, the fact that it can be difficult to align objectives but also ways of operating. Another theme is the challenge of different regulatory environments, which can in turn hamper collaboration.

This session brought the course to a close, with participants being invited back to a stock taking event in February 2022.

For more information contact Sevda Kilicalp.