NIRAS is engaged in the developmental evaluation of the grant-making programme aimed to understand whether the initiative is successfully achieving its objectives.
Now more than ever, the pursuit of social justice and equality is necessary. These changes are often driven by civil society organisations, most of which depend on donor funding for survival. However, the current trends in funding support as well as various forms of instability worldwide mean that these organisations face more pressure than before.
In response to this, the Ford Foundation launched BUILD (Building Institutions and Networks), a five-year grant-making initiative of USD 1 billion aimed at strengthening up to 300 civil society organisations. This initiative is different from most other donor practices, as BUILD introduces another way to support civil society through a combination of grant-making strategies that include unrestricted general operating support, multi-year commitment, core support for institutional strengthening, convening of grantees to share their learning, and technical assistance.
Reflecting this, BUILD has two objectives:
In order to understand whether BUILD is successfully achieving its objectives and to learn about the process, the Ford Foundation has commissioned NIRAS to conduct a developmental evaluation. The evaluation, set to run in three phases from 2018 to 2021, aims to:
The familiarisation phase, the first of three phases, drew to a close in February with the publication of the Familiarisation Report. The next developmental evaluation phase focuses on initial trend analysis and runs from November 2018 to June 2019. The final evaluative phase will take place from July 2019 to March 2021.
While the evaluation is still in its early stages, BUILD’s funding approach and technical assistance is promising as a transformative approach to social justice grant-making.
A key takeaway from the report is that dedicated focus on institutional strengthening enables grantees to work more intentionally and strategically. The commitment to five years of predictable funding enables grantees to focus on reflective, strategic, and structured strengthening of their organisations, networks, and partnerships.
How successfully this support will lead to social change remains to be seen, but NIRAS will be accompanying the Ford Foundation on the process every step of the way.