To ensure that BUILD is maximising learnings from this focused, time-bound initiative, NIRAS helps identify and track learning questions and evaluates progress.

The Ford Foundation's BUILD Initiative

A participatory, iterative and adaptive developmental evaluation of the Ford Foundation’s BUILD model

NIRAS is providing real-time feedback for learning and programme adjustments to the grant-making programme to ensure its efforts to strengthen social justice and equality are on track.

The Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD) initiative is a five-year, US$1 billion investment in the long-term capacity and sustainability of up to 300 social justice and civil society organisations around the world. The support aims to strengthen these institutions, making them more effective at achieving their core missions, and reducing inequality in all its forms.

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.

BUILD grantee organisations work across a range of sectors including: civic engagement and governance; creativity and free expression; gender, racial and ethnic justice; internet freedom; and natural resources and climate change.

The role of NIRAS

NIRAS is conducting a developmental evaluation of the BUILD model and is not an evaluation of specific grantees, programme strategies or teams. Designed to be participatory, iterative and adaptive, developmental evaluations are flexible, enabling programmes to track and understand outcomes as they emerge. The evaluation assesses the impact of the programme’s approach and facilitates learning about the mechanisms and conditions for success and improved implementation. It covers BUILD in the US and Global South.

The NIRAS team is collecting quantitative and qualitative data, providing real-time feedback for learning and programme adjustments, informing the next phase of BUILD, and tracking both emerging issues as well as longitudinal impacts. In the words of the Foundation: ”Ultimately, our hope is that the evaluation will contribute to more nuanced evidence and compelling stories about BUILD as a grant-making approach, which will help shift the field of philanthropy toward providing more flexible, grantee-centered support.”

To learn more about this evaluation assignment

Download the Project Brief