Giving Compass' Take:

• Claudia Juech explains that collaborating on funding initiatives is a big part of systems change work, as well as utilizing the most efficient technology and pooling together resources in order to create long-lasting social change. 

• What part can you play in collaborative funding? 

Read a funding collaborative to strengthen secondary education.

Whether we are talking about improving educational outcomes for girls or the access to clean water in informal urban settlements, we know that these complex challenges are caused by multiple factors. If we want to go beyond addressing the symptoms and aim for lasting change, we need to take a systems approach. This requires:

  • Defining the boundaries of the system and understanding the problem in its context
  • Working with many actors that are part of the system, across private, public and civil sector. Identifying the levers that will alter the system, such as policy shifts, changes in public perception, etc
  • Using iterative monitoring and learning methods to establish quick feedback loops, instead of operating in a linear fashion.

Many foundations are applying a systems change mindset to their way of working. But we could do much more to collectively implement this approach, mainly by changing how and how much we collaborate. As funders, we come together but often in a decentralized way – by topic, approach or geography – and in alliances that focus on pooling financial support.

To optimize the ecosystem of change, foundations need to have a clearer understanding of their role in the system, know where their resources and expertise best fit local needs and should not expect their single approach to be sufficient to affect systems change.

Read more about systems change philanthropy by Claudia Juech at Cloudera.