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Muna Wehbe, CEO of Stars Foundation took part in Philanthropy University’s “Questions worth Asking” video chat series. The interview was watched by Philanthropy University learners from across the globe, many of whom had submitted questions in advance. This post will revisit some of Muna’s answers to the questions raised. Read a preview here and finish the interview on Philanthropy University.
Does Stars often see local NGOs facing the challenge of implementing projects based on funders’ timelines and requirements?
Yes we do. Let me start by giving you a very quick introduction to Stars. We are awards based, so we don’t do what might be termed as normal grant giving. Our flagship programme is the Impact Awards which is centred on children and young people; we also run the With and For Girls Awardwhich is focused on finding and funding great girl-led and girl-centred organizations. Our funding is unrestricted because we believe that we should be locally-led. Our interest is in finding effective local organizations delivering impact. When we find them, we assess them and the work they are doing. We believe it is our job to facilitate the good work they do in the best way possible. So to do that we provide flexible funding and support them with capacity building.
Why do you not fund through intermediaries?
What we see generally is that channeling funding through intermediaries, or ‘fundermedaries’ as they are sometimes known, becomes a transactional relationship. What tends to happen is organizations are funded for programs, not for sustainability. Organizations are not funded based on their mission and so they are not given investment for their infrastructure and the sustainability of their organization. So we perpetuate the cycle. Donors say “they are too small, we can’t get money to them” or “they are not big enough, they can’t absorb large amounts of funding.” But if we don’t invest in them in the first instance, and allow them to grow sustainably, we will never get to the point where that changes.