The nature of philanthropy as we know it is changing. It has evolved from direct aid to bespoke outcome-linked programs to a higher systems change aspiration. The nature of philanthropy is also – undeniably – in flux, as this shift in aspirations brings with it a shift in operating models. Recognizing that systems are complex beasts with many interlinkages and leverage points for change, philanthropies are learning that it is futile to travel the systems’ change journey alone. And thus, the power of collaboration is being embraced like never before.

Funder collectives are gaining momentum around the world. From global collaboratives that support new economic thinking and acting, such as the Partners for a New Economy (P4NE), to geography specific initiatives, such as the India Climate Collaborative, funders are recognizing that collective action is the only path to overcoming climate change. Likewise, the pandemic necessitated philanthropies coming together as well. India saw Samhita-Collective Good Foundation (CGF), USAID, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), and Omidyar Network India collaborate to launch a $6.85 million blended finance facility called REVIVE. REVIVE provides accessible and affordable capital in the form of grants to restore livelihoods lost to Covid-19.

Philanthropies are embracing the fact that only by combining their forces together are they able to change systems and narratives. It is now near universally accepted that collaboratives can help leapfrog beyond the incremental change that individual funders achieve.

One such collaborative is Funders Organized for Rights in the Global Economy (FORGE). Established in 2019, FORGE is the product of philanthropic funders wanting to channel their collective resources to work at the cross-section of building rights-based movements and creating a global economy. They envision the latter as one that works for both people and the planet, shaped by and accountable to worker and community-led movements.

Here’s what I learned on what it takes to build a successful collaborative:

  1. We’re here to learn; let go of your strategies.
  2. Get your hands dirty.
  3. Play up your strengths.
  4. If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
  5. Have fun but speak up as well.

Read the full article about setting up a funder collaborative by Ipshita Sinha at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.