Many US-based foundations have set goals to increase their funding to local organizations but struggle to identify local partners, provide them with the resources they need, and support them effectively.

Responding to the significant gap between funders’ desire to invest locally and their capacity to do so, Rise Up and Dalberg Advisors conducted research with 220 local leaders in 14 countries concerning how philanthropy can more effectively support locally led organizations.

This research generated the following recommendations for funders seeking to expand their grantmaking to local organizations while ensuring the effectiveness, accountability, and impact of their investments:

Funding alone is often insufficient, and international funders can support local organizations to achieve much greater change by providing multiple forms of support. Local leaders and organizations are often working to transform deeply entrenched social problems that require multiple forms of support. Over 80 percent of leaders surveyed reported that having access to a flexible bundle of support – including leadership and advocacy training, mentoring, flexible funding, and peer networks – increased their ability to achieve their goals.

Some international foundations have already begun to provide these wraparound supports – for example, Echidna Giving supports partners by making introductions to potential funders, amplifying the work of local leaders across their own philanthropic network, and offering grantees the opportunity to apply for organizational effectiveness funds to strengthen their capacity in strategic planning, program and measurement design, technology integration, gender mainstreaming, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

International funders need to develop a more expansive and inclusive understanding of leadership and effectiveness. Philanthropists are too often influenced by their own unconscious bias and cultural norms concerning what local leadership and organizational effectiveness should look like. Research participants pointed out how hard it was for philanthropists to see local organizations as legitimate, especially if they lacked references from other funders, degrees from highly branded universities, or decades of professional experience.

Read the full article about funding local solutions by Alejandra García Muñiz, Denise Raquel Dunning and Josie Ramos at Alliance Magazine.