Partnerships between government and research organizations have increasingly emerged as a promising path for policymakers to expand their access to and use of evidence in policy, program, and budget decisions. In these partnerships, government officials and researchers co-define information needs and engage regularly to ensure that evidence is more relevant, trusted, and likely to be used.

Yet despite this potential, many such partnerships are created on an ad hoc basis, struggle to secure stakeholder participation due to competing incentives (such as different timescales for research and decision-making) and lack of sustainable infrastructure and support. Through our respective work developing innovative partnerships in North Carolina and building a funders’ network dedicated to expanding the potential for partnerships, we believe that the philanthropic sector is at an inflection point for supporting and scaling government-research partnerships. With investments and innovation, funders can move the needle on partnerships and ultimately increase the chances that research informs decision-making and strengthens outcomes across policy areas.

How can philanthropy support partnerships?

Efforts throughout the world reflect these opportunities for philanthropy. The Transforming Evidence Funders Network (TEFN), a global network of funders formed last year by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the William T. Grant Foundation focused on improving the use of evidence in policy and practice, works to support and scale these emerging partnerships in diverse settings, including building the necessary infrastructure and workforce. By sharing promising practices and lessons learned and engaging with partners in the field, such as OSP, this group has identified four ways that funders can move the needle on partnerships, detailed below.

Funders can support new or existing partnerships on specific topics.

Philanthropy can cultivate the enabling conditions for partnerships, including incentives that reward stakeholders for engagement.

Funders can reshape their own practices and align efforts.

Through partnerships, funders can create momentum toward diversity, equity, and inclusion in research and government institutions.

Read the full article about government-research partnerships by Angela Bednarek, Jenni Owen, and Alex Sileo at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.