What we do
Imagine a site for civil society organisations in developing countries where they can promote their work and connect directly with grant-makers: conecptually, a ‘LinkedIn’ for CSOs.
Our project is a curated online platform that champions the work of strong, yet overlooked, local organisations and offers grant-makers tools to alleviate the pain-points experienced with direct-democratic giving. We are building an ecosystem based on distributed agency, leveraging the knowledge and data of trusted peers and grassroots development networks in order to mitigate risks. We minimise the burdens of partnership creation, reward those who are most responsive to their community needs, and capture and share the knowledge and experience generated by all stakeholders in the ecosystem.
Rather than take a project-driven strategy practiced by existing platforms, our innovation lies in the development of tools that empower engagement that is mission-driven. We are creating an environment where decision-making is driven by an organisation’s credibility and accountability to its community rather than solely on its ability to meet donor expectations.
This project represents the first step in a mission to address the global inefficiencies in philanthropy and offer an avenue for equitable engagement guided by innovation and systems thinking. It is built on the fundamental premise that in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the current socioeconomic global climate, local civil society needs to be empowered in a more holistic and disruptive manner.
Our social impact
We believe that FieldWorks will achieve social impact in three key areas:
Empowering local community organisations: By offering philanthropic stakeholders a platform designed entirely around the empowerment of trusted grassroots civil society organisations, we tackle the challenges that consistently limit their ability to maximise the impact of their work. Shifting the narrative of engagement towards mission-driven support will stabilise funding fluctuations, allow for operational investments, and give organisations the ability to adopt longer-term social change strategies. All of these will ultimately strengthen the implementation of their work to the benefit of their communities.
Providing the right networking tools to the right people: The tools and functionalities of the platform will reduce the significant inefficiencies that both grant-making and grantee partners experience in seeking and forming trust-based relationships. Reducing the imbalance of power in these relationships results in operational efficiencies and that lead to greater social impact overall.
Sharing knowledge across a wider audience: Numerous reports have identified the lack of knowledge sharing and collaboration as a key limitation on the philanthropic sectors’ ability to achieve the social change it so desperately seeks. In a sector where publicly available philanthropic data is scarce, knowledge is often siloed and benefits only a tiny proportion of actors and stakeholders. Through our platform’s open model, we are capturing the knowledge and experiences of very diverse actors and opening tangible opportunities for collaboration across social, economic, and regional boundaries.
To date, local civil society organisations have been marginalised by the monopolisation of resources by their larger international brethren. FieldWorks aims to enhance direct democratic giving and actively contribute towards equalising partnerships between primarily western funders and local civil society organisations as they define and decide on the type of social change they need and want. We see our true innovation to be the potential to change the mindset of philanthropists when making international charitable contributions.
- The first relates to funding stability. Organisations with more diverse and regular donor portfolios are demonstrably better able to plan for and invest in key resourcing needs (whether in HR, capital/asset investment, capacity development, programmatic investment). Rapid contractions in funding cycles often leads to knowledge and staff loss which small organisations struggle to recover from. This in turn causes a cycle in which limited funds are spent on investing in human resources. We define a sustainable increase in funding in terms of an organisation’s access to diverse, multi-year, and/or unrestricted funds.
- The second relates to the costs of partnership development. Over 50% of foundations have no paid staff and take on average 9 months every year to establish new grantee partnerships. Conversely, a small NGO can lose up to 1,500 man-hours in application processes to secure one grant because approximately 75% of all grant applications are ineligible before or at the first reading. Time and money which can be better spent achieving impact, is lost. For some foundations this has resulted in having to shut down programmes due to the fact that due diligence costs represented too high a proportion of the overall grant-amount being awarded. Cost-savings on both funder and grantee sides can be reallocated to programmatic work which directly advances each stakeholders’ mission.