Maximizing the Value of Philanthropic Efforts through Planned Partnerships between the U.S. Government and Private Foundations. B. COMPLEMENTARY ACTIVITY


The spectrum of complementary interactions between USG and foundations is broad, and there is variability in the order of the respective sectors entry into the field. The dimensions previously discussed for their salience to the shape of USG-foundation interactionscommunication, resources, organizational priorities, and decision-makingalso are more significant to complementary interactions than to supplementary activities.

1. Communication

Among the models of complementary activities, the communication model (what Benedict [2003b] describes as affinity groups) occupies the lower or less intense end of USG-foundation interaction. Here, organizations from both sectors communicate about an issue, but are not involved directly in addressing the problem together. Such interactions typically see an agency or foundation acting in a convening role, bringing stakeholders together to discuss the problem and potential avenues toward solutions. The Clinton Global Initiative is a prominent example of a foundation bringing together stakeholders rather than directly implementing projects. As the foundations website describes it, the Clinton Global Initiative facilitates cross-sector partnerships that, in turn, create and carry out projects of their own choosing. Clinton Global Initiative participants may come from USG and other governments, foundations, for- and nonprofit organizations, universities, or NGOs.

2. Coordination

Moving toward more intense USG-foundation interaction, the coordination model (described by Benedict [2003b] as federations) occupies the middle part of the spectrum of complementary activities. An example of such deliberate alignment of resources with separate decision-making structures can be seen in the West African Seed Alliance. A public-private (for-and nonprofit) partnership, the West African Seed Alliances goals are the development of affordable, high-quality seeds for use by small farmers and the development of business networks to support access to such seeds across five West African nations. As part of its Global Development Alliance, USAID has partnered with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA web site) on this five-year initiative. AGRA itself is probably more aptly described as a fully collaborative effort (comparable to those detailed below), at least with respect to the founding organizations, which include the Gates and Rockefeller foundations, as well as the five West African governments in the Alliance. With respect to USG involvement with the Bill and Melinda Gates and Rockefeller foundations via AGRA, however, the relationship is probably more accurately understood as a coordination of efforts. While the broader AGRA initiative has received hundreds of millions of dollars from the foundations, the West African Seed Alliances resources will total just $61 million over five years, with USAID committing $6.1 million. USAIDs role is very limited, relative to Gates and Rockefeller, with the agency responsible primarily for technical and policy decisions directly affecting the roll-out and implementation of the Alliances activities on the ground in Africa. The foundations, on the other hand, set the broad AGRA agenda and determine how the West African Seed Alliance fits into it.

In contrast to AGRA, USG agencies are taking the lead in the multibillion dollar Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative. Several of the largest and most influential foundations are also heavily invested in HIV/AIDS initiatives. For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has allocated significant funding to the search for an HIV vaccine. PEPFAR, on the other hand, provides funding for increased antiretroviral treatments, as well as prevention efforts. Some of this work is coordinated through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, but USG and foundation strategies still are developed and pursued independently.

3. Collaboration

The West African Water Initiative is a good example of this next and highest level along the continuum of USG-foundation interaction. The Initiative is a 13-member partnership primarily funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and USAID. The partnership, founded in 2002, addresses issues of safe and adequate water supply, good sanitation, and improved hygiene in Ghana, Mali, and Niger. The West African Water Initiative views itself as a potential model for future collaborations between the public and private sectors. It is a particularly interesting example because the partnership has engaged in decision-making processes that deliberately reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the collaboration, prompting periodic changes to improve the effectiveness of the partnership. Hilton has committed more than $19 million to the Initiative over 6 years, while USAID investment is about $6 million over four years. Other partner contributions total $18 million.

Initially the West African Water Initiative was a loose partnership that avoided building a new organizational structure to oversee the collaboration. With time, however, the Initiative has added more governance structures to facilitate collective action and ensure that the partnership produces results that are greater than the sum of the individual Partner effort (Doyle and Corliss 2006, p. 2). While the West African Water Initiative has not become a grantmaking body (grants are still distributed separately by the Hilton Foundation and USAID), there is now a greater emphasis on collective action.

While the independence of both public and private actors is preserved in the West African Water Initiative partnership, other public-private collaborations involve the creation of a new entity with decision-making and funding authority. This is true of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI Alliance), a large partnership effort to increase access to immunizations in the developing world. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a founding partner of the GAVI Alliance, but the Alliance also receives significant funding from USG, as well as the governments of other developed nations. The GAVI Alliance follows the partnership model, where donors pool resources, with the Alliance itself governing the project and allocating funds. This partnership model ensures a unified approach, but individual donors do sacrifice autonomy.

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