Maximizing the Value of Philanthropic Efforts through Planned Partnerships between the U.S. Government and Private Foundations. C. Interaction with Foundations


MCCs organizational structure includes a unit dedicated to multilateral and donor relations, which seeks to engage NGOs, foundations, and other private sector entities. Dovetailing with MCC work can, in the view of its staff, allow other donors to increase the impact of their own efforts and funds, and participate in a systematic development initiative. When funding infrastructure projects, for example, MCC may encourage MCAs to look for business or philanthropic opportunities to leverage the improved infrastructure to accelerate economic growth or well-being. Occasionally funds from other donors allow MCC to increase outputs (for example, the number of individuals served by a compact project), or to finish a project that otherwise would have run out of money (typically due to fluctuating value of currencies). One MCC respondent noted that while foundations typically have more limited resources than MCC, they have more flexibility and can take risks that the MCC (because of statutory requirements) and other bilateral and multilateral donors cannot.

Despite the potential advantages of working with foundations, MCCs partnership efforts have focused more on the private, for-profit sector, rather than foundations. A respondent involved in partnership development identified a few key barriers to partnerships, such as differences in organizations timelines, rules and regulations, and funding structures, which could apply to foundations as well as to businesses and other governments. For instance, the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) wanted to fund teachers in schools MCC had constructed, but because DFID grants are given as overall budget supportrather than tied specifically to an item such as teacher salariesthe organization could not compel the recipient government to use its support to fund teachers salaries. Another perceived barrier to partnerships is that MCC and other donors are hesitant to fund projects jointly because each organization wants to be able to document the outcome of its own investment. Some donors have overcome this barrier by agreeing to fund clearly delineated parts of the same project.

Compact countries also work with external organizations as part of their compact development process. For example, in-country MCAs often enter into agreements with other philanthropic groups, such as the humanitarian organization CARE. Many of these agreements simply minimize redundant or conflicting efforts between programs, but others foster active collaboration. Once MCCs investment is made, private-sector organizations and some nonprofits may become actively engaged in the procurement process as bidders on contracts to provide materials and/or services. Procurement is implemented and administered by the MCA within the compact country.

MCC also engages with the for-profit sector. It encourages investment not only from corporate foundations (or their social responsibility arms), it also tries to make the case that its selection criteria identify countries ripe with opportunities for private investment. MCC has developed a toolkit to encourage private sector investment. In late 2007, MCC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Microsoft and U.S. government agencies to promote international development in areas such as economic growth, health, governance, and education (MCC 2007). MCC has also worked with entities such as the Business Council for International Understanding, the Corporate Council on Africa, and the Business Council for Capacity Building to hold investment and procurement forums.

Perhaps MCCs most significant formal partnership with a foundation is through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an initiative with significant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. MCC originally reached out to the Gates Foundation as it was becoming involved in agricultural initiatives. MCC and AGRA signed an MOU, agreeing to engage in policy dialogue and coordinated implementation planning in four African countries. As they develop compacts, the recipient country and MCC draw on AGRAs on-the-ground technical expertise in the region to identify problems and solutions that best align with MCCs growth-oriented approach.

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