Partnerships need not be built into philanthropic initiatives from the outset of the planning stage, nor do they necessarily last through the end of an initiative. Rather, they may arise later, during implementation, evaluation of results, or in the process of promoting sustainability. These stages may or may not be entirely distinct, and stakeholders may or may not recognize them as concrete steps in the initiative. Still, each stage presents opportunities as well as challenges for building or sustaining interaction or collaboration between funders.
Key Findings from This Chapter
After planning an initiative, further opportunities for interaction or partnership may arise in the implementation, evaluation, and sustainability stages. Case studies suggested that federal agencies and foundations should reflect on the following issues as they roll out initiatives and consider partnerships:
- Implementation Phase: Shared funding can help to streamline processes but may not be feasible. To support the pooling of funds, and shared implementation more generally, funders need to recognize the constraints under which other stakeholders operatein particular reporting and accountability requirements, which can differ greatly across organizations and sectors. Support for the interaction or partnership is a necessary and sometimes underappreciated requirement. Even when partnerships begin with minimal administrative or governance needs, they tend to become more complex over time and require dedicated resources.
- Evaluation Phase: Attention to the conceptualization of change at different levels can support mutual understanding among USG and foundation actors. Government tends to work in the arena of measurable, individual-level change, whereas foundations often seek more abstract systemic change. For successful partnership efforts that involve evaluation, it is necessary for stakeholders to agree on what constitutes acceptable evidence and how best to obtain it. Foundations and USG often have very different expectations in this realm.
- Planning for Sustainability: In general, sustainability may be built into an initiative or it may rely on external actors. Either way, foundations and the federal government often play different roles in sustaining initiativeswith foundations tending to plant seeds and government tending toward long-term cultivation.