Maximizing the Value of Philanthropic Efforts through Planned Partnerships between the U.S. Government and Private Foundations. V. IMPLICATIONS FOR POTENTIAL CASE STUDIES


Systematic, in-depth analysis of cases from the public and private philanthropic spheres will improve understanding of the challenges to coordination organizations face and the practices they use to overcome them in health and social services initiatives in the U.S. and around the world. The studys next task is to identify potential case studies and recommend those for selection. Here we suggest issues of focus for the case studies that will influence the selection of specific cases, and the structure of the case studies.

The broad findings and specific examples of USG-foundation interactions presented here, coupled with the conceptual framework discussed previously, suggest that much can be learned from a more detailed examination of different initiatives and various models of interaction. As noted, the study team is developing a database of USG agencies and private foundations engaging in philanthropic initiatives, as well as a database of the initiatives. In considering potential case studies, the research team is examining organizations and initiatives with respect to the various elements presented in Figure IV.1. Organizations and initiatives that exhibit innovative approaches toward any of these elements are of special interest.

Examining specific philanthropic initiatives could be a fruitful way to understand how foundations and USG make decisions about the concrete matters before them. For that reason, it would be useful to select cases that are far enough along in their life cycle to provide information on at least three of the five stages presented in Figure IV.1. Launching an initiative requires organizations to define the scope of the problem and consider their approaches. Both the decision to interact with other institutions and the decision to act independently will be important to consider in our case study analysis. It will be helpful as well to examine the perceived incentives and disincentives to partnering, as well as the roles of different stakeholders (for example, intermediaries) in forming partnerships. Following the life cycle of an initiative can highlight innovative approaches applied at any stage in its development, potentially shedding light on the adaptability of the strategic approach to other organizations and/or other circumstances. Case studies can also address whether organizations are planning for an initiatives conclusion by considering issues of withdrawal strategies and sustainability.

Case studies may also be selected to illustrate and explore the typology of public-private interaction presented above. Examples of both supplementary and complementary efforts by USG and foundations could reveal some of the practical considerations involved in the different types of interaction and may serve to illuminate the circumstances under which a given model might be most appropriate. Since complementary interactions cover a broad spectrum of activities, from communication to collaboration, we will attempt to include case studies with varying levels of interaction.

At every level of interaction and throughout the life cycle of an initiative, it will be helpful to consider the four key dimensions that determine the shape of the relationship: the level of communication between partners, the commitment of resources by each partner, the organizational priority that each partner places on the initiative, and the ways decision-making is distributed. The case studies will seek to elucidate some of the strengths and weaknesses of different partnership models, and perhaps suggest where different models of cooperation may be the most effective by considering organizations and initiatives across the continuum of USG-foundation interactions.

In addition to the issues presented in Figure IV.1, the case studies will be designed to gather information on issues revealed through the literature review as critical for the success of philanthropic endeavors. For instance, case studies can examine the ways in which funding organizations seek to encourage recipient buy-in and local ownership. They can also investigate the use of technology and an organizations consideration of the scale of an intervention and its potential for broad impacts.

This review highlights other aspects of successful interventions that often challenge funding organizations, such as adequate measurement, reliable funding, fragmentation, transparency and accountability, and the need for impact evaluation. Impact evaluation plays a crucial role in understanding what works, yet outcome measurement is limited. The case studies will seek to investigate the limitations that prevent more impact analysis and highlight funding organizations that use an innovative approach to measurement and evaluation. The case studies can also gather information on the ways in which funding patterns influence perceptions and organizational practices. With the growth in the number of philanthropic actors, the potential for aid fragmentation increases. The case studies will explore how USG and foundation actors view such fragmentation, and explore their thinking about more integrated approaches to philanthropy. A final goal of the case studies should be to disentangle the challenges to transparency and accountability in philanthropic decision-making processes.

View full report


"report.pdf" (pdf, 1.78Mb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®