In 2014-2015, Well Grounded partnered with Maliasili Initiatives to undertake participatory research, to better understand the key challenges and opportunities for African civil society organisations (CSOs) in relation to organisation development (OD). This resulted in a final report that outlines key issues and recommendations, published in mid-2015: Strengthening African CSOs for Improved Natural Resource Governance & Conservation
That same year, with support from Right and Resources Initiative, Well Grounded and Maliasili co-organised two peer learning sessions with some of our client CSOs (and some CSOs from Eastern and Southern Africa) to disseminate the analysis and results of the research and to get their feedback on priorities for next steps: one in Dakar, Senegal (May 2015) and another in Nairobi, Kenya (July 2015).
One of the key issues raised in the research and during the peer learning sessions was around funding: both in that there tends to be a lack of direct funding opportunities for African CSOs, and when funding is available, donor requirements in terms of managing and reporting on grants pose a significant challenge; and in that alternative financing options that could allow African CSOs to be more autonomous have not been explored.
Well Grounded therefore targets donors active in the region to promote direct funding opportunities for African CSOs and to surface key shortcomings in current funding models, and to offer concrete recommendations on how to improve them. The type of funding models that we want to promote include those that are: focused on organisations and not projects; long-term, not short term; and those that allow organisations to invest in themselves. This involves encouraging donors to invest more money in the OD of African CSOs. Finally, Well Grounded explores alternative funding models with our client CSOs with the aim of reducing their dependency on outside donors in the long-term.
The objective is to work with CSOs and donors to improve access to relevant funding opportunities for African CSOs (ex. direct financing; long-term grants; core and OD support alongside programmatic support; ‘alternative income streams;’ etc.)
As a first step, Well Grounded and Maliasili Initiatives collaborated in 2017 to undertake research on alternative financing options for African CSOs so that they are less dependent on donor funding. This research will be a basis for Well Grounded to support our CSO clients in thinking through self-financing options for increased financial sustainability and autonomy.
Well Grounded has also started to convene meetings to bring together environmental donors and other relevant actors in Europe and Central Africa to surface and discuss funding challenges and possible solutions for African CSOs.