Foundation Building Best Practice
Building Bridges Across Sectors
This is an excerpt from the Foundation Building Sourcebook: A Practitioners Guide Based on Experience in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The Sourcebook was written by A. Scott DuPree and David Winder with Cristina Parnetti, Chandni Prasad and Shari Turitz.
This section returns to the issue of the leading role foundations can play in building bridges between civil society, government and the business sector. Some of the experiences described influenced national policy while others produced impact at the local level.
- Example 1: Enhancing Individual and Corporate Social Responsibility
Esquel Ecuador Foundation
- Example 2: A Multi-Sectoral Commission to Reform Middle School Education
Puerto Rico Community Foundation
- Example 3: Fostering Partnerships for the Environment
Foundation for the Philippine Environment
- Example 4: Exercising a Leadership Role in Partnership Building
Children and Youth Foundation of the Philippines
What Roles Can Foundations Play in Building Bridges Across Sectors?
- Convening people working on similar issues both within and across sectors by sponsoring meetings, workshops, working groups and other fora
- Building partnerships -- relationships between individuals or groups around cooperation and responsibility to achieve a mutual goal -- that will result in a greater impact against a social or economic goal.
Building Bridges Between Civil Society and Government
In most of the cases in this section, the foundations sought to bring government agencies at the local and national level into communication with organizations from civil society. As in many instances, government and civil society are both trying to deal with some of the same social and economic issues; collaboration can bring new ideas and proposals into the policy arena and can empower civil society organizations with new information and resources. Both sides benefit in the long run.
The Examples of the two Philippine foundations show that foundations can play a role in getting independent civil society organizations a seat at the table. Some elements that facilitated their role in building bridges to government were:
- Good contacts with key influential officials who have an expressed interest in collaboration with civil society
- Programmatic flexibility to take advantage of opportunities when they arise
- A track record of accomplishments in tackling social issues
- Resources to invest in processes that involve risks and may take considerable time to bear results
Building Bridges Between Civil Society and Business
Experience shows foundations can play a critical role in reaching out to the private sector and enabling businesses and entrepreneurs to play a more effective role in tackling pressing social issues. Foundations, like the Philippine Business for Social Progress, that were created by the business sector have an advantage, of course. Other foundations without business origins face a bigger challenge in developing partnerships with that sector.
The experience of three non-corporate foundations -- Esquel Ecuador Foundation (FEE), Puerto Rico Community Foundation (PRCF) and Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) -- that have engaged the corporate sector in partnerships is discussed in this section. Another case is the Children and Youth Foundation of the Philippines (CYFP), which has promoted partnerships around the needs of children and youth at both the national and local levels.
These Examples show that bridges between sectors were built at many levels where they did not previously exist. These connections, in turn, leverage new resources, create new policy initiatives, and improve the sharing of information and skills. Foundations are able to take risks where other institutions, particularly government institutions, may be more constrained. The building of partnerships requires foundations' best efforts to facilitate shared objectives and purpose.