Innovative Financing to Ending FGM

Working in partnership: a strategy for raising more funds


Organisations promoting the rights of girls and women are underfunded, but not only that. Current crises, such as COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, do not help tackle the challenges faced by these organisations. In a context of global crises, where traditional forms of development aid and institutional grants are in high demand, innovative or alternative funding is emerging as a complementary solution to generate sustainable sources of funding for the SDGs. These sustainable funds will make it possible to measure the real impact of programmes and actions in the field over the long term. One of the forms in which this new funding is articulated is partnership. Since the purpose of this innovative funding is solidarity, collaboration between organisations is a completely natural strategy for mobilising funds. 

We have noticed that one of the factors that makes it difficult for organisations working on the eradication of FGM to access funding is their modest size (small and medium-sized organisations with limited human resources, etc.). As a result, it is the bigger international and national organisations that usually meet the requirements and thus can benefit from the subsidies of donors.

To avoid competition between small, medium and big organisations in the fundraising process, an innovative strategy would be to combine the efforts of these actors despite their size. Working in groups, partnerships or consortium, … is considered to be an excellent way to mutually strengthen capacities, pool resources, mobilise more funds and support each other in large-scale projects for the eradication of FGM is one of the solutions to fill the organisational gaps faced by small organisations. Working in consortium, collaboration, and partnership between organisations of different sizes (large, medium and small) not only allows us to join strengths and fill each other’s gaps, but above all, it ensures that no effort is left on the sidelines of the field.

The strengths of partnership working between actors in the field

  • Working in partnerships between several actors is a winning strategy and reflects the interest in linking organisations and is strongly encouraged by donors. In fact, in recent years, we have seen the development of global issues and a universal agenda around FGM, which has led to the building of common objectives between actors at local, national and international levels. This configuration thus allows actors to work together as actors of change.
  • Working in partnership is a requirement that is increasingly expected by donors. In several countries, public and private funding is increasingly attentive to requests for funding made by several actors in the field around a project. Public and private donors are focusing more and more on collective dynamics within civil society. This reflects the growing need for them to be “connected” (particularly through new information and communication tools) and places partnerships at the centre of organisations’ strategies. In Belgium, for example, public funders (the government) are increasingly inviting organisations to work in collectives (minimum of 3 organisations per collective). The creation of collectives aims to pool the expertise of the civil society sector. These collectives are invited to design a 5-year action plan with the objective of responding to one or more national priorities on the issue of women’s rights such as FGM and early forced marriages for example.
  • The partnership between actors on the ground allows for capacity building and much more.

“Capacity building” and “partnership” are not the same thing, although capacity building is often at the heart of partnership objectives. The objective of capacity building is usually the autonomy of the partner and the objective of partnership is usually the development of a reciprocal relationship. The role of capacity builder should therefore not be allowed to affect the partnership relationship. To avoid this tension, some NGOs propose collaboration based on reciprocity. To avoid this tension, some NGOs propose collaboration based on reciprocity. The challenge is therefore to know how to establish this reciprocity.

Several approaches and warnings are proposed today. NGOs often report that partnership relations remain unequal in terms of access to financial resources, the definition of roles and responsibilities, the construction of projects, the sharing of expertise, etc. One of the fundamental reasons for this unequal relationship is the position of contractual leader, which can reinforce the ‘leading organisation’ of the consortium, a partnership that allows little opportunity for co-building that can fully include the experience of local organisations and their knowledge of the needs and aspirations of communities (Coordination Sud, 2017).

This unequal partnership relationship can also be seen in the nature of the discussions between the ‘leading organisation’ of the partnership or consortium (which is often the largest in terms of size, resources, etc.) and its partners.

The challenge facing the actors in the field is therefore to succeed in expressing their own expectations and constraints to the partners. More generally, it is a question of reconsidering this contractual relationship in order to better create a spirit of participation co-construction and collective implementation. Actors in the field who carry out field actions on FGM could set up mutually beneficial forms of collaboration in order to achieve a long-term impact.

  • Partnership between field actors goes beyond the project framework and the project timeframe

As mentioned above, partnership or consortium work is increasingly becoming an important aspect of institutional strategies, as seen in the case of Belgium above. Partnership work seeks to go beyond the idea of a “project”. It is in this sense that partnership work between different actors becomes “strategic”. From this point of view, partnership would reflect the evolution of intervention practices of actors in the field who carry out actions on FGM, towards longer interventions with more significant objectives of influence and social change (Coordination Sud, 2017).

  • Working in partnership as a strategy for increasing the mobilisation of funds from donors

The transition to a more collective partnership approach makes it possible to recognise the complementary roles of a diversity of actors, on the same thematic issue such as FGM for example, or on the same territory, and to collectively identify the responsibilities of each one in order to bring about social change together. Such an approach is therefore often the expression of an ambition for more global and sustainable change to which several donors and sponsors, especially the private sector, foundations and individuals, subscribe and invest. This strategy of partnership and fundraising with the private sector and cooperation with the private sector, foundations and individuals in favour of achieving the objective of eradicating FGM is being applied in other sectors, such as the World Food Programme, whose strategy could inspire actors on the ground working to ending FGM.

Collaboration between big and small organisations thus seems to build a strong approach to raise other sources of funding to which actors on the ground working to end FGM can relate. These include the private sector, private foundations and individuals.

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