2017 Partnership Practitioners Forum Report

This year, it was our pleasure to host over 350 leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors at the Partnership Practitioners Forum at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 2017. Held during Global Partnerships Week (GPW), under the theme 17 in 17: Partnerships to Achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Forum was developed in partnership with the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Concordia, and PeaceTech Lab kicked off the annual week-long celebration in recognition of the critical role that cross-sector collaboration plays in advancing the SDGs globally.

We are pleased to share the 2017 Partnership Practitioners Forum Report which includes detailed session summaries and key takeaways from speakers and participants. Discussion topics focused on measuring partnership metrics, governance and legal issues, and negotiation in partnerships, while tailored sessions explored specific issue areas reflecting the SDGs, including human rights, economic opportunity, health, the environment, and infrastructure. The report also contains insights from stakeholders who shared best practices in the creation and implementation of cross-sector partnerships, recognizing the urgency of leveraging governments, civil society, and businesses to achieve capacity and scale in global development by 2030.

Working Together for Peace, Now More Than Ever

By Alliance for Peacebuilding

The challenges of our time require greater coordination and collaboration than ever before. Global conflicts are increasingly complex and persistent, and the international community’s ability to respond is diminished when we work in silos or at cross-purposes. The need for a coalition to address the pressing challenges of global conflict is exactly why the Alliance for Peacebuilding exists. The Alliance is a global network of over 100 organizations and 15,000 individuals working to advance sustainable peace and security worldwide, with members operating in 153 countries.

The Alliance recently co-hosted an event on “Partnering for Peace: Working Together on Goal 16” with one of our member organizations, PartnersGlobal. The event was part of Global Partnerships Week, and focused on building inclusive coalitions to achieve Goal 16 of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: promoting just, peaceful, and inclusive societies. Over thirty participants attended the interactive working group, including representatives of the State Department’s Office of Global Partnerships and Concordia, two of the hosts for Global Partnerships Week.

When asked why partnering for peace was so important, one attendee noted that “no one individual, organization or nation can afford to act alone” when dealing with these complex and urgent issues. And peace is certainly an urgent issue—over the past 15 years, political, criminal, interpersonal, and social violence has increased dramatically, along with a rise of terrorism and violent extremism. Over two billion people live in countries where development is negatively affected by fragility, conflict, and violence. In 2015 alone, violent conflict displaced over 65 million people and cost the world economy $13.6 trillion.

Reducing violent conflict is an enormous task, but not an impossible one, especially if we work together. Attendees shared strategies for reaching out to new partners in the pursuit of Goal 16, compared lessons learned from forming past partnerships, and identified new avenues for building coalitions around peace in the future. Here are some of the key takeaways from the discussion:

Charting the Course

In creating any partnership, there are several steps that need to occur. These are especially important when working in a complex context such as peacebuilding. The first stage in creating an effective partnership for peace is drafting a strategic plan that answers key questions about why partnering makes sense and how to go about it. Defining the vision is crucial—participants noted that the definition of “peace” is murky even within the field, and outside parties may have conflicting ideas about what that means. Creating a compelling case for peace will require using language that resonates with partners, and uses their frameworks for understanding the issue.

Connecting with New Partners

Reaching out and engaging with new partners can be daunting, so it’s important to come prepared with a good pitch that explains how they can play a role in building peace and why it matters to them. Participants noted that it can intimidating to reach out to “unusual” partners—organizations that are so far outside of the peacebuilding and development field that it’s difficult to convey shared interests and values. Sometimes partnerships can make turn sour, so it’s important to calculate the risks of partnering with the wrong people or organizations, and to have a clear sense of who you want to reach out to and why.

Convening the Parties

Getting people together can be a difficult task, especially if there’s no clear structure for communication and governance. It’s important to be clear with partners who is going to do what, and to consider the effect of power asymmetries and conflicting incentives in a partnership as potential barriers to success. Peacebuilding is about bridging divides, which is necessary in building effective partnerships as well. Participants noted, however, that sometimes a partnership needs a traumatic event to motivate the parties to move forward, and that good relations between partners does not always mean they will be successful in their endeavor.

Creating Shared Value

Once the partners begin working together, they need to make sure what they’re doing is conflict-sensitive and adheres to the Do No Harm principle. They also need to rigorously monitor their work and evaluate whether they are achieving their aims—for partnerships working to build peace, this might mean aligning their work to the indicators for Goal 16, such as “significantly reduce all forms of violence.” Participants noted that simply getting disparate sectors to come together for a peacebuilding initiative may be a metric of success, and that it might be useful for individuals from each organization to spend time learning about each other’s field or discipline to increase understanding between partners.

Communicating Success—or Failure

It’s crucial that the impact and effectiveness of a partnership for peace be communicated to all relevant stakeholders; even—and perhaps especially—if the results did not meet expectations. Selecting the right targets and distribution methods are important; participants noted that results need to be translatable, using language and frameworks that will resonate with each audience. Marketing the importance of peacebuilding needs to combine statistics with stories, achieving the right mix of evidence and emotional appeal.

Partnering for Peace

As an increasing number of organizations and individuals mobilize around the Sustainable Development Goals, the Alliance for Peacebuilding and its member organizations such as PartnersGlobal are making the case for the importance not only of Goal 16, but also Goal 17—creating partnerships to achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals.

To achieve impact at scale, governments, non-profits, and the business community must work together. These partnerships are already happening in a variety of ways with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals: the business community is rallying around the Goals through the Business for 2030, Impact2030, and Global Business Alliance for 2030 networks; the SDG Accelerator and Unreasonable Goals help incubate and scale up social enterprises that focus on the Goals; the United Nations has developed a partnerships platform for the Goals and Promoting Effective Partnering is providing tools and training to make the partnerships more effective; organizations like 17Goals, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and Aim2Flourish are providing global partnership opportunities around advocacy and education for the Goals; and the SDG Fund and Align17 are helping finance projects aimed at the Goals.

Join Us!

The Alliance for Peacebuilding and PartnersGlobal are at the vanguard of this movement, focusing specifically on creating partnerships for peace. We are actively engaging people, organizations, and governments to work on achieving Goal 16, building coalitions and providing resources to our partners who are making peaceful and prosperous societies a reality around the world. If you would like to join us in this effort, please email stone@allianceforpeacebuilding.org to learn more about how you can contribute.

How Can Cross-sector Partners Work to Share a Vision of Success?

By The Intersector Project

The business, government, and non-profit sectors — and indeed various entities within the sectors — have their own languages, cultures, and work practices. Diverse perspectives and expertise are key to creating value in collaboration and jointly achieving results on seemingly intractable problems, but this diversity can prove challenging when partners are pursuing shared goals in a consensus-oriented environment. Our Toolkit — consisting of 17 actions that practitioners can take together to help forge successful collaboration — is designed to assist practitioners in navigating those differences.

Partners encounter some of their first collective decision making in the collaboration’s journey when they work to Share a Vision of Success, one of the first tools in our Toolkit. Reaching agreement on a set of goals and ideal outcomes that clarify the mission and priorities of the collaboration is crucial, as it links stakeholders together and creates a mutual understanding of the benefits of success, setting the tone for the future of the collaboration.

A shared vision of success can be challenging to reach as collaboration partners are likely to come to the collaboration with their own organization- and sector-specific priorities and mandates. The most effective collaborations acknowledge and welcome these differences: While they can complicate the process of agreeing on a shared vision, they go hand-in-hand with the complementary resources and capabilities that cross-sector partners bring to the partnership. For example, government’s prioritization of the rule of law and providing public services accompanies its unique power of policy, significant reach, and ability to impact public opinion; the market approach of the business sector results in its considerable financial resources and expertise in product and service delivery; the social-benefit-orientation of non-profits contributes to its deep community- and issue-level knowledge, and perceptions of legitimacy.

When partners come together to build this vision of success, we recommend that they reflect on these questions:

  • What will we include in our vision of success (e.g. a description of the current situation, the activity or program we will launch, our target beneficiaries, our expected intermediate and final outcomes, etc.)?
  • What will we do when partners have differing visions of success? What will we do when partners agree on a vision but disagree on the means to achieve that vision?
  • How will we manage tensions between partners’ individual organizational goals and the goals of the collaboration?
  • How will we document our shared vision of success?
  • Are we open to shifting our vision of success as the collaboration progresses? If so, what will be our process for revisiting it?

How should partners go about building this shared vision? First, they can consult the “Mapping the Collaborative Journey” discussion in Evaluating Collaboratives: Reaching the Potential, a comprehensive resource for evaluating multi-stakeholder processes from the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension. This resource walks collaboration partners through the process of creating a logic model, or “logically linked sequence of change,” that articulates a relationship between the collaboration’s work and the results and impact it hopes to achieve (found on pages 22-30). The authors of this tool point out that conversations to design a logic model often unearth “differences in perceptions and ideas about expected outcomes, procedures, and philosophies,” providing a platform to welcome and consider partners’ differing priorities and work toward consensus.

Partners can also consult “The Objective Assessment” in the Partnership Development Toolkit, a guide from the European Commission for facilitators of EQUAL Development Partnerships (but easily adaptable to partners in a wide variety of issue areas). This resource guides partners through an exercise to jointly identify desired outcomes related to a problem they wish to address (found in Section 2.2: Problem and Objective Assessment on pages 17-22). The assessment also guides partners through establishing a cause-to-effect hierarchy and a dot-voting process for prioritizing approaches to the shared vision of success. The dot-voting process can help illuminate the potentially disparate priorities of partners, and further discussion can help reveal the criteria participants used to cast their vote and guide discussion to achieve consensus.

“Conversation for Generating Possibility” and “Conversation for Generating Opportunity” in The Partnering Toolbook, a comprehensive guide to partnering across sectors from The Partnering Initiative, presents an imaginative brainstorming exercise encouraging all partners to envisage potential “breakthrough” outcomes for their collaboration and ultimately to agree on the collaboration’s shared commitment to pursuing a realistically achievable possibility (found on page 49). This exercise is designed to take from 30 minutes to just over an hour.

In some cases, it will be clear how the collaboration’s goals align with each partner’s organizational goals. In other cases, partners may consider more subtle ways that the collaboration’s vision is complementary to, or incompatible with, their own work, including assessing how the collaboration’s targeted outcomes support their own, even if the alignment is not explicit (e.g. the organization’s aim is to decrease childhood obesity, while the collaboration’s aim is to build a community farmer’s market); considering how successful collaboration outcomes may support their organization’s understanding of the issue; and evaluating whether contributions to the collaboration create tension with other organizational commitments. As the collaboration works to develop its shared vision of success, partners should be encouraged to communicate their differing priorities openly and honestly, so that the collaboration can surface areas of shared agreement and mutual benefit, building a solid foundation for its work.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: The Risk-Return Tradeoff in Public-Private Partnerships

By Maggie Morse, Associate Director, University of Virginia Darden School of Business Institute for Business in Society and Mary Margaret Frank, Associate Professor of Business Administration, University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The global societal issues that we face today are often too challenging and risk-laden for one organization to address alone. Public-private partnerships and other multi-sector collaborations have emerged as agents of innovative solutions that bring together and leverage the expertise of stakeholders to address societal challenges in ways that could not be achieved by any one of these sectors alone.

However, with innovation and collaboration comes risk. So recognizing and mitigating the risks involved in these partnerships is critical in influencing how successful they are.

People use a common financial concept known as the risk-return tradeoff to make everyday decisions. How fast should I drive to reach my destination? How should I allocate my money to provide for retirement? Typically, people will weigh their options and choose the one with the lowest possible risk for the highest possible return. While people want a higher return for the risk taken, every person has different incentives and preferences that influence the risk they are willing to take.

This risk-return tradeoff also applies to public-private partnerships. For example, the benefits of having partners to provide essential expertise and resources must be weighed against the risk of bringing together multiple stakeholders from different sectors that do not typically work with each other. Conducting sufficient due diligence to understand the benefits and risks introduced by each partner allows the parties to structure the partnership to mitigate risks or allocate them to those most capable and willing to bear them. The partnership structure can be an important determining factor of the success, or failure, of the project. If the allocation of risk and return is misaligned, a lack of commitment and trust among the partners could result.

One model of a well-structured partnership is Project Nurture, the winner of the 2016 P3 Impact Award, an award created by the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Institute for Business in Society, Concordia, and the U.S. Department of State’s Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships to recognize public-private partnerships that are improving our world in the most impactful of ways.

The Project Nurture partnership brought together three organizations with unique objectives to achieve a mutual goal: to create new, sustainable market opportunities for local small-scale fruit farmers in East Africa. The Coca Cola Company needed a reliable source of locally-grown fruit to satisfy a growing demand for fruit juice in Africa; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sought to increase the income of small scale farmers to overcome poverty and hunger; and TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization, wanted to support small-scale farmers in developing countries by connecting them with capital and markets.

The partnership was structured so the risks and returns of the project were properly aligned with each partner’s objectives, as well as the end goal. For example, Coca-Cola faced greater risk by investing in a new project with uncertain financial returns; however, if the project succeeded, there would be financial and social returns for all of the partners. Recognizing that Coca-Cola, as the buyer of fruit, was critical to success, the partnership was structured to compensate for the greater risk by properly allocating the financial returns to align with Coca Cola’s incentives. Ultimately, the partnership achieved its goal of creating new market opportunities for local farmers whose fruit was used for Coca-Cola’s locally-produced and sold fruit juices.

The ideal public-private partnership creates a win-win situation for all partners, but that does not mean it is without risk. By recognizing all individual and collective risks, and allocating them appropriately trust is earned, benefits are shared, objectives are met, and as a result, the partners, the partnership and society all win.

Partnering for a Better Future: How PPPs are advancing the SDGs

Happy Global Partnerships Week! To kick off #GPW2017 today, the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships is pleased to release its annual State of Global Partnerships Report. We called on our colleagues at the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to share the partnerships they have recently built and implemented to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Report highlights 17 partnerships, one for each SDG, and showcases how the U.S. government is leveraging the resources, knowledge, and experiences of private sector partners to tackle the SDGs.

Eliminating global poverty and hunger, creating decent jobs and economic growth, strengthening institutions and combatting corruption: these are just a few of the ambitious goals that 193 countries agreed to target by the year 2030. The SDGs represent a global commitment to a better future that cannot be achieved in isolation. Indeed, no single country, government, or organization can hope to achieve these goals alone. There’s a reason why the final goal – Goal 17 – aims to build partnerships between governments, the private sector, and civil society in support of this global agenda.

Partnerships help us do more. And to prove our point, here are a few examples from the recently released State of Global Partnerships Report 2017. These partnerships include both large, multi-stakeholder initiatives with many U.S. government agencies engaging a diversity of private sector partners and also more focused partnerships led by U.S. embassies in their host countries.

Taking on SDG #2 – Zero Hunger, Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. Through a thriving network of nearly 5,000 public-private partnerships between multiple U.S. government agencies and private companies of all sizes, Feed the Future aims to build long-term food security and to stimulate sustained economic growth both domestically and abroad. In addition to creating thousands of new partnerships, Feed the Future has leveraged more than $600 million in private sector capital and helped generate more than $800 million in new agricultural sales for farmers.

Advancing SDG #15 – Life on Land, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs partnered to address the problem of international wildlife trafficking. The Department of State collaborated with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to plan the first Zoohackathon – a weekend-long event where teams of citizen scientists and volunteer technologists gathered to develop technological solutions to help combat wildlife trafficking. On October 7-9, 2016, teams of volunteers met at six renowned conservation zoos around the world to work on problem statement submitted by leading conservation groups and to interact directly with the animals they were working to preserve. In addition to raising awareness around wildlife trafficking, the inaugural event produced 30 new conversation technology products and even fostered new partnerships between participating partners. Similar events will occur annually.

Bringing awareness to SDG #12 – Responsible Consumption and Production, U.S. Embassy Copenhagen partnered with National Aquarium Denmark and the NGO “Plastic Change” to produce a public education exhibition on ocean pollution: Mitigating Plastic Pollution of the Ocean. With the support of the U.S. Embassies and the host governments, the exhibit will travel to Estonia, Portugal, Italy, and Malta in advance of the 2017 EU-hosted Our Ocean conference in Malta. This collaboration between U.S. Embassies and European partners creates public awareness around marine pollution and strengthens U.S. strategic alignment with the EU on environment and health issues.

Finally, we are pleased to announce the winners of the second annual Partnership Excellence Award, which recognizes individuals who have made a strong commitment to the advancement of public-private partnerships at the Department of State or USAID. First, we honor Ambassador-at-Large Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, and Lauren Marks, Director of Private Sector Engagement at the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, for their leadership of the DREAMS partnership and DREAMS Innovation Challenge. The second individual winner is Terence Miller, Chief of the Office of Alternative Development at USAID/Peru, for his integral work on the Peru Cacao Alliance. Finally, we are presenting a group award to Nicole Johnson, Embassy Tallin; Margaret Young, Embassy Lisbon; Megan R. Ihrie, Embassy Libson; Susan Ross, Embassy Valletta; Caron E. De Mars, Embassy Rome; and Kristian (KG) Moore, Embassy Copenhagen for their success with the Mitigating Plastic Pollution of the Oceans exhibit.

These are just several examples of the ingenuity, innovation, and impact of public-private partnerships to advance our common goals for a better future. To see more examples of this exciting work and to learn more about the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, please see the full 2017 State of Global Partnerships Report.

What is your favorite public-private partnership you’ve been involved in? Join the conversation on Twitter this week at #GPW2017 and #Goal17!

Thomas Debass is the Acting Special Representative for Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State where he continues to fulfill his Deputy Special Representative duties: managing the office and providing thought leadership on partnerships related to economic growth, global finance, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Partnership Practitioners for the Goals: Realizing Our Unique Role in Achieving the SDGs

By Matthew A. Swift Co-Founder, CEO & Chairman, Concordia

When the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were unveiled in 2015, they were designed to jumpstart international efforts in economic development, climate responsibility, and global prosperity. Since then, they have become a central focus of social impact organizations everywhere, and stakeholders around the world have embraced the mantra of doing good by doing well in accordance with these Global Goals. The public sector is leading the charge for sustainability, while private sector corporations are beginning to see the tremendous benefits of conducting sustainable business as consumers use power of the purse to support companies publicly committed to global development.

Ranging from economic empowerment and income inequality to water security, resilient infrastructure, and environmental conservation, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals address nearly every pressing issue facing global society today. Although Concordia has long been a proponent of all 17 Goals, one of the more unique goals in particular has taken on a life of its own around Concordia’s headquarters: Goal 17, affectionately dubbed “the Concordia goal” by our dedicated team. Goal 17 calls for “a revitalization of the global partnership for sustainable development,” effectively encompassing Concordia’s mission of building partnerships for social impact.

The reason Goal 17 is so important is that it offers a means of achievement for all 16 of the other SDGs. Of course, each goal demands specifically-tailored solutions and action-oriented innovation, but above all else, partnership is what is necessary to achieve the SDGs across the board. Going forward, the kind of transnational and cross-sector collaboration Goal 17 calls for will enable global society to realize the positive impact of a more sustainable, more interconnected world as outlined by the UN.

Global Partnerships Week (GPW) offer influencers, policymakers, and thought leaders from around the world the chance to develop the impactful partnerships so imperative to achieving the SDGs. Concordia, along with the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and PeaceTech Lab, are kicking off GPW 2017 by convening the third annual Partnerships Practitioners Forum. This day-long event, taking place today in Washington, D.C., brings together partnership practitioners and leaders from government, multilateral organizations, business, and civil society to engage in discussions on common challenges and best practices, identify new opportunities for collaboration, and create meaningful solutions to achieving the SDGs. Participation from the private sector is particularly encouraging, with leading companies – such as PWC, M&C Saatchi, BNY Mellon, NXP, HPE, Syngenta, AB InBev, Kellogg, and Unilever – understanding their unique role in helping to finance SDG implementation.

The sooner stakeholders can collaborate to share industry knowledge, mobilize resources, and encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in sustainable development, the closer we can get to achieving the SDGs by 2030. With Goal 17 serving as the overarching lynchpin to the entire sustainability agenda so masterfully crafted by the U.N., Concordia is proud to put it at the center of dialogue as we kick off GPW 2017.

Join the discussion using #GPW2017 and by tuning in live to watch the Partnership Practitioners Forum here.

This article originally appeared on Huffington Post.

Department of State Announces Global Partnerships Week 2017


Media Note

U.S. Department of State

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

March 3, 2017

The U.S. Department of State is proud to announce the launch of Global Partnerships Week 2017 (GPW) which runs March 6-12, 2017 and celebrates the critical role public-private partnerships (P3s) play in promoting diplomacy and development around the world. The week is an effort led by the Secretary's Office of Global PartnershipsU.S. Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Concordia, and PeaceTech Lab.

GPW kicks off on Monday, March 6, with a full-day Global Partnership Practitioners Forum, held at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, DC. This year, the forum focuses on engaging partnership practitioners and leaders from governments, multilateral organizations, civil society, and corporations to discuss the role of public-private partnerships (P3s) in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals. Notable speakers at the forum include Kathy Calvin, President & CEO of the UN Foundation; Thomas Debass, Acting Special Representative for Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State; Vikki Spruill, President of the Council on Foundations, and Lise Kingo, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.

The week also features self-organized events around the world, from large scale conferences and panels to intimate networking gatherings or webinars that will serve to illuminate existing collaborations, as well as potential partnership opportunities. A full list of events can be found here.

Additional information on GPW can be found at p3.co. Follow GPW on social media with #gpw2017, @GPatState@GlobalDevLab@ConcordiaSummit, and @PeaceTechLab.

For media inquiries, please contact Anita Ostrovsky at ostrovskya@state.gov.


Ask, Spark, Crowdsource

“Hey dad, what new books should I get?”

“Why don’t you post a status online asking your friends for their suggestions?”

8 minutes later: “Woah, Ben, Ally, and Nora all suggested the same book. It actually sounds really great. That’s the winner right there. Can I get it?”

…A post-holiday conversation I did not personally have with my daughter, but perhaps similar to one many of you may have had with your own sons and daughters: whether your kids were on a quest for a new book, or movie, or help on their math homework.

As dad to three daughters and Acting Special Representative to the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, I often find there are themes that are consistent throughout my day, no matter the setting. One of these themes centers on encouraging a crowd-sourcing mentality to find potential solutions for emerging questions or challenges. Whether I am at home with the kids on a Saturday afternoon or surrounded by colleagues on a Thursday morning in the office, I’m constantly learning from those around me and ever-cognizant and humbled that I may not have the perfect recommendation to my daughter’s hypothetical question on what she should add to her reading list (though like any good dad, I would, of course, have some recommendations ready to offer); nor do my colleagues and I alone hold the solutions to what we should do about the world’s most pressing diplomatic and development challenges.

However, other individuals, organizations, universities, and companies just might have the unique expertise and tools necessary to provide the right answers. I’ve come to realize—and hopefully my kids have started to as well—that raising the question or challenge out loud usually initiates a conversation. With a conversation sparked and each participant's strengths brought to the table, a solution may be well on its way. 

Within the State Department, we’ve embraced working with NGOs and the private sector to build partnerships that address diplomatic and development challenges. However, we’ve also become acutely aware that by including the public at large into the conversation fold, we’re more inclined to find innovative ideas and solutions that we in the USG and our partners may not have thought of otherwise. To better underscore the benefits of crowdsourcing, let’s bring Joy’s Law to the forefront: the management principle that no matter who you are, the smartest people won’t be working for you (as much as I appreciate my colleagues’ intelligence and daily hard work)! I’ve realized that once the competition opens up to others outside of my regular daily sphere, the floodgates open for un-traditional recommendations to start rolling in for how to best tackle whatever the issue at hand may be.

At this point, perhaps you’re thinking: “Okay, okay, I get it and I agree, but what tangible steps can I take to crowdsource solutions on a large scale?”

From our experience at the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, we’ve had luck with the following three model examples which are just a sampling of the various ways outside solutions can be obtained:

  1. Partnering with universities: engaging and garnering students’ novel and influential ideas on diplomacy, national security, and development by providing specific case studies for them to work on. See Diplomacy Lab.

  2. Setting up a hackathon “franchise” model: obtaining volunteer technologists’ tangible solutions by building a framework for a weekend-long global hackathon in multiple cities while giving each host site the flexibility to individually mold its hackathon. See Fishackathon.

  3. Creating a digital video challenge: asking filmmakers and the general public to submit short digital videos that address what democracy means to them, thereby raising a conversation and enabling the USG to better incorporate the public’s input into the USG’s missions. See Democracy Video Challenge.

We’ve also learned that these crowdsourcing mechanisms are more effective if you consider the following when crowdsourcing solutions:

  1. What—Keep your subject matter concrete. In order to increase your chances of receiving innovative and useful solutions from the public, ensure your problem statements are clear and focused on addressing a concrete set of issues.

  2. When/WhereCenter your crowdsourcing initiative on a specific day or event. Announce its launch or have it take place on a day or at an event that aligns with the specific subject area. For instance, if you’re seeking solutions for a matter that revolves around our armed forces, you’ll get more visibility and traction if you hold the event on Veterans Day (November 11) or at a Memorial Day event, on the last Monday of May.

  3. Who—Think about who your champions or high-level supporters may be and try to get them plugged into your cause. More visibility for all of you is a win-win. For example, we’re holding a #Goal17 Twitter Challenge in conjunction with Global Partnerships Week (March 6-12). Five tweets. Five days. A week of innovation, impact, and partnerships. The #Goal17 Twitter Challenge is meant to inspire and inform the public on how public-private partnerships (#P3s) are crucial to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Corporate, government, and civil society leaders (though the challenge is open to all) will compete for the top tweet of the day regarding their work on public-private partnerships and the SDGs. The challenge will run March 6-10, 2017 through Global Partnerships Week.

  • March 6 -- SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

  • March 7 -- SDG 5: Gender Equity

  • March 8 -- SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

  • March 9 -- SDG 4: Quality Education

  • March 10 -- SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

The event will take place on Twitter and will be amplified through #GPW2017 promotional sites. Winner gets bragging rights!

4. WhyIdentify and remember the reason for launching your crowd-sourcing endeavor. Are you seeking tangible, deliverable solutions for a problem (a solution-driven incentive)? Or, are you more concentrated on raising the profile of a specific issue, hoping to bring about conversation that could ultimately lead to the development of solutions (a public diplomacy-driven incentive)?

For a step-by-step guide on bringing a crowdsourcing project to life, check out: www.crowdsourcing-toolkit.sites.usa.gov.

Asking saves a lot of guesswork, and the right questions spark conversations that can lead to solutions.  

For more on the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, visit: https://www.state.gov/s/partnerships/index.htm

This article was first published by The Global Engagement Forum Online, via PYXERA Global: https://www.pyxeraglobal.org/ask-spark-crowdsource/

The Chemistry Between Us: Partnerships and the Power of Relationships

By Dave Prescott, Associate, The Partnering Initiative

Some magic quality emerges when people work in close sync with each other. We’ve all experienced the fellow feeling of being in a choir or band, a sports team or a friendship. It’s hard to explain what exactly this feeling is, or the importance of it: you have to experience it directly.

In the same way, a certain bond arises between the core people involved in any effective cross-sector partnership. This analysis of a South African water partnership refers to the central importance of the ‘chemistry’ of partnerships. According to the partnership manager Nick Tandi: “We need to get better at understanding this chemistry, and how to make it work quicker and at scale”.

While few would doubt that something like ‘team spirit’ or ‘harmony’ is an essential function of well-functioning social groups, the chemistry at the core of partnerships is often overlooked, it’s rarely actively cultivated, and it’s certainly never budgeted for.

The question is, can the art of collaborative relationship-building be learned, or is it something that naturally emerges between the personalities involved? Can the partnership chemistry be methodically established, or does it just emerge?

In TPI’s experience – and an important underlying principle of its partnership training - it seems as though a combination of luck and careful cultivation can be an essential ingredient here. While working in partnership comes naturally to some, a collaborative mindset can be consciously developed in other cases, and there are tools and methodologies that can be applied in order to fast-track the required chemistry.

At issue is more than simply the ability to network, though relationship-building skills are crucial. It also includes the development of active listening skills and strong empathy, the ability to negotiate, awareness of power relations, a certain tolerance of uncertainty and risk, and an interest in learning quickly.

Such so-called soft skills are often the hardest to define and discuss (at least, without descending quickly into abstraction), and therefore the easiest to overlook. They are also the most urgent to deploy when things go wrong. If you don’t have a large well of trust to draw from at crisis moments, partnerships can quickly unravel and people will revert to the safety of their organisational or disciplinary silos.

TPI is chairing a session on these ‘soft’ issues at the forthcoming Global Partnerships Week, as part of a focussed discussion on what makes for healthy, well-functioning partnerships. It will draw in part on TPI’s partnership healthcheck tool (see Tool 10 on page 39 of our Better Together guidebook), a field-tested process designed to tease out some of the more evasive interpersonal issues that can make or break partnerships.

In the end the search for partnership chemistry may come down to a mixture of intuition and experience. And just as the best way to learn to write a novel is to sit down and write that novel, so the best way to learn to cultivate partnership chemistry is to actually get stuck into a partnership. In the meantime, there is a great deal more that can be done to respond to Nick Tandi’s challenge to speed things along, not least by formally recognising the central role that these invisible bonds play in effective collaboration.

For further information on The Partnering Initiative please see our website or follow us on Twitter. Or contact us if you have any questions.

TPI will be running a 2.5 day training on Building Effective Partnerships for Development, in D.C., alongside Global Partnerships week, from March 8th to 10th. The training will also run in Oxford from May 15th to 18th. Find out more and register.

Delivering Inclusive Business for Sustainable Food Supply

Delivering Inclusive Business for Sustainable Food Supply

by TechnoServe

For millions of smallholder farmers across Africa, Asia and Latin America, commercial supply chains offer the potential for better, more stable livelihoods. Meanwhile, for many companies looking to do business in emerging markets, these farmers have the potential to be important suppliers or customers. And for a growing global population, improved smallholder productivity and connection to markets has the potential to satisfy our expanding need for food. In many cases, however, it has been difficult to turn this potential for a mutually beneficial relationship into action.

At TechnoServe, we worked with four companies on a series of projects that explored the specific obstacles to delivering business models inclusive of smallholder farmers and developed solutions to those challenges. We then developed public case studies to share lessons learned with other companies and stakeholders seeking to implement inclusive business models. While each company confronted challenges unique to its business and market, one recurring theme was the importance of identifying partners beyond the private sector to help effectively implement solutions.

To build on this finding and advance the conversation about engaging smallholders, Concordia and TechnoServe have organized an event, Delivering Inclusive Business for Sustainable Food Supply. Held as part of Global Partnerships Week, the forum will bring together representatives from leading companies, foundations and public-sector agencies to discuss how partnerships can help lead to more productive engagement with smallholders.

Learn more about the recent case studies published by TechnoServe in partnership with Coca-Cola and Kellogg.

As part of Global Partnerships Week 2017, TechnoServe will be hosting a Side Event in partnership with Concordia, Delivering Inclusive Business for Sustainable Food Supply, to explore avenues for inclusive business models.

To learn more, please contact Concordia's Director of Social Impact Hanne Dalmut, hdalmut@concordia.net.

Urban Technical Extension: Recognizing Needs in Our Own Backyard

Many students attending urban universities can go their entire academic career without getting to know their neighbors, leading to the formation of stigmas and cultural barriers for both parties. Drexel University, located in the designated promise zone of West Philadelphia, strives to reduce university-to-neighborhood boundaries by creating a more integrated experience for students and community members alike.

In the public-private partner landscape, universities have their own key role to play, with the ability to provide interdisciplinary expertise and technical skills to address problems which might otherwise fall through the gaps. At Drexel University, one of the nation’s premier research institutions, President John Fry has committed to creating “the most civically engaged university in the United States.” The question is, “How?”

We begin the process by asking questions: “What are the issues experienced on a day-to-day basis for you?” As respectful partners, it is the university’s first obligation to listen very carefully. From there, mitigating problems must be done hand in hand with those enduring them, thereby ensuring solutions are what the neighborhood truly wants and needs.

One route for constructive discourse and advancement is Urban Technical Extension (UTX), a part of Drexel’s new Peace Engineering Program, which uses the university’s resources in technological excellence to construct beneficial engineering solutions alongside Philadelphia nonprofits. Resulting innovations may take the form of new technologies, apps, or systems-level models and processes that can be readily applied to build capacity and address important neighborhood-level issues.

The pilot UTX project is in partnership with the People’s Emergency Center (PEC), a Community Development Corporation located just west of Drexel’s campus in Powelton Village. As an engineering student currently working full time to kickstart Peace Engineering, I am spending an hour each week attending the PEC’s general staff meetings to attain an understanding of the many facets of the organisation. The issue we have collectively decided to tackle is the point of service at the center’s weekly food cupboard.

Each Saturday morning around 8 AM a line forms outside the People’s Emergency Center’s doors, but distribution does not begin until 10:30 AM. One of the most notable parts of PEC’s food cupboard, however, is their commitment to excellent customer service. Volunteers walk alongside participants telling them about each item, any upcoming community events, and engaging in friendly conversation. Because of the way the organisation treats its customers, beneficiaries are usually willing to wait to receive food assistance.

A real problem occurs, however, on days of inclement weather. Whether it is snow, rain, or extreme temperatures, days with poor conditions force food cupboard attendees to make an unfair decision: should they sacrifice their physical comfort and safety or their food? Many times, the latter is chosen and the turnout on those days is much less than an average day. This is a lose-lose situation. Not only are community members not receiving food to eat and serve to their families, but the pantry, who distributes mainly fresh produce, will end the day overstocked with food that will not last to the next week.

By evaluating the real parameters (which admittedly were different than the parameters I would have assumed without my time spent listening to managers, volunteers, and participants), we decided on a technical response to alleviate this struggle. We are in the final stages of creating a web-based application that volunteers will use on tablets to take the orders of people in line before the doors open. Once the orders are received on the inside of the building, other volunteers will pack that person's bag with the items they selected and run it out to them. This way, participants will still get interpersonal contact and an option to choose what they would like, but the wait will be shortened greatly. Once this application is ready to run, a feedback-based iterative process will make sure the application fulfills its intended purpose.

Problems that seem to have objective answers at first glance become far more complicated once human elements are introduced. These complications are worth addressing. It is expected of engineers to face some of the world's most pressing issues, and I strongly believe reducing poverty, hunger, and inequality should also fall within our expected work.

There is a dire need for bridging the gap between peacebuilders, policymakers, and technologists to work together in reaching the sustainable development goals. We at Drexel hope that Peace Engineering and programs like Urban Technical Extension are the first step in that direction.

Bryce Peckman is a third year Environmental Engineering student at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She is currently working to implement the first ever Peace Engineering program, a shared project between Drexel University and PeaceTech Lab intended to train scholars with technical backgrounds to apply their skills towards peacebuilding efforts.

Public-Private Partnerships: Working toward Sustainability

Public-Private Partnerships: Working toward Sustainability

By: Center for Transformational Partnerships, USAID

At USAID, we know that ending extreme poverty and building resilient and democratic societies is impossible to achieve through the work of one organization alone. This is why partnering is at the center of our work, and we are continuously looking at innovative ways to collaborate across sectors while also improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our existing partnerships.

We know that working with the private sector, in particular, is critical to achieving our goals both as an Agency and the broader development community. Great ideas can come from everywhere and these types of engagements create innovative, cost-effective and results-oriented development approaches that enable us to accelerate and scale sustainable impact.

At USAID, we are looking at how we can better define this “value add” of partnering and working with the private sector. With limited research in the field, we are looking at how and why partnerships can improve our work - from the role of relationship health in improving development outcomes to the role of partnerships in driving sustainability. We recently joined forces with Dalberg Global Development Advisors to examine the enduring results of some of our partnerships with the private sector - long-term continuity of partnership activities, outcomes from a partnership, or development outcomes sustained or scaled as a result of private sector commitment. Though not a rigorous, scientific study, we looked at a set of USAID partnerships that ended in the same year, to better understand how the private sector’s involvement may have contributed to enduring results and whether our partners continue to make efforts to advance development objectives after a project ended.

The first part of a multi-year study, we were able to not only begin developing an important framework for studying this type of engagement, but also gleaned a number of insights around how cross-sector collaborations contribute to sustainability and recommendations for how we might select, design, implement and evaluate partnerships more effectively. Here are a few of our critical takeaways:

  1. Market-oriented partnerships - with market-oriented activities - have a higher likelihood of enduring than non-market-oriented partnerships. Of the partnerships we looked at, those designed around a core business opportunity for a profit-driven partner had a high likelihood of creating enduring results, more so than those engaging solely in CSR activities. So while we know there is an important place for CSR and philanthropic efforts, we also know that shared value partnerships can help us achieve lasting results.
  2. Not surprisingly, our work suggests that enduring results were linked to private sector partners contributing in an additive manner. When the private sector was not essential and did not generate “additionality,” partnership activities were less likely to endure, which is why we don’t partner simply for the sake of partnering but seek collaboration that advances our development objectives. More specifically, we found that as an asset, private sector relationships were most additive when used to create market linkages.
  3. Achieving policy change can be an effective way to drive scale and sustainability of a partnership, particularly when combining private sector assets with the capabilities of donors and host country governments. Of those partnerships we reviewed, those that achieved policy change demonstrated strong potential to both sustain and scale activities or outcomes, without requiring additional funding.
  4. Partnerships with corporations that have a strong local presence are more likely to have results that are financially self-sustaining. USAID has a long history of working with local firms, the dynamics of which we have explored in depth as we consider the value of working across sectors.

This work also revealed anecdotal evidence of positive spillover or indirect effects from our partnerships that may be significant but hard to quantify. For example, a specific partnership and the commercial viability of a company’s engagement in a development project may have raised attention and attracted other companies to invest in a traditionally underserved community.

These insights and findings support much of what we already believe. That partnerships are critical to our work and they can help us approach development challenges more effectively and efficiently with an eye toward sustainability and scale. Now, we must look to strengthen the understanding and expectations for sustainability and scale in partnerships - both internally and amongst our partners.

USAID is actively working to better understand how our cross-sector partnerships improve our development outcomes so that we can also improve when, where and how we engage with partners. We aim to build upon this recent work to further refine a framework for examining our partnerships to better assess and evaluate the contributions and roles of the private sector in building lasting development results.

How Cross Sector Collaboration Can Lead to Innovation

How Cross Sector Collaboration Can Lead to Innovation

At The Intersector Project, we seek to empower practitioners in the business, government, and non-profit sectors to collaborate to solve complex problems that typically can’t be solved by one sector alone. Our focus is U.S.-based collaborations, and we aim to provide meaningful analysis and practical insight into how collaboration can best leverage the expertise and resources of each sector, the tactics of successful collaborations, and overcoming common challenges to collaboration. Want to learn more about innovation and cross-sector partnerships? Read all the insights shared during the event in this Storify of The Intersector Project's GPW Twitter chat on innovations and partnerships. 

Innovative, Cross-Sector Approaches in Countering Violent Extremism

Innovative, Cross-Sector Approaches in Countering Violent Extremism

In the spirit of this year’s Global Partnerships Week (GPW) theme of “Leveraging Innovation in Partnerships”, Concordia has long been a proponent of innovative and collaborative efforts that advance global security agendas combating violent extremism (CVE). Many of the GPW partners, and a number of the affiliated organizations and events this week, have dedicated significant time and resources to developing CVE programs and partnerships that to curb the ever-expanding reach of global extremist narratives. Read more from Concordia's Donniell Silva about how collaborative, cross-sector partnerships are working to counter the rise of violent extremism. 


Engaging Diaspora in Development & Diplomacy: The Power of Public-Private Partnerships

Engaging Diaspora in Development & Diplomacy: The Power of Public-Private Partnerships

With the rise of globalization, the number of people leaving their home countries to seek education and employment opportunities has skyrocketed. At the same time, their ability to stay connected to their home countries has increased thanks to the ease of modern travel and widespread access to communications technology. Learn more from Kate Wittingen of the International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA) on how partnerships are harnessing the power of the diaspora.

Collaboration for Impact: Partnership Connects Corporations and Social Enterprises

Collaboration for Impact: Partnership Connects Corporations and Social Enterprises

While it is widely accepted today that partnerships between corporates and small and growing businesses can bridge scaling challenges and help to co-create innovative service offerings for low income markets or develop impactful delivery and distribution channels, establishing these partnerships is a challenge.  Read more from Sheena Raikundalia of Intellecap on how a new partnership with USAID is helping to bridge this gap.

Reaching the SDGs: New Alliances in Digital Development

Reaching the SDGs:  New Alliances in Digital Development

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call on all of us to work as partners to end extreme poverty, fight inequality, and address climate change.   Digital technologies enable government and citizen action towards these global goals.  The rising ubiquity of mobile phones, the increased global use of communication and social media applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook, and the ability to rapidly analyze and use disparate data sets from multiple sources are accelerating governments’ and citizens’ ability to make better, more informed decisions.  However, in order to reap the large scale benefits of these breakthroughs, we must all share equally in the digital economy. Read more from Kate Wilson, CEO of the Digital Impact Alliance.

Bridging the Gap between Development and Private Sector Efforts: a New Model for Gender Lens Partnerships

Bridging the Gap between Development and Private Sector Efforts: a New Model for Gender Lens Partnerships

On this 2016 International Women`s Day, it pays to reflect on the global partnership efforts achieved since 1975 – the International Women`s Year, when the United Nations (UN) officially started to commemorate the accomplishments towards women`s empowerment and gender equality. The theme set by the UN this year, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality,” is yet another strong reminder that women and girls are not a segment or a niche group of our society, but equate to half of the world`s population, and play a critical role in the world economy. Read more from Suzanne Biegel of SPRING who demonstrates that investing in women and girls has the highest untapped return.