From rhetoric to reality: practicing partnership in philanthropy

Anna Hirsch-Holland

The rhetoric on the need for partnership to increase our impact is deafening, but what does it mean in practice?

Philanthropists are increasingly recognising that they can only achieve innovation and impact by supporting and working in partnership across societal sectors. Since 2020, The Partnering Initiative – an NGO dedicated to supporting multi-stakeholder collaboration – has been working to understand and evolve the role of philanthropy in supporting partnership for sustainable and transformational development.

We have found that this role is multifaceted – from creating trusted partnerships with and between grantees, to catalyzing collective action across sectors by spearheading multi-stakeholder partnerships or collaborative platforms that can deliver system transformation. Indeed, philanthropy is uniquely positioned to promote and scale effective partnerships – able to draw on flexible funding and innovative finance models, as well as technical expertise, reputation and influence, and diverse cross-sectoral networks. But what does this entail, in practice?

Being deliberate and strategic about the type of partnerships to pursue

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