Measuring small-scale contributions to the SDGs

Dana R. H. Doan

The December issue of Alliance focused on the topic of community philanthropy and the concept of ‘durable development’ – shifting power closer to the ground and giving agency to local people and their organizations. Here, Dana Doan responds to the issues raised and argues that community foundations have a role to play in delivering the SDGs on the ground.

I devoured the December issue of Alliance, particularly the special feature on community philanthropy. I appreciated the diversity of contributors, their unique experiences and approaches, all of whom come to a shared conclusion: that people on the ground must be empowered if we want our development efforts to succeed.

After finishing the special feature, I read the rest of the magazine and lingered on three articles referring to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I tested out the SDG Indicator Wizard and reflected on my own organization’s experience trying to identify relevant SDG indicators we could feasibly use to measure the impact of our work. It appears obvious to me that there is a need to better relate these indicators to the people working on the ground.

In Vietnam, and I might even argue in many countries, the target SDG indicators can only be tracked or measured by government agencies, bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, and/or large, well-resourced NGOs collaborating closely with governments. But, how can local organizations like my own demonstrate their contributions towards the SDGs?

Perhaps this is already on the agenda of the Action for Sustainable Development initiative, the SDG Philanthropy Platform, or the Foundation Center who are all promoting collaboration to support implementation of the SDGs. If not, I think it should be. Or, as per the title of the article by Danny Sriskandarajah, ‘Funders: [here’s a great opportunity to] use your power to shift the power’!

Dana Doan
Founder and strategic adviser, LIN Center for Community Development.

For more discussion on the SDG debate, listen to our Alliance Audio podcast.

On the same topic of community philanthropy: ‘How to be effective and responsive to communities?’ by Chandrika Sahai, Impact of new approaches needs to be demonstrated’ by Anna Wansbrough-Jones, ‘Strengthening the bonds of civil society’ by Aimi Zhou and Ine Van Severen, USAID must reform to truly support a community philanthropy model’ by Aisha Mansour, SDGs must be part of community philanthropy agenda’ by Carola Carazzone

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