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Presentation to CEGN: Perspectives on Collaboration


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  • End of 2006 – early 2007 Research was conducted to assess OTF’s impact in the Environment sector since 2001. Identify opportunities to enhance the impact of the Foundation’s grants over the next 3 to 5 years. We shouldn’t treat the environment sector in the same way that we treat the other sectors we fund. We should take into account its unique features and factor them into our strategies and approaches to funding this sector. ENGOs receive relatively little funding from government.
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    • 1. Perspectives on Collaboration The Ontario Trillium Foundation Wednesday, May 28 th , 2009
    • 2. Sector Research Findings
      • ENGOs are younger, less well funded and less institutionally robust than NFPs in other sectors
      • 69% of environmental organizations have no paid staff and many are temporary employees
      • Fewer environmental organizations are incorporated or registered as charities compared to other sectors
      • Capacity and over-reliance on project funding are two problems the sector faces
    • 3. OTF’s Funding of the Sector
      • As a largely responsive granter, enables groups to address community needs and local priorities
      • OTF is one of the few funders that explicitly supports capacity building by way of operational and capital funding, including administrative costs.
      • OTF helps to break silos by encouraging cross-sector cooperation and coordination.
      • OTF plays a valued role by reinforcing links between grass-roots and large environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs).
    • 4. Funding the Sector
      • Between April 1, 1999 and March 31, 2009:
      • More than 1,000 grants approved valued at over $94.2M.
      • 70% of dollars approved through the Community Grants program, 26% through Province-wide, 4% Future Fund - Environment Issues initiative (10 grants worth of $4M).
      • On average over the ten years period represents 10% of total OTF granting allocation.
      • Relative to the size of the sector, OTF is a bigger player in the environment sector than the other sectors it funds.
    • 5. The Future Fund
      • Strengthen the impact of organizations in Ontario working on environment issues by enhancing leadership and building capacity through investments in innovation and collaboration.
    • 6. The Future Fund
      • Where we started:
      • 2 rounds of Future Fund – Environment
      • 63 applications
      • $23.7 M requested
      • Where are we now:
      • $4 M granted
      • 10 collaborative projects funded
      • 45 signing collaborative partners
      • ~100 involved organizations/groups
    • 7. Province-wide Mapping Future Fund Collaboratives Across Ontario
    • 8. High Engagement
        • Learning opportunity – for grantees & OTF
        • Partnership b/w grantees & OTF
        • Committed to supporting Collaboratives and individual organizations beyond $$
        • Flexible, responsive, interactive
    • 9. Value-added Grantmaking
      • Two staff working with and supporting grantees
      • Close presence and participation in all projects
      • “ Negotiables” & “Non-negotiables”
      • Learning Circles – networking , sharing and learning
      • Use of OTF space and teleconferencing facilities
      • Workshops for FF grantees (“Leading Collaborative Efforts: Skills for Survival and Success” & "Managing in Though Times: The Economic Downturn and Your Nonprofit")
      • Research, monitoring and evaluation support
    • 10. A Learning Agenda
      • The ‘newness’ of this initiative provides enormous scope for organizational learning.
      • Learning, therefore, is at the centre of this evaluation plan - learning so that the Foundation can be a more responsive funder, learning so that our grantees can be better at what they do.
      • Learning will not just happen as a by-product of doing what we always do but instead time to learn needs to be embedded into all of the evaluation activities conducted.
    • 11. Collaborative Evaluation / Evaluating Collaboratives
      • Future Fund initiatives are dealing with complex issues that have no quick-fix.
      • Environmental sustainability will not be achieved within the life-cycle of one grant, real social change takes decades or even generations.
      • Evaluating complex issues is therefore difficult evaluation as an iterative process with each step of the evaluation informing the next.
      • Active participation by all stakeholders and an evaluation plan that builds in learning and action at each step of the process.
    • 12. Building Relationships and Building Capacity
      • very little evaluation culture in this sector so building capacity is critical
      • aha moments but evaluation will be at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list unless you push a little, working with an eNGO grantee to further their work (we funded) through online course on evaluation for eNGOs
      • finding news ways to press home the message – learning survey
    • 13. Informing Practice
      • adapting what we’ve done with this round of the Future Fund into the next Future Fund with it’s focus on creating economic opportunities –
        • face to face meetings work best
        • interviews are one of the most effective ways of building relationships and gathering information about the whys and the wherefores
        • evaluation plan and timelines need to be flexible
        • each project team will have very different capacities and interests in evaluation
        • stories are powerful and the people we are working with have fantastic stories to tell
    • 14. Knowledge Sharing
    • 15.
      • QUESTIONS?