Making Philanthropy Developmentally Effective

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Global Studies


This project builds on two previous research projects. The first, (ES/1033890/1) investigated the 'philanthroscape' of Colombo focusing on the actual and potential role of charity and philanthropy in supporting development. This indicated that most charity takes place within specific social groups and reinforces existing social differences. Interventions are relatively unplanned and mainly consist of simplistic forms of social protection rather than address underlying causes of poverty and marginalisation. The research aimed to influence stakeholders through knowledge exchange meetings, training workshops and policy notes. We also encouraged various international agencies to support links between indigenous charitable organisations and local development organisations through distributing our policy notes and visiting major players.
In the course of the research it became clear that there was considerable demand within the charitable sector for assistance in defining more sustainable and effective activities amongst Sri Lankan organisations, the general public and the corporate sector. This led to a second project (ES/L007819/1). Our conceptual framework was based on the key finding that while many Sri Lankan charities and philanthropists often lack knowledge of best 'principles' and 'practices' of effective philanthropy, CSR, and social business to deliver real change. This was the basis for a series of training days, associated activities and materials. The workshops were mounted with CSR Lanka. Our target for participation was 105: 130 attended the workshops and the feedback was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.
Whilst implementing this latter project and in subsequent discussions the considerable demand for further training sessions became evident. In Colombo this involves assistance in generating sustainable linkages between donors and recipients and making available knowledge and skills enabling stakeholders to engage in effective decision making. This project will mount a series of advanced workshops addressing such issues. As in the last project, training material will be made available in all three of Sri Lanka's official languages. The target number of participants is 50 decision makers.
One of the issues raised during the workshops was the need for some sort of online register or map allowing donors and beneficiaries to interact with each other, recognise potential area for collaboration and areas of synergy. This will be addressed through establishing a network using open source software (Ushahidi) and lodging it with either the BC or CSR Lanka to ensure sustainability.
Another is the need to bring state and parastatal organisations into conjunction with the charitable and private sectors. To this end, policy forums will be held at the start and end of the workshop series, both as a way of encouraging governmental involvement and ensuring aims and objectives reflect national development priorities, but also as a way of promoting uptake of our findings.
We were surprised at the number of applicants for our workshops from the north and northeast of Sri Lanka. Here, there is an ongoing process of reconstruction. Charitable organisations are active but in a relatively unfocused way and with little understanding of development. Local organisations are finding it difficult to create and maintain partnerships with donors. Interest has been expressed in the workshops mounted during the previous project, and during this project a series of revised workshops will be held in Jaffna. The target number of participants is 50.
In our first project we attempted to interest major donors in our research and its implications for policy. This resonated with some of the activities of the ADB which has expressed interest in working with us to encourage larger philanthropic organisations to support smaller agencies. To meet this need a seminar will be held in Singapore in association with the ADB.

Planned Impact

The direct beneficiaries of this project will be organisations in the charitable sector, private sector companies involved in CSR activities and representative of the state sector involved in policy making and activities associated with the charitable sector. In Colombo this will include both local and national charitable organisations on the donor's side, and various NGOs and CSOs on the recipient side. Similarly, both donors and recipients will benefit from structured interaction with policy makers and state organisations. In Jaffna, the major direct beneficiaries will be locally-based developmental organisations and potential donor partners. From the seminar in Singapore, higher level philanthropists and other donor organisations will benefit from exposure to the lessons learnt in the Sri Lankan context and be able to better support local level initiatives.
Indirectly, poor and marginalised groups will benefit from this project. To some extent this will be more direct in so far as representatives of such groups are members of developmental organisations, but indirectly groups already in touch with development organisations supported by charitable bodies will benefit as will others yet to be approached by such bodies.
The benefits will primarily be achieved through improving the efficiency and effectiveness of both charitable agencies and the recipients of their assistance. This will be achieved through creating long running linkages between the parties involved, and increasing the capacity of donors and recipients to design effective developmental interventions plus monitoring and evaluation capacities. This will result in development assistance which moves beyond simple forms of social protection, and will have impacts not only in terms of income of poor groups but also in their engagement in the development process.
Description The overall aim of the project was to build on the achievements of two earlier awards (ES/1033890/1 and ES/L007819/1) that explored the actual and potential contribution of indigenous charity and philanthropy to Sri Lankan development processes, by offering learning, training, and development and knowledge exchange opportunities to key stakeholders in the country and internationally.

Objective 1: Run 'masterclasses' in sustainable development, philanthropy, and CSR for organisations that participated in our training workshops in Colombo in 2014.

Achievement 1: We designed and delivered five bespoke training days for companies operating in five key sectors: agriculture, apparel, banking and finance, construction, and hospitality. Each day was attended by 10-15 companies. Participants were nominated by the CEO and this helped to ensure commitment to and uptake of the learnings. The training equipped participants to become 'Sustainability Ambassadors' in their respective organisations, with the mandate and skills to embed transformative CSR agendas that met the strategic needs of their company and market context, while responding to priority poverty reduction and development goals. Participants returned to their organisations having prepared individual action plans to achieve their own goals. The training received media coverage in major national newspapers.

Objective 2: Run new introductory classes in sustainable development, philanthropy and CSR for organisations that face specific challenges in the north and north-east of Sri Lanka.

Achievement 2: We designed and delivered a bespoke training day for 30 business owners and managers in Jaffna. The city has for several decades been on the frontline of the Sri Lankan civil war, and has suffered significant economic, social, and psychological trauma. Six years after the end of the war, private sector institutions remain underdeveloped and local business leaders are increasingly frustrated about the apparent lack of interest among Sri Lankan corporates, as well as international companies and donor agencies, to invest in the city. Hence our intervention was aimed at providing CSR Sri Lanka, Colombo-based companies, and international donor agencies a meaningful introduction to the local economy based on CSR principles. To that end, our programme championed the social and business benefits of CSR in and for Jaffna and the development of the north and east of Sri Lanka. To our knowledge, this was the first such programme to take place in a war-affected part of the country and was enthusiastically attended. Recognising the important role of private philanthropy and CSR in post-war development processes, the Jaffna Business Managers' Forum has now taken on responsibility for furthering the work we began. The training also received media coverage.

Objective 3: Hold policy forum meetings with representatives of the Sri Lankan government, development agencies, charities and philanthropic organisations to promote our work at the national level.

Achievement 3: We designed and delivered a one-day national consultation exercise in Colombo with the aim of promoting findings from all three projects, as well as helping our partner organisation, CSR Sri Lanka, to identify national priorities in charity, philanthropy, and CSR as it moves forward as the country's apex body for private philanthropy and CSR. Forty senior representatives from public, private, and third sector organisations attended, and through an 'open forum' exercise identified seven national priorities, key objectives, and action points, for consideration. These were recorded and written up as a policy white paper and handed to the board of CSR Sri Lanka to action. The event also received media coverage.
Exploitation Route The major impact beneficiary of the project has been CSR Sri Lanka, the national apex body driving forward new sustainable approaches to corporate philanthropy and corporate sustainability and responsibility. Our collaboration helped CSR Sri Lanka to build organisational capacities and reach into the Sri Lankan corporate and development sectors, raising awareness about its work and increasing membership, and developing knowledge about Sri Lankan poverty and development issues at board and institutional levels. Specifically, results of our activities directly helped CSR Sri Lanka to define a set of national development priorities to champion over the coming five years. This also meant that CSR Sri Lanka was better positioned to secure longer term core funding from USAID
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description • We were able to harness the growing momentum started during the previous grant to convene a national policy exchange to identify key areas on poverty reduction the private sector could work together to address (see:; • We opened up new opportunities that under the previous grant had been too politically sensitive - for example offering training in the north of Sri Lanka to address the specific realities and needs of the post-war economy (see:; and • Finally, we could provide much needed capacity support for Sri Lanka's only national platform organisation supporting private sector development interventions, CSR Lanka.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other
Impact Types Societal,Economic