Maximising Impact: The Power of Corporate and Private Funder Collaboration in South Africa

By Louise Driver, Executive Director of IPASA

Funder collaboration has become a trending topic in the world of philanthropy with the escalating climate crisis and the threat of the polycrisis reinforcing the reality that we have to work together to tackle the enormity of the challenges our world and our country is facing.  Although collaboration is not necessarily a panacea for all our problems, what funder collaboration can do is create some of the crucial conditions necessary for achieving longer-term, more strategic and more systemic change.  

There are many examples of successful collaboration between private independent funders, some of these showcased in IPASA’s recently released Funder Collaboration Case Studies, but sadly very few cases of collaboration between the two biggest groups of funders – corporate and private funders exist. Yet, their combined efforts hold immense potential for driving sustainable development in South Africa. Through aligning their efforts, leveraging their unique strengths, and engaging with a broad range of stakeholders, these funders can create a far more lasting and meaningful impact.  

Funder collaboration is necessary, and possible, but it is not easy. Creating successful collaborations require a strong common vision, the resolve to work through and around challenges, and commitment to hang in there for the long run.  The time, effort and capacity for humility and risk required should not be underestimated.  

Collaboration is even more tricky between these two different groups of funders – corporate and private- with their very different way of working in terms of motivation, decision-making processes, accountability requirements, and approaches to engagement – yet they bring a range of diverse complementary strengths to a partnership. Corporate funders bring resources, networks, and strategic capabilities; while private funders offer flexibility, innovative approaches, and long-term commitment.  

Given the scarcity of funding resources and the increase demand on these limited resources, we need to look at how corporate and private funders can overcome their differences, and harness each other’s unique strengths to collaborate successfully and thus render their efforts exponentially more effective. Establishing common ground, fostering mutual understanding, balancing risk and innovation, creating transparent frameworks, and aligning timelines are all essential steps in this process.  

The articles in this newsletter share insights and ideas on the benefits, challenges and opportunities arising from these types of collaboration, demonstrating how corporate private funder partnerships can bring necessary scale to a project and allow for more innovative and impactful forms of funding. The newsletter contributions also look at independent corporate foundations and how their unique positioning in the philanthropy landscape can provide opportunities for collaboration with all stakeholders at various levels – from community level up to policy makers.   

Through these thought pieces, IPASA continues to promote and provide a platform for effective multi-stakeholder collaboration, while supporting funders in stretching their mindsets and refining and improving their practices, to continue to learn and evolve.    


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