By: Johannes Linn & Larry Cooley, Co-Chairs of the Scaling Community of Practice
This "Call to Action" from researchers and innovators of the Global South is as important as it is timely. Development agencies and funders have a special responsibility to ensure their financing and advice support optimal and sustainable impact at scale. With their resources and attendant leverage over recipients, funders are in a special position of authority and hence responsibility. Like physicians, they should be guided by the dictum to “do no harm”.
Unfortunately, many standard donor practices undermine, rather than strengthen, scaling efforts: lack of a long-term vision and engagement; focus on one-off, short-term projects that often end up being "pilots-to-nowhere" ;lack of cooperation among funders resulting in highly fragmented aid activity; failure to support genuine local ownership and broad-based participation; lack of acknowledgement of possible negative side effects; and failure to learn and adapt in the way development actions are designed, implemented and supported. These are just some of the ways in which funders can do harm and waste opportunities to support effective development action and impact at scale.
It is against this background that the "Call to Action" highlights eight essential aspects of good funder practice. These messages align with the "Principles and Lessons" which the Scaling Community of Practice has recently articulated as guidance for development practitioners. The Call carries special weight with its specific focus on the funder audience and emanating, as it does, from experienced voices in the Global South. We were therefore delighted to share the Call with the membership of the Scaling Community of Practice. The Call is also very timely for our Community of Practice, as we look forward to incorporating its messages in the work we are currently pursuing to assist development agencies in mainstreaming good scaling practices into their operational approaches. Having powerful Southern voices call for action will add substance and momentum to those efforts and help bring about overdue change.
In May 2022, the Scaling Community of Practice co-hosted a webinar and discussion on the Call to Action with its membership and beyond, featuring two of the authors of the Call and responses from two funder and development agency representatives. Recordings of the webinar are available in English, French and Spanish.