Sylvia Cadena, APNIC Foundation, Technical Community, WEOG
Sylvia Cadena, APNIC Foundation, Technical Community, WEOG
The APNIC Foundation organized donor gatherings at previous IGFs, in Geneva, Paris and Berlin, looking at facilitating networking among development agencies, grants programs and other kinds of investors and supporting collaboration and alignment of the different funding mechanisms to contribute to the development of the Internet across the world. This networking session will provide a unique opportunity to meet others walking similar paths, and discuss opportunities for collaboration to amplify investment strategies.
The APNIC Foundation will seek to engage other donors and grants programs that might not be able to join us in Japan to share about their funding opportunities and share questions and areas of collaboration they are open to explore. The session will start with a brief introduction (max 10 minutes) of the agenda and people going around the table to introduce them selves in less than 30 seconds. Then the group will be divided in 30 minutes of intense networking, using the speed dating methodology to have individuals in the room to network in blocks of 3 minutes to share on 1) current and future areas of investment; and 2) interest for collaboration. After that, the group will be divided in 3 to 4 clusters according to their interest for collaboration for a final 15 minute conversation where each cluster should have identify at least one possible area of collaboration. Each group will be facilitated by APNIC Foundation staff with notes shared with all attendees.
For the Internet to continue to grow and develop to achieve the SDGs, there is a need for those funding Internet development to coordinate and articulate their efforts so that the funding made available is not only supporting project activities/initiatives with concrete deliverables but that is also contributing to long term stability and development of organizations involved in Internet governance discussions.
Organizations that fund and support the IGF are concerned about the lack of funding for its stability and expressed their support for the continuation and strengthening of the IGF.
Organizations funding Internet development raised the importance of engaging with the organizations doing research and implementation to better understand their funding needs and the challenges they face, to explore opportunities to design finance mechanisms through consultative approaches that respond to real needs.
Organizations that fund Internet development encouraged funding recipients to work to structure clearer narratives about their vision for the Internet, and what funding is required to achieve it and to communicate effectively.
This session broke into groups to discuss the challenges for funders of Internet development initiatives.
A key challenge for one funder was finding activities which are aligned with the donors vision/interest. Although grants terms are one-year generally, usually donors look for impact that can be measured. This focus on (immediate) impact that creates burdens for grantees, and it can be difficult to measure, especially in the short term.
A funding recipient said that they understand that donors want to measure impact. but then, in addition to the tools used for implementing activities, recipient organizations then need to use other/new tools to measure impact. A one year grant requires quick results and that’s not possible most of the time. In that grantee’s case, they have dedicated staff for reporting and evaluation, but that is not a common situation for most recipients.
A key discussion point was around how both donors and recipients can build skills to manage the grants received and to do it well. How can this be formalised/standardised?
Some organisations have the potential to generate their own funds, but are not leveraging this enough. There needs to be more focus on this from the recipients (and skills development). This means there has to be consideration of multiple income streams, and whether grants alone can sustain the organization.
Funders may need to consider how they can provide the tools to develop business models and marketing skills for their funding recipients.
In some cases, they can help the recipient organisation to get to the next level. It is easier in smaller countries where everyone knows everyone. An example is for funders to have access to a pool of resources that can offer low-bono work to orgs that may need legal advice, marketing, website development, or give small extra funds to improve key skills at that point in time.
Funders can look at how to provide access to creative designers to help communicate techy concepts translated into clear ideas and messages to the rest of the world.
Fellowships train people and ask them to be ambassadors. This is empowering. But as a funder, it is not a self sustaining initiative as the funder will always have to find funds each period to pay for travel and attendance to conferences. They are growing their skills, but then the funder needs to consider how they can leverage those skills, such as alumni programs. There are certain initiatives/models that will always require funds. But is there another funding model?
The question was asked: What about multi-year funding?
One funder said they used to do single-year funding, but now they do larger grants over two years. They partner upfront, to help guide it with the organization and work with them. Rather than a competitive process they strategically selected partner recipients. They then encourage and support them to seek multiple sources of funds.
There was some discussion around the stability of recipient organizations – short term funding with short term goals doesn’t allow them much scope to invest in their ongoing sustainability.
The question was asked how much of that was related to funding – sustainability is also affected by external factors or unstable political environments however in this case it was a question of financial stability.
There was discussion around the balance between investing for measurable impact, versus investing long term in the core viability of organizations and keeping them sustainable. These two goals are often in tension.
The session is available at: