When asked about the importance of collaborative action in philanthropy, Sanjeev Bikchandani, co-founder of Ashoka University said,...
India Philanthropy Report 2019 highlights the ‘Field Approach’ where non-profits, corporates, government and philanthropists have successfully worked towards eradicating malaria and controlling tobacco consumption, and are presently seeking to address sectoral challenges relating to urban sanitation and adolescent empowerment. The report concludes by describing the key themes that emerge from these cases that form the principles of a field approach and calls for Indian philanthropy to take a more ambitious and holistic view towards creating impact at scale.
The following case highlights ways in which philanthropists and other stakeholders have successfully adopted a field approach. The cases are not all funded by philanthropists, but they all demonstrate how the field approach works and how philanthropists could adopt a similar ap- proach to their giving.
In 2008, Dasra forayed into addressing the systemic challenges facing India’s often marginalised and underserved adolescent population. By 2017, it had established the need to invest in adolescents and defined its long-term vision of transforming adolescent lives in India via a research-led collaborative funding process.
The problem: India has 243 million adolescents by UNICEF’s count, but the country performed dismally on adolescent girls’ health, safety and education. A TrustLaw poll ranked India as the fourth most dangerous country in the world for women. Another UNICEF report indicated that 56% of adolescent girls in the 15-19 age group are anaemic while almost 20% of women aged 20–24 were first married by age 15. Finally, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights reports that nearly 40% of girls aged 15-18 do not attend school. Research has shown that adolescent vulnerabilities are closely linked to issues relating to health, education, employment and gender perceptions, highlighting the need for holistic interventions.
The approach: With this vision to transform adolescent lives in India, the 10to19 Dasra Adolescents Collaborative (DAC) was launched with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2017. The 10to19 Collaborative model unifies stakeholders across the sector—including funders, nonprofits, technical experts and the government—to drive collaborative action and ensure that adolescents are educated, healthy and empowered to make positive life choices. DAC’s long-term priorities are to create an evidence-based model of adolescent programming and centre adolescents in the national health and development agenda to strengthen the sec- tor and influence government policy.
With support from Dasra, DAC will administer a US $50 million outcome-led collaborative funding model that supports its nonprofit partners’ work in Jharkhand. These nonprofit partners use a comprehensive programming approach that encompasses health, education, employ- ability, and agency, and they have proven models, a desire to collaborate, and often a strong relationship with the local and state government. DAC also strengthens the ecosystem by fostering a CoP that brings together more than 60 adolescent-focused organisations to share knowledge, provide support and promote collective action to engage with the government for effective programme and policy implementation. Additionally, DAC is planning a national campaign to inspire parents, families, teachers and community leaders to empower adolescents.
What has been achieved so far: Over the past year, DAC kick-started implementation in 31 blocks across 6 districts in Jharkhand and completed a baseline evaluation with nearly 16,000 adolescents across 23 districts in Jharkhand. DAC also polled more than 10,000 adolescents across 7 states in India, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to evaluate their need for, awareness of and access to adolescent-focused health services. It also published 15 articles about 10to19 and its partners in national and state media and channelled INR 6 crore to its 4 implementing nonprofit partners for programmes in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam.
What sets it apart: DAC’s value is its multifaceted approach to strengthening the field by establishing a data-driven, evidence-backed, replicable model. Its multi-stakeholder approach brings partners into a shared vision with a defined shared outcomes framework and a clear link to broader SDGs relating to health and well-being, equitable education and gender equality.
DAC is working with sector experts to develop a data measurement system, evaluation tools and frameworks to measure its interventions’ effectiveness and analyse data from which it can generate ground-level, actionable insights. In addition, DAC will look across the entire sector for systemic challenges and service delivery gaps to inform policy and effect long-term change, while its process evaluation will help codify the entire exercise and capture operational learnings to make the model easy to replicate.
DAC is open to both first-time individual givers and multilateral funding agencies, so funders at different giving levels can participate. Through regular touch-points, DAC provides funders with exposure to the sector, access to knowledge products and Dasra networks, and multiple learning avenues that they can leverage to be more strategic in their giving.
The power of data-driven, collaborative action to build a robust adolescents-focused field in India is DAC’s driving force. DAC will now move beyond the initial planning phase to create a three- and five-year strategy and streamline implementation to positively affect 5 million adolescents.
Key success factors: