External Evaluation of the Global Humanitarian Partnership between C&A Foundation, C&A and Save the Children
Programme: Strengthening Communities grant focusing on humanitarian response and disaster risk reduction
Title: Global Humanitarian Partnership between C&A Foundation, C&A and Save the Children
Investment: EUR 10 million (C&A Foundation)
Duration: 3 years (2015-18)
Geographical Reach: Global
What did we evaluate?
The Global Humanitarian Partnership formed by C&A Foundation, C&A and Save the Children (SC) was set up in 2015 focused on humanitarian response and disaster risk reduction (DRR). The three-year long, 10 million Euro partnership was built on a long-standing history of humanitarian philanthropy by the Brenninkmeijer family, owners of C&A. The two-fold objectives of the partnership were to work strategically with Save the Children to 1) help communities (women and children) to prepare and respond to disasters; and 2) to work with C&A to influence customers and employees to also contribute to efforts being made by Save the Children. The evaluation took place from May to November 2017.
The evaluation assessed four areas, the partnership, humanitarian response, DRR and children's rights and business principles. The results for each of the themes is presented below:
The evaluation found that there is value in continuing the partnership. However, the ambition of the partnership was not adequately aligned with investments in human resources and structures for efficient implementation. Further, a common vision for the partnership was not fully developed.
There is value in continuing both humanitarian response and DRR programmes. The seed fund was appropriate and allowed for fast and flexible funds to mobilise resources in emergency response situations. However, financial leveraging of the seed fund was mixed – exceptional in some emergencies and non-existent in others. Further, national and local responses were strong and the fund performed in-line with expectations. Save the Children demonstrated a consistent and strong responsiveness to the needs of women and children, as part of a broader community wide approach. However, feedback mechanisms need to be put in place to judge effectiveness more accurately. Additionally, the evaluation found that all programme and partnership linkages were not consistently utilised to support responses.
Disaster Risk Reduction
The inclusion of DRR in the partnership is unique. The general direction planned for the programme was followed consistently and provided flexibility for customisation according to the context despite being delivered at a slower than expected pace. However, the programme was not designed based on a comprehensive understanding of the needs and challenges of the external policy context and capacity. Only those communities directly involved in the projects will eventually benefit – there was insufficient attention to sustainability and scale-up. There was also a lack of a thorough programme management and learning approach from the start of the programme. Further, progress towards results was being inconsistently captured with an over-reliance on output indicators.
Child Rights and Business Principles
While the inclusion of the Child Rights and Business Principles was a prerequisite for corporate partnerships that Save the Children entered into, it was overly ambitious considering the context throughout the partnership – and it was not implemented. It was undone by lack of both coherence and ownership.
What did we learn?
The evaluation reported that there is value in continuing the global humanitarian partnership and that the partners are better placed to take the partnership forward. The evaluation further provided recommendations based upon which the following lessons have been distilled:
For C&A Foundation:
A short duration of the partnership does not allow for fulfilment of ambitions: The ambitions of the partnership were not commensurate with the duration of the grant. Grant making should allow for more realistic timelines so that objectives can be met (e.g., for DRR). Clear strategies, a long-term timeline (five to seven years) as well as ensuring capacities exist within countries must be accompanied by a sustainable exit plan as well.
Clarity of the terms of engagement will create the ground for effective and efficient partnerships: Partnerships must be aligned to each partners’ core interests and mandate. Transparent conversations are key and must involve discussions on the scope and remit of the programmes, strategic priorities and boundaries as well as the respective expertise and capacity of each partner at the global and local levels.
Partnerships are best institutionalised by laying down clear responsibilities: In order to institutionalise partnerships and minimize challenges due to staff turnover, clear roles, responsibilities and processes must be in place across all partners. Partners must avoid bilateral alliances and must be included in strategic decisions to create joint ownership. In addition, a learning culture is key to allow for flexibility in changing contexts.
Clear communication and M&E for documenting what works and what does not work provides for learning with accountability inside and outside the partnership. Clear internal and external communications provide visibility within and outside the organisations. Further, monitoring, evaluation and reporting as well as real time feedback is key to document inspiring stories of change, learning and evidence of both failure and success.
Dialogue with likeminded donors is important to identify areas of synergies for effective cooperation: Partnerships are becoming increasingly vital for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and corporates for their potential for win-win outcomes. For this reason, the implementing partners must engage in conversations, alongside the donor, with other emergency response corporate donors with similar interests to identify synergies and areas of cooperation as well as pooled funding. Effective donor cooperation will create a space for both a comprehensive and efficient response to emergencies.