Editor’s note: This post was authored by Seema Shah, director of research for special projects at the Foundation Center. She leads the multi-disciplinary, multi-talented team responsible for developing and maintaining WASHfunders.org.
WASHfunders.org turns one today! And what a year it has been. Over the past year, we’ve seen our reach grow steadily, attracting more than a thousand site visitors a month from foundations, NGOs, and think tanks across all corners of the globe. Our funding map of data on foundation grantmaking for WASH is constantly expanding, with more than 400 new grants added to the site since its inception. We have posted over 50 blog entries, with contributions from a range of emerging and established funders, thought leaders, and rockstar NGOs, lifting up lessons learned from WASH projects on the ground.
We’re confident this is only the start. With support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, we are forging ahead with ambitious and exciting plans to make WASHfunders.org a critical resource for data and information in the sector. It’s not about data for the sake of data, though. Our hope is that easy access to good quality data and information can guide strategic decision-making, foster new collaborations, and help make the most of limited grant dollars.
In that spirit, we have recently added several new features to the site:
- Funder Toolkit – For funders new to this line of work, it can be hard to know where to start. Designed especially for new and prospective funders in the sector and developed in partnership with WASH Advocates, the toolkit directs funders to essential data, reading material, videos, and web sites to help them learn, collaborate, and act.
- Funders’ Forum – The forum is a password-protected space for funders to communicate exclusively with one another and share strategies, ideas, and lessons learned with fellow funders.
- Site Registration – Many users have told us they would like to react to blog content. Our quick and easy site registration process allows users to comment on blog posts to keep the conversation going and stay up-to-date on new site developments.
As excited as we are about how far we have come in a year, we are even more excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. A major focus for us will be integrating additional data streams into the funding map to help paint a more complete picture of funding flows and projects on the ground. Among the data streams we hope to incorporate are government funding data, grantmaking from foundations outside of the U.S., and more detailed project-level information, including progress reports.
On behalf of the Foundation Center team working on this project, we thank all of you for your support, feedback, and engagement over the past year. As always, keep your comments coming so we can continue to improve the site.
In the meantime, to commemorate our first birthday, we’ve put together an infographic about where we’ve been and where we are headed. Click the image below to view the full infographic. Enjoy!
Attending World Water Week? Join us for a seminar examining the role of U.S. philanthropy in solving the global WASH crisis. Detailed information on the seminar’s theme and structure is below.
Stockholm, Sweden — World Water Week conference venue, room K2
Wednesday, August 29th (9AM – 12:30PM)
Follow @WASHfunders for live tweets at the time of the session
This seminar will describe the unique role of U.S.-based foundations in the WASH sector, particularly how philanthropic capital differs from other funding sources, and how those differences can catalyze further funding, support greater advocacy efforts, and spur innovation. Key topics will include: lessons learned and best practices from funded programs; the role of philanthropy in leveraging resources and working collaboratively to increase funding, sustainability, and effectiveness of programs; and a demonstration of WASHfunders.org. Case studies will be presented by five foundations and their grantees through dialogues about opportunities, successes, and challenges of foundation-funded programs.
09:00 Opening Remarks and Seminar Overview. Mr. Edmund J. Cain, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
09:10 Overview of U.S. Philanthropy. Mr. Brad Smith & Dr. Seema Shah, The Foundation Center
09:30 Foundation Strategies and Grantee Case Studies on Innovation, Advocacy, Learning and Leveraging of Resources in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector — Opportunities, Successes and Challenges. Moderator: Mr. Brad Smith, The Foundation Center
- Innovation & Multiple Use Services
Mr. John Thomas, Rockefeller Foundation & Dr. Mary Renwick, Winrock International
Dr. Braimah Apambire, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation & Mr. John Oldfield, WASH Advocates
- Scale & Sustainability
Mr. Louis Boorstin, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & Mr. Ned Breslin, Water For People
- Learning from Partnerships
Mr. Paul Hicks, Catholic Relief Services & Mr. Peter Lochery, CARE
- Reporting & Transparency/Social Entrepreneurship
Mr. David Rothschild, Skoll Foundation & Mr. Ned Breslin, Water For People
11:00 Coffee Break
11:30 Reflections from Panelists/Attendees; Conversations/Additional Q&A, Moderator: Mr. Brad Smith, The Foundation Center
12:00 Demonstration of WASHfunders.org. Dr. Seema Shah, The Foundation Center
12:20 Conclusions and Way Forward. Mr. Brad Smith, The Foundation Center
12:30 Close of Seminar
For the full seminar listing in the World Water Week online programme, click here.
Editor’s Note: Leading up to the U.S. Philanthropy and WASH seminar at World Water Week next Wednesday, August 29th, in Stockholm, we decided to pose three questions to the panel’s esteemed group of foundation and NGO leaders to give you a preview of their conversation. We will post a new interview each day this week so check back daily or sign up for e-mail updates. In this post, Braimah Apambire, who leads the WASH Initiative at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, speaks about the importance of advocacy for the WASH sector. In yesterday’s post, David Rothschild discussed funder-grantee relationships.
1. Describe what your organization does and what your role is.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world's disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in five priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance abuse, caring for vulnerable children, and extending Conrad Hilton's support for the work of Catholic Sisters. Following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $1.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to alleviate human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants and in 2011 distributed $82 million to organizations in the U.S. and throughout the world. The Foundation's current assets are approximately $2 billion. For more information, please visit our web site.
Since 1990, the Foundation has awarded more than $114 million in grants toward programs in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, India and Mexico. These programs have provided access to safe water for more than 2 million people. The Foundation’s five-year strategy focuses on safe water access, as part of the broader WASH+ (water, sanitation, hygiene, and improved livelihoods) approach, for the poorest and hardest-to-reach populations. Central to the Foundation’s grantmaking approach are long-term partnerships and leveraging resources. Key initiatives of our current work include supporting sustainable and scalable water access, strengthening the enabling environment for WASH interventions, and disseminating and adopting sector-wide knowledge.
I lead the Foundation’s water initiative and spearheaded the development of the Foundation’s strategic plan for WASH programming in Africa, Mexico, and India.
2. Tell us one provocative question or issue you hope to tackle on the U.S. Philanthropy and WASH panel, and why.
My hope is that participants will get to know the importance of and opportunities for advocacy in the WASH sector. Many people see advocacy as influencing Congress to increase USG funding to the WASH sector. However, advocacy goes beyond that to include engaging local governments, civic and faith societies, corporations, philanthropists, grasstops and grassroots about the issue at hand and how it can be solved.
Why advocacy? Foundations can’t solve the global WASH crisis through direct service delivery by their grantees alone — advocacy is needed to increase the amount and effectiveness of WASH grantmaking.
3. What are you most looking forward to about Stockholm and/or World Water Week?
Networking with colleagues.
The Foundation Center is pleased to announce the launch of WASHfunders.org. Designed with philanthropic donors in mind, WASHfunders.org gives funders a “one stop shop” for the data and information they need to improve water access, sanitation, and hygiene around the world.
Though grantmakers are the primary audience for the site, we suspect that others interested in this urgent issue, including policymakers, practitioners, journalists, researchers, and the public, will find valuable resources on the site.
The site’s central feature is an interactive mapping application that shows where foundation grants are going, to which organizations, and for what purpose. WASHfunders.org is the first and only site with this critical data. What’s more, foundation funding flows are shown within the context of international aid funding and key development indicators, providing a robust picture of the WASH landscape in any given country or region.
WASHfunders.org also provides free access to a broad set of knowledge resources, including:
- Funder profiles documenting the WASH strategies of leading foundations;
- Case studies that illustrate the successes and challenges of WASH projects around the world;
- Tools and resources for assessing project outcomes; and
- A searchable archive of research reports recommended by sector leaders
We’ll be using the Inside View section of the site to highlight site content, update you on new features, and share newsworthy events in the WASH sector, all with a philanthropic lens. To get Inside View posts delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for e-mail updates on the site’s home page.
In the meantime, help us spread the word about this exciting new resource. Tweet about us. Blog about us. Tell your friends and colleagues.
And, as always, let us know what you think of the site and how we can make the site as useful and user-friendly as possible. Our team can be reached at email@example.com.
WASHfunders.org was created with generous support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Read the full press release here.