Last year, we commissioned an independent review of our awards process – a challenging and insightful experience.
After combining the findings with internal reviews, external research and stakeholder feedback, a clear picture has emerged, telling us what we've done well and where we can do better.
In trying to improve the way we support local organisations, there are no quick fixes or 'right answers', just a series of trade-offs.
To help us focus, we've taken into account what we understand to be the 'need', what we want to achieve, what is important to those we want to work with, what is important to us, and our own limitations as a relatively small foundation.
Over the next month, we will be announcing important changes to how we run the Impact Awards from 2015 onwards.
The core purpose of the Impact Awards – rewarding strong local, autonomous organisations working with underserved children – will remain. So will key elements of the Award package, such as unrestricted funding and capacity support.
However, the process we follow to select Impact Award recipients will change.
We'll write more in December once all the details have been agreed.
In the meantime, here are the two changes that we know will have implications on who can apply and how.
Historically, the Impact Awards have been open to applications from organisations working in the 100 countries with the highest rates of under-five mortality. This is based on our commitment to support local civil society across the world, not just in the largest countries, or those that receive the most development funding.
Our process has been dominated by countries where civil society is more established; organisations from smaller countries with less-developed civil societies have stood little chance of being recognised.
To address this, we will be 'clustering' countries – identifying 4-6 countries per region that we will work in over a two-year cycle.
We want to spend more time focusing on fewer countries annually, therefore increasing our chances of finding and recognising organisations that do a great job in the context they operate in.
Previously, we accepted applications from any organisation that met our eligibility criteria. While this had its advantages, it also had significant drawbacks.
By being 'open', Stars has no control over the number of applications we receive. This creates huge uncertainty: applicants have no idea how many organisations they are competing against, and Stars is faced with processing hundreds, if not thousands, of applications.
This is inefficient. Applicants spend a huge amount of time applying when they have little chance of 'winning'. Stars spends more time assessing unsuccessful organisations than working with the strong organisations we identify.
We will now be moving towards a more proactive sourcing approach. By more intensively targeting networks and organisations, we will be trying new ways of identifying the 'strongest' organisations, not simply hoping they will apply.
The aim of this blog is to highlight the most significant changes we're planning.
In December, we will be providing details of the new Awards process on our website, and early next year we will be releasing a summary of the independent review of our Awards – research that helped to catalyse and underpin a number of changes we have decided to make.
We are committed to being transparent throughout this process, so if you would like to be kept informed of these changes, please sign-up to our newsletter and check back on the website next month.
The changes we are making will help us to strengthen our support and recognition of local civil society in the context they operate in, while also making the process more efficient from an applicant point of view.
We're committed to learning from what we do, building it into our work and sharing with others.
We look forward to sharing our plans with you as they develop.
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