How can we change the face of aid delivery so that organizations can focus on what really matters to them? In a recent Devex article EOF’s CEO Dr Amel Karboul and the Founder of Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS) John Rendel made the case for a shift towards unrestricted, results-based funding in the aid community.
Although less popular with funders, unrestricted funding gives organizations greater agency, allowing them to keep a focus on impact and strategy, rather than limiting their funding applications to fit often narrow donor requirements. When done well, unrestricted funding relationships create trust between the funder and the recipient organization, often allowing for greater overall impact.
Many donors, however, remain anxious about measuring ‘return on investment’ for their funds when moving to unrestricted grants. In this context, pairing unrestricted funding with an outcomes-based approach allows donors and recipients to enjoy the benefits of unrestricted funds while ensuring accountability, structure, and coordination are maintained. A focus on outcomes can give organizations the increased agency of unrestricted funds, paired with close monitoring and evaluation to ensure that goals and targets are met, with space to course correct when necessary. Focusing on results rather than inputs also ensures that all stakeholders are aligned around common objectives, allowing for greater creativity and collaboration when solving problems.
Despite the benefits of the unrestricted approach for both funders and recipients, the vast majority of funding within the aid sector remains restricted. In order to change the status quo, innovative funders and their partner organizations must make the case for the impact that unrestricted, outcomes-based funding can deliver where it really matters, by changing outcomes for those on the ground.
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