Improving organisational effectiveness: what are funders doing beyond providing general operating support?

October 18, 2021

This paper asks the following questions:

  • Why is general or programme support insufficient to properly address the organisational effectiveness of grantees?
  • What have funders done to go beyond general or programme support?
  • What are the benefits of providing additional support to grantees?
  • What factors have enabled and constrained the provision of additional support to grantees?

In answering these questions, we first explored how organisational effectiveness is defined. We found two broad perspectives: one which tends to have a narrow focus on technical skills and formal structures that are characteristic of formal businesses in the North and another that covers a more holistic range of abilities required to function effectively summarised as capabilities and part of being resilient.

We found that general or programme support to grantee organisations tends not to be used to improve the effectiveness of the grantee organisation, due to in part to senior managers prioritising salaries and programme management/expansion ahead of effectiveness or being reluctant to admit they might be experiencing organisational problems for fear of their funders deeming them less worthy of funding.