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Are you a WASHfunders Power User?

Have you searched our map to orient yourself to the WASH funding landscape? Do you regularly read this blog? Are you familiar with our featured case studies or funder profiles? If you’ve visited WASHfunders, we’d love your feedback as part of our evaluation of the site.

Launched more than 2 ½ years ago, WASHfunders has been an experiment for our team at the Foundation Center. We hoped WASHfunders would facilitate knowledge-sharing, foster collaboration, and promote transparency related to foundation funding. But the truth is, we know relatively little about how our audience is using the site. Now is an opportune time for us to step back and take stock -- to understand where we can improve and how the site can be a better resource for the sector.

We’re currently working with an independent evaluation team to assess the impact and effectiveness of WASHfunders and want to hear your thoughts on the site.

If you’re interested in participating, the evaluation team will contact you to conduct a short one-time phone interview. If you would like to contribute to this effort, please contact Seema Shah at sms@foundationcenter.org. Thank you for your help! 

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!

Click to view the full infographic.

Foundation Funding for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

It's World Water Day. And for those of us lucky enough to be able to take clean drinking water for granted, the numbers can be difficult to wrap our heads around. Nearly one billion people globally do not have access to safe water and more than two billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. The implications for the physical, economic, and educational well-being of communities, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, are far-reaching. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted during last year's World Water Day events, "The water crisis is a health crisis, it's a farming crisis, it's an economic crisis, it's a climate crisis, and increasingly, it is a political crisis."

Given the scope and scale of the crisis, what are foundations doing to address the situation?

In conjunction with its work on WASHfunders.org and this week's World Water Day events, the Foundation Center has released a new research brief that summarizes foundation investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene. Among other things, our findings show that support for WASH issues has been on the rise since 2003. Between 2003 and 2010, the number of funders making WASH-related grants jumped from 24 to 78, and that growth was accompanied by a nearly five-fold increase in the number of organizations receiving grants. In 2009-2010, U.S. foundation funding for WASH issues totaled $144 million, up from $11 million in 2003-2004. At the same time, WASH funding, having grown from 0.2 percent in 2003 to 1.7 percent in 2010, remains a very modest portion of international giving by U.S. foundations overall.

Chart of U.S. Foundation Support for WASH

The research brief also highlights the top funders of WASH initiatives. Among private foundations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation continues to be the largest funder of WASH programs, with the foundation's grantmaking comprising half of all WASH funding in 2009-2010. Among corporate foundations, the PepsiCo Foundation leads the way, awarding grants of more than $12 million in 2009-2010.

Philanthropic investments to address safe water, adequate sanitation, and hygiene education are poised to increase in the coming years, with several foundations, including the Margaret Cargill Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund, beginning to develop strategic initiatives focused on WASH issues.

For more data on foundation support for WASH, see the full research brief here.

Save the Date: M&E Twitter Chat on 3/27

Does your organization have a monitoring and evaluation strategy in place? Want to know more about the M&E practices of others in the WASH sector? Eager to share the M&E challenges you’ve faced and lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Building on the energy of World Water Day activities, WASHfunders.org (@WASHfunders) and Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact (TRASI), both projects of the Foundation Center, invite you to join us for a Twitter chat to talk M&E.

Twitter Chat Details

Co-hosts:
Ned Breslin, CEO, Water for People: @NedBreslin
Susan Davis, Founder, Improve International: @Improve_Intl

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 27th (12 – 1PM EDT)

Hashtag: #WASHeval

Confirmed participants: a child’s right (@achildsright); CARE (@brookskeene; @CARE); charity: water (@charitywater); WASH Advocates (@WASH4life); Water and Sanitation Program at the World Bank (@WSPWorldBank); and others

Questions will include the following:

  • What’s the #1 most important indicator to track? Why?
  • Do you involve beneficiaries in M&E? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • Has your organization changed its practices based on M&E findings? How?
  • It’s not always realistic to find impacts upon completing a program. How does that fit into your M&E strategy?
  • Name your favorite WASH rockstars/resources that are creating sustainable solutions

To participate, you'll need a Twitter account. You may also opt to participate using TweetChat, a handy application specifically designed for twitter chats. It feels like an actual chat room and you don’t have to enter the hashtag every time you send a tweet. To sign in, use your twitter login, and then enter WASHeval (without #) into the search field.

If you have any questions, please contact washfunders@foundationcenter.org. Hope to see you in the Twittersphere!

WASHfunders.org icon

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:

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 washfunders@foundationcenter.org.

WASHfunders.org was created with generous support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Read the full press release here.

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