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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.

Programme
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

  • Advocacy

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.

John Oldfield, CEO of WASH Advocates

Editor’s Note: Leading up to the U.S. Philanthropy and WASH seminar at World Water Week on 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, John Oldfield, CEO of WASH Advocates, discusses the need for stronger political will to solve the WASH crisis, as well as the link between WASH and nutrition. In yesterday’s post, John Thomas examined the role that philanthropic investment can play in cultivating innovative WASH solutions.

1. Describe what your organization does and what your role is.

WASH Advocates is a nonprofit, nonpartisan initiative entirely dedicated to helping solve the global safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenge. Our mission is to raise awareness of WASH issues, and convert that heightened awareness into increased financial and political capital throughout the developing world.

The only way the world will achieve universal coverage of safe drinking water and sanitation is if every government (at national, provincial, and municipal levels) prioritizes WASH for all of its citizens. As the CEO, I look for ways to influence WASH-related public policy and country budgets, and I look for advocacy allies from civil society groups, philanthropists, corporations, and faith communities across the globe.

2. Tell us one provocative question or issue you hope to tackle on the U.S. Philanthropy and WASH panel, and why.

People interested in solving the global WASH challenge often ask “Why is there still a WASH problem in 2012?” A recurring answer from many in the sector is: “…because of a lack of political will,” but then the conversation dies since no one really knows what that means. The question I’d like to see this panel tackle is “How does one create political will in each developing country with high rates of WASH poverty, and how can the international donor community help catalyze and convert that strengthened political will into stronger policies and increased budgets for WASH in those countries?”

WASH Advocates works with a number of global, regional, and local partners around the world who are encouraging their own governments to increasingly prioritize WASH. We are looking for ways to strengthen the capacity of country-level civil society groups to work more closely with their elected leaders, because the ‘end game’ for the global WASH challenge is not what we in the international donor community can do, but rather what public sector leaders in developing countries can accomplish sustainably with their own taxpayer resources.

Working with governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America is often contentious and time-consuming. However, WASH Advocates contends that the quickest way to true scale in the WASH sector is to involve governments from day one of the design phase of any sizeable WASH programs. This will lead to increased program sustainability in the short-term, and to scale (not just scalability) over the long run.

3. What are you most looking forward to about Stockholm and/or World Water Week?

WASH Advocates is attending World Water Week 2012 to explore the myriad connections between political leaders and WASH across the globe, both in developed and developing countries. Advocacy is not (yet) sexy, and we will be looking for ways to make WASH advocacy more tangible and attractive to civil society leaders, WASH program experts, and the international donor community.

Every political leader anywhere in the developed and developing world wants to prioritize WASH in his or her budget; it is not difficult to garner support for this issue. Our job at WASH Advocates is to help change the political equation, e.g., to minimize the political risk that political leaders must incur if they prioritize WASH among many other equally important development challenges. Political leaders are motivated to act if they hear about a challenge from their own people, and if they understand how the challenge is solvable.

During World Water Week, I am also particularly interested in the linkages between WASH and under-nutrition in children in developing countries. It is under-recognized that unsafe water and inadequate sanitation cause approximately half of childhood under-nutrition. This year’s World Water Week theme will facilitate opportunities for the WASH and nutrition sectors to discuss more integrated programming. 

John Thomas, Fellow, The Rockefeller Foundation

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, John Thomas, fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation, speaks about the role that philanthropic investment can play in cultivating innovative WASH solutions. In yesterday’s post, Braimah Apambire discussed the importance of advocacy for the WASH sector.

1. Describe what your organization does and what your role is.

I’m currently a fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation, where I conduct research and work with our partners and grantees to support the strategic development of various initiatives ranging from climate smart agriculture to fisheries management to water service delivery for poor or vulnerable populations.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission to promote the well-being of people throughout the world has remained unchanged since its founding in 1913. Today, that mission is applied to an era of rapid globalization. Our vision is that this century will be one in which globalization’s benefits are more widely shared and its challenges are more easily weathered.

To realize this vision, the Foundation seeks to achieve two fundamental goals in our work. First, we seek to build resilience that enhances individual, community and institutional capacity to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of acute crises and chronic stresses. Second, we seek to promote growth with equity in which the poor and vulnerable have more access to opportunities that improve their lives. In order to achieve these goals, the Foundation constructs its work into time-bound initiatives that have defined objectives and strategies for impact. These initiatives address challenges that lie either within or at the intersections of five issue areas: basic survival safeguards, global health, environment and climate change, urbanization, and social and economic security. For more information, please visit our web site.

2. Tell us one provocative question or issue you hope to tackle on the U.S. Philanthropy and WASH panel, and why.

One theme of the U.S. Philanthropy and WASH panel is innovation, which is perhaps one of the most over-used words in the English language. While philanthropic funds are often viewed as ‘risk capital’ and in theory foundations should have greater latitude to support ideas, organizations, and people that are pushing the boundaries of accepted practice, in reality foundations often choose the sure bets over the promising new idea, resulting in a critical gap.

I’m excited to chat with Rockefeller Foundation’s partner, Mary Renwick from Winrock International, about her experience as an innovator in the field of water and sanitation, and to really push the foundation community to be clear about what it is we mean by innovation, and how we support innovation in the water, health, and sanitation field.

3. What are you most looking forward to about Stockholm and/or World Water Week?

While there certainly are an incredible array of panels, seminars, and speakers to hear, I’m most excited for the chance encounters in the hallway after the seminars, or the coffee shop conversations where I can learn about interesting new work, and meet people who I haven’t met before, to learn in an unfiltered and informal way about the state of the field.

Braimah Apambire, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

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.

David Rothschild, Principal of the Portfolio Team at the Skoll Foundation

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, David Rothschild, principal of the Skoll Foundation’s portfolio team, speaks about the Foundation’s focus on social entrepreneurship and rethinking traditional funder-grantee relationships to drive large scale change. 

1. Describe what your organization does and what your role is.

The Skoll Foundation drives large scale change by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems. Jeff Skoll created The Skoll Foundation in 1999 to pursue his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. Social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents — creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world for the better. By identifying the people and programs already bringing positive change around the world, we empower them to extend their reach, deepen their impact, and fundamentally improve society.

We are now one of the leading foundations in the field of social entrepreneurship. Over the past 12 years, we have awarded more than $315 million, including investments in 91 remarkable social entrepreneurs and 74 organizations on five continents around the world that are creating a brighter future for underserved communities. In addition to our grantmaking, we fund a $20 million+ portfolio of program-related and mission-aligned investments. In 2003, we partnered with the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford to launch the first academic center dedicated to social entrepreneurship, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

The Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship celebrates organizations with high impact innovations that have a proven track record and are poised to scale their impact. Each year the foundation awards 4 to 6 organizations, led by an individual social entrepreneur. The award comes with 3 years of core support funding, usually between $750k and $1.5m total. Along with the award comes significant recognition; the organization becomes part of our family of Skoll Awardees, qualifying it for other opportunities. More information about the Skoll Awards, applications, and criteria can be found here.

Beyond investments and partnerships, we also host the annual Skoll World Forum, the premier conference on social entrepreneurship, and share the stories of social entrepreneurs through partnerships with leading film and broadcast organizations, such as the PBS NewsHour and the Sundance Institute, which help drive public awareness of social entrepreneurship and its potential to address the critical issues of our time.

As a principal of the portfolio team, I manage a variety of key relationships, including funded social entrepreneurs, domain experts, policy makers, corporate partners and co-funders. I develop and structure funding opportunities to drive large scale change in the focus areas of the foundation, with a special emphasis on water and sanitation, as well as tropical deforestation.

2. Tell us one provocative question or issue you hope to tackle on the U.S. Philanthropy and WASH panel, and why. 

How can funders and potential grantees get past the “hogwash?” “Reporting” in the traditional sense goes just one way — from grantee to funder. This often ends up as data for the archives. How can we capture information in a way that’s useful for better decision-making by both funders and grantees?

The organizations doing the work on the ground are the ones implementing WASH strategies — they are the ones testing new ideas and approaches, learning from mistakes, and engaging directly with the communities and individuals that need improved WASH outcomes. Ideally, they are constantly innovating and adjusting. Yet traditional funder-grantee relationships can discourage or even stifle innovation. Funder-grantee relationships can be blurred by the desires of funders to only hear about the “impacts” their specific funding is driving, or by NGOs painting an unrealistically rosy picture hoping that funding may follow. Real world learning that leads to improved outcomes often results from talking openly about mistakes and actually making the big course corrections that can be so hard to do. When a funder and grantee have signed a grant agreement focused on specific activities targeting explicit outcomes, a grantee can become wedded to those activities, even if a course correction would actually improve those very outcomes. And if that is true, then what are the impacts that foundations really reward? What’s the behavior change that could unwind this perpetuation of only rewarding successful short-term implementations? How can funders and grantees use reporting processes productively to inform decision-making and achieve desired long-term outcomes? Can we do more to fund on-the-ground, real-time innovation? What are some of the best practices that ensure funder-grantee relationships that drive large scale change — the high impact outcomes we all want?

3. What are you most looking forward to about Stockholm and/or World Water Week?

I haven’t been to World Water Week for a few years, so I am looking forward to reconnecting with friends and colleagues, meeting some new folks, and learning about the latest research, innovations, and progress in the field. 

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