As grantees spend time in the field, building upon expertise and knowledge, Wagner Foundation also looks for ways to support their larger mission. Our Do, Learn, Share methodology seeks to balance immediate action with ongoing study and communication.
Organizations cannot always be expected to undertake challenging problems with a perfect understanding of what form solutions will ultimately take. A crisis may require immediate action whether the world is prepared for it or not.
At the same time, research, self-study, information sharing, and communications must not be overlooked given their role in achieving long-term, sustainable impact. Investing in "doing, learning, and sharing" as mutually supporting activities aims to help organizations be more impactful, empirically-minded, and accessible.
We cannot afford to wait. The lack of obvious solutions to difficult problems should not discourage bold action where it is needed most. Our grantee support ranges from individual programs to general operating support; whatever is required to address the immediate needs of the community in a timely manner.
Taking time for reflection or to conduct research allows for a better understanding of a problem; including whether or not solutions are effective. To overcome challenging problems, we must also see "failure" as instructive for future work, rather than a disappointment. Investing in the study of both new and ongoing work through research, white papers, etc., results in better and more sustainable outcomes.
Everyone benefits from the knowledge of important work and the mission behind it. From marketing and communications to knowledge-sharing within the grantee community, outreach and dialogue opens new possibilities. We can avoid common problems and accomplish more when organizations fully embrace knowledge-sharing in all its forms.
Root Capital is committed to transforming the lives of rural women through their Women In Agriculture Initiative (WAI). The WAI was launched in 2012 and seeks to promote greater economic opportunity for women by supporting small and growing businesses with access to credit and financial training and by promoting gender-inclusive practices. In 2016, as a component of the WAI, Root Capital launched Gender Equity Grants (GEGs) starting in Kenya, which are small disbursements of capital where female employees, producers, managers, and other stakeholders identify specific places where the money is needed most in order to build greater inclusion of women within the workplace. Some examples of how the GEGs were used include, building a daycare center and creating a savings and loans program.
Wagner Foundation has supported the work of Root Capital since 2009 and specifically the WAI since 2015. In 2017, Wagner Foundation increased its funding of the WAI with a multi-year grant to scale up the GEGs and Advisory Services (trainings) to reach more women.
In addition to scaling up the GEGs and Advisory Services, this grant included capacity for an analysis of the GEGs in Kenya, one year after implementation, to identify the social and commercial impacts of the grants. Root Capital partnered with Value for Women to conduct the analysis, which was then pulled into a formal report and published on both of our websites. The business-level outcomes highlighted in the report included increased worker satisfaction, loyalty, attendance and productivity. Individual-level benefits included income gains, greater confidence, and cooperation among workers.
Wagner Foundation and Root Capital have combined forces on many occasions to amplify the work within the Do and the Learn phases mentioned above. We created an op-ed published in the online news source, Philanthropy Women, titled “Why Feminist Philanthropy? For All the Relationship Reasons”, which resulted in the article, at the time, becoming the #1 post of all time for that publication. We co-created a panel in partnership with New England International Donors bringing together cross-sector leaders titled “Putting Women at the Center: How Donors and Nonprofits can Better Partner to Accelerate Gender Equality and Development Outcomes”. We have also contributed to a webinar with Root Capital discussing the next phase of the WAI to almost 400 participants. All of the items mentioned above were promoted on our social channels and website.