Through a mix of capital and bespoke mentoring, we help community-based organizations realize their own collective visions of safe, strong and nurturing environments where children and youth thrive and can fulfill their potential.
When selecting our partners, we look for the indicators of a well-functioning organization: effective leadership with a competent team, basic management, good programming, and a creative leveraging of resources.
We identify potential grantee-partners through open calls for proposals and by tapping local networks in Africa. Through our due diligence process, we select organizations that have honesty and integrity, deep community roots, respect for children’s rights, a clear vision, sound strategy, and a track record for achieving results by working in partnership with the communities they serve. We assess proposals for clear problem statements, innovative ideas, and a solid focus on programmatic quality. We have also learned that we must seek out organizations that demonstrate effective leadership, an entrepreneurial spirit, and creativity.
We’ve found there are three key factors necessary for community approaches to stopping poverty. These are often the factors that make Firelight partners stand apart from the rest:
- Strong community roots
- Empowerment approach
- Culture of learning and adapting
Strong community roots demonstrates a good understanding of local needs, available resources, and social capital to put plans into action. An empowerment approach enhances the capability of families and communities to solve problems holistically and sustain the solutions. A culture of learning and adapting allows organizations to develop new solutions to common problems and continually improve on those efforts. Our funding application process is interactive to allow for dialogue. We also gather information from others to inform our due diligence.
We identify strong community partners, fund their work with children, families, and communities, and strengthen their institutions so they can sustain the work for the long term. We engage with them to learn and evaluate so that we can document impact and understand what strategies are effective. Our four-stage, seven-year partnership helps organizations to grow their programs serving children and families, and to develop systems to ensure their continued work toward stopping poverty in the long-term.
Building a relationship with our partners is central to our grantmaking approach. Our funding application process is interactive. We engage a process to allow for dialogue. We also gather information from others to inform our due diligence.
By funding both operational costs and program costs, we provide the resources necessary to allow for effective delivery of support and services. Grant amounts are sized to match the capacity of the organization and increased over time to facilitate measured growth. Our partnership expectations are explicit so that our partners know what is required to progress from one stage to the next. Staff evaluate progress at the end of each stage to decide if the partnership should continue. Trust, respect, and mutual accountability foster our joint success.
We lay a strong foundation for organizational effectiveness by working with organizations to strengthen management and improve programming.
Our African-based program consultants mentor, train, and link our partners to sources of technical assistance. We also connect current partners with our graduates to facilitate peer learning and networking. Firelight partners demonstrate growth in their number of staff, budget, and most importantly, children and families served.
Learn and evaluate
We use a variety of approaches to learn from and with our partners. Ongoing dialogue with partners helps us to deepen our understanding of their achievements as well as engage with challenges they encounter. As we analyze information and data, we gain insights about the changes that are possible, and how the work of community organizations is most effectively carried out.
The ultimate value of our learning is found in using the knowledge from our work to improve our practice, to help organizations improve their own practice, and to inform the work of other funders and supporters of community organizations.
We are committed to partnership. Our partnerships are based on trust, appreciation, shared values, and goals. Authentic partnerships require respect and mutual accountability. We work to achieve this in all that we do.
Our partnerships are built on the following:
- Appreciating local strengths: We start our partnerships by appreciating the strengths of local organizations: their agility, resourcefulness, social capital, and knowledge of local context. We build on these strengths to address other capacity gaps. With the right support, organizations grow into effective establishments.
- Strengthening community action: Self-help and mutual assistance are part and parcel of the way of life and survival of communities in Africa. We invest in organizations that leverage these community assets and strengthen them by building community knowledge and skills.
- Responsive approach: When local communities are the drivers of action to stop poverty they have greater levels of ownership and invest in sustained change. We support the priorities that are relevant to the local context and needs.
- Building relationships: The quality of our interactions with our partners enables an open discussion about their strengths, challenges, successes, and needs. This also allows Firelight staff to both encourage and support partners, which helps them gain confidence and promote their own work.
- Long-term view: The work of improving the lives of children and families is difficult and takes time. Our seven-year partnership provides stability in funding and a realistic time frame for building the capacity of organizations to help them mature into established and sustainable fixtures in the community that are well run and have effective programs and services.
- Africa | South
South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya