SDGPP Brazil Scales Up Solutions for Integrated Impact

Samuel Stalls • 9 August 2018

Philanthropy is vital as leverage capital for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since Brazil is a nearly continent-sized country, local level innovation should be implemented at scale so change can move from simply incremental to transformative and system shifting. Partner foundations in the SDG Philanthropy Platform (SDG PP) in Brazil recognize this need and to help scale up their solutions, SDG PP Brazil invited its partners to Sao Paulo for a day and a half workshop led by Heather Grady and Donzelina Barroso of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA). Approximately forty people from twenty-four organizations attended and heard how a strong Theory of The Foundation aids in scaling solutions and refining systems thinking.


Theory of the Foundation

To be effective, foundations must have a clear sense of identity. Donzelina Barroso, RPA’s director for global philanthropy, shared a blueprint for foundations developed from both RPA’s experience and Peter Drucker’s theory of business. This blueprint is based on three core elements: charter, social compact, and capabilities. Charters govern the internal functions of a foundation. They can be either flexible or inflexible and are products of a foundation’s history. The social compact sets parameters on how a foundation interacts with outside groups and its role in society. Capabilities dictate a foundations level of impact and effectiveness. Read more below:

English: Click here to download

Portuguese: Click here to download


Scaling Solutions Towards Shifting Systems

Scaling requires productive partnerships between funders and grantees. RPA released a report entitled “Scaling Solutions Towards Shifting Systems” where grantee organizations laid out suggestions to improve relationships with funder organizations and examples where shifts in donor-grantee relations resulted in concrete improvements. The recommendations included improvements in empowering, learning, and collaborating with grantees. The Portuguese version of the report was released for the first time during the workshop. Read more below:

English: Click here to download

Portuguese: Click here to download 

Dan Berlowitz of Spring Impact skyped in from San Francisco and presented Spring Impacts five-step scaling methodology. Implementation of each step is dependent on a clear understanding of the level of organizational control required from the original organization. Berlowitz used the example of an agricultural program started in Africa to demonstrate how the methodology works in the real world.


Systems Thinking

Heather Grady emphasized problem diagnosis, an early step in system thinking. Depending on the interactions of a number of factors, problems can be simple, complicated, complex, or chaotic and each type of problem requires different types of solutions. Solutions can range from simple (i.e. best practices), emerge from a drawn-out dialogue between stakeholders, or novel, totally new and different.

Deep, transformative solutions are required for the SDGs. Human societies are complex, and achieving impact requires massive global resource redirection and in some cases, non-linear timelines. SDG PP Brazil has already identified specific SDGs so leverage points for system change and Heather Grady also identified particular systems transformation levers and pushed participants to refine their methodologies to incorporate these methods. The report below synthesizes the relationship between philanthropy and the SDGs in Brazil and summarizes the systems thinking principles partners have used to map out future endeavours.  

"Philanthropy and the SDGs” (English): Click here to download

"Filantropia e os ODS” (Portugee): Click here to download

SDG PP Brazil is providing its partners with resources to help their collaborative prototypes and their institutional project to scale. Effective scaling foundations to understand themselves, their relationships with their fundees, scaling methodologies, and systems thinking. In order to achieve the SDGs, philanthropy in Brazil will seek deep systemic transformation through massive global resource redirection to support integrated impact solutions capable of being rapidly replicated.