Collaboration is essential for driving social change. Yet, with many players involved – grassroots activists, funders, technologists, governments – it can be challenging to build partnerships that truly advance gender justice in the digital age.
That’s why the recent webinar hosted by the African Philanthropy Forum, “Leveraging the Currency of Collaboration at the Intersection of Gender Justice and Digital Technology,” and moderated by The International Social Impact Institute CEO, Elizabeth Ngonzi, offered such valuable insights.
As Mosun Layode, Executive Director of the African Philanthropy Forum, opened the webinar, “Our goal is really to demonstrate the power of collaboration and the pathways it creates for pulling resources and the support that we require in this space to drive the emergence of an ecosystem that supports organizations working at the intersection of gender justice and digital technology.”
The esteemed panelists, with decades of combined experience, illuminated best practices for cross-sector collaborations.
Quality Over Quantity
As Latanya Mapp Frett, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, made clear, it’s not just about having partnerships, but building quality partnerships. This means taking the time to understand how you can benefit each other, beyond any initial funding relationship.
Oftentimes, Mapp Frett explained, it’s the time spent together in the trenches that forms the foundation of trust so critical for successful collaborations. Rushing into transactional relationships too quickly backfires.
Patience and Persistence Pay Off
Effective collaborations take time. Dr. English Sall, of the Sall Family Foundation, pointed to an example that took nearly a decade to fully deliver impact at scale. Progress goes at the pace of trust, Sall noted. Having patience for a partnership to mature is key.
Ultimately, a collaboration is successful if it empowers the community it seeks to serve. As Alberto Cerda Silva of the Ford Foundation put it, initiatives should be community-led, not donor-led. By being flexible and responsive to on-the-ground needs and opportunities, funders can avoid misaligned assumptions.
Share Credit, Check Egos
In Sall’s words, “It’s a movement if it moves without you.” Collaborations should distribute credit across partners. The goal is advancing the cause, not one’s reputation. This requires showing up ego-free and willing to take on humble roles when needed.
Conflict stemming from different viewpoints is inevitable. As Silva shared, avoiding areas where quick consensus is unlikely is tempting but detrimental. Lean into the discomfort of working through tensions together, which breeds innovation.
Lift the Veil
Philanthropic organizations still tend to be opaque. As Melizsa Mugyenyi of the World Data Lab noted, collaborations provide incentives for funders to be more transparent and share information, raising standards while avoiding duplication. In Mugyenyi’s view, “When you’re engaged and aware of what others in the sector are doing it forces you to think about your place in the ecosystem.”
We are Stronger Together
No single organization can address the complex challenges at the intersection of gender justice and technology alone. Through collaborations that are thoughtful, equitable, bold, and centered on community, we gain the synergy needed to drive change.
The panelists demonstrated that patience, persistence, and compassion for partners takes collaboration beyond good intentions into constructive action. These lessons provide guideposts for funders and advocates striving to co-create impact.
To watch the recording of this engaging conversation to learn more from the speakers, click HERE.
To learn about The International Social Impact Institute, click HERE.