Since the Spindle is half-way through its project-time of 5 years, we decided to carry out a thorough reflection by doing a so-called mid-term review. With this review, we mapped the outcomes to which the Spindle has contributed the last 2,5 years. An interesting, dynamic and sometimes surprising process. The findings served as a guideline for our plans in 2019 (and for the long-term future) since they emphasized which areas and topics we should focus on. Let’s have a sneak peek at the year 2019 because entering the final phase of the year does not only entail reflecting on the past but also looking ahead!
Leave No One Behind
One of the Spindle’s absolute highlights was the project called the Future Exploration, which resulted in the published report: ‘Adapt, Counteract or Transform. The future of Dutch development cooperation’. A team of 35 explorers created four plausible scenarios for the future and a fifth desirable future: A Future We Want. This last scenario consists of a number of fundamental mind shifts in the work of NGOs, including the shift from ‘us in the lead’ to ‘the most affected in the lead’. That is to say, listen to and facilitate the most vulnerable groups that are most affected. Let’s make use of their power to establish change.
Based on these mind shifts we developed the ‘Trickle-Up’ formula. The current predominant neo-liberal approach, also in development policies, favours the higher segments of society through investments and lower taxes, assuming that this also benefits the poor, the so-called ‘Trickle-Down’ principle. However, the trickle-down effect manifests itself as a collateral benefit rather than having a robust impact. Also, the focus is very much on the formal sector and has limited impact on the informal sector, being the biggest sector in many countries.
In 2019, we want to explore and elaborate an alternative or complementary approach in which those who are excluded are considered to be the main target group, under the heading of ‘Trickle-Up’. The Spindle builds on the expertise and lessons learned from amongst others findings by VOICE, and The Leave No One Behind Platform. What are new strategies to address the root causes of exclusion and what are interesting examples of pro-poor design interventions? With the ‘Trickle-Up’ formula, we pursue a great inclusion boost to policies, partnerships, business development, and investments. Resulting in amongst others a strengthened proposition for our lobby and advocacy efforts, revisiting the ways of working with our partners and a new Spindle publication (in collaboration with the Broker) on inclusion.
Besides this new proposition, The Spindle will explore two new topics in relation to inclusion: The Future of Migration and Inclusive Cities.
One of the focus points within this theme will be ‘Rethinking Power and Resources’. How to make sure that people are in charge of their own development? While the alarming trend of shrinking civic space demands a strong civil society that can push back and claim its space, many civil society groups are struggling to even survive. How can we leverage our power as donors and external supporters in ways that are responsible, ethical, and responsive to the needs of non-profits and the communities they serve? In 2019 we want to continue our efforts to explore these key questions and inspire each other on the best ways to achieve to effect long-term change on the issues we all care about. How can we make sure that local civil society and community-based organisations can access resources in ways that truly build strong and resilient communities and put people in charge of their own development? Next year we will share lessons, reflect upon new roles and formulate recommendations for program- and financing mechanisms that put people in charge and strengthen local civil society.
For our communications- and program professionals out there, the Spindle is up to another adventure. Within this theme, we will explore the most effective ways to tell our story of social change. How can we tell our story of social change with the general public in mind, in a way that does justice to our work, our partners and joint results? In 2019, we start with inspiring, learning- and linking sessions on building constructive narratives about the complex long-term achievements of civil society organisations. Let’s explore innovative ways of working with data and storytelling while creating impact-based content!
New Ways of Working Together
We assume that you’ve read the Spindle’s newest publication: Joining forces, sharing power: Civil society collaborations for the future. If not, treat yourself and make sure you’ll get one to read during your well-deserved Christmas break.
In 2019, the Spindle continues to raise interest for new civil society partnerships that are essential for the future. Building on the principles of ‘Shifting the Power’, ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us’, and ‘Trickle-Up’ organisations will be stimulated to rethink their partnerships. Moreover, based on the findings of our future exploration we concluded that the role of existing Internationally Networked NGOs needs to change. With the ‘Future We Want’ in our minds, civil society should adhere to principles of inclusive interconnectedness, with the most affected in the lead and connected capacity. Because it’s not money that should be the main driver for development!
With this vision, The Spindle takes up the challenge in 2019 to start a series of seminars that will support Dutch development organisations in thinking about strategies that will get them future-fit. Also, we continue with our exchange on Internationally Networked NGOs and southern-led partnerships and will draw lessons from the Strategic Partnerships for future programming.
The Innovative Use of Data
One of our main activities for this theme this year was the Efficiency Lab which was established in response to the finding that development organisations, evaluators and practitioners struggle with the concept of efficiency. How to measure and analyse efficiency? Last year (Partos member-) organisations (e.g. WarChild and Simavi) started a pilot based on the Theory of Efficiency, each of them using a different method based on their own situation and goals to measure efficiency. With the insights of the labs, organisations gained expertise to work with the defined methods. In 2019, the findings of these pilot will be presented!
Another focus of next year: Data & Digitalisation strategies. Based on the results of a widespread survey that examined the level of maturity of the Dutch development sector in the field of data and digitalization, two meetings will be organised. Purpose? Stimulating and supporting organisations in strategy development on the basis of good insights of the risks and opportunities of digitalisation.
So, this was our sneak peek at 2019! Sounds exciting right?! The Spindle is looking forward to jumping into it right away! But first, it’s time to slow down a little bit … And of course to thank you as part of our Spindle community. We are very grateful for last year and for everything that we could achieve with the help of our community. All that remains for us to say is:
Happy holidays and all the best (innovative ideas) for 2019!