Reports, Videos & Blogs: Shifting Systems

2022 Webinars

Building on earlier findings from the Shifting Systems Initiative, please view a recording of a recent workshop with Asia Venture Philanthropy Network focusing on how funders can better support and partner with grantees, prioritize flexible and responsive giving, and explore how the momentous events of the last two years have compelled many funders to pivot.

Panelists include:

  • Angeline Chin, Johnson & Johnson
  • Nina Gené, Jasmine Social Investments
  • Nadir Shams, Skoll Foundation
  • Naina Subberwal Batra, AVPN
  • Tim Hanstad, Chandler Foundation
  • Heather Grady, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (moderator)

View the recording here and stay tuned for more updates in 2022.

Country Deep-Dive Workshops

In 2019-2020, RPA conducted Scaling Solutions deep dives in three countries using a workshop process that includes preparatory research and interviews, as well as a follow-up plan based on commitments made in the workshops. Reports from those workshops are below.

  • Workshop Report – Narrowing the Rural Equity Gap in Colombia (with a focus on SDGs 8 and 16). Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Asociación de Fundaciones Familiares y Empresariales (AFE) (Colombia) convened in Bogotá, Columbia in early 2020 with a goal of determining how philanthropic funders can better support Colombia in narrowing the rural equity gap by a) working more collaboratively, b) placing longer-term, more adaptive resources with those they fund, and c) using a ‘systems change’ lens in how they fund.
  • Workshop Report – Scaling Impact toward Systems Change: Exploring Gender Equality Efforts in India. This was the second workshop of the series and was held in New Delhi. RPA created it in collaboration with Ashoka University’s Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy to focus on SDG 5, achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Ashoka is a private research university with a focus on liberal arts, located in Haryana in India. The Centre is India’s first academic hub focused on enabling strategic and robust philanthropy for social impact.
  • Workshop Report – Scaling Impact toward Systems Change: Exploring Good Health for All in Kenya. In the first of the 2019-20 country deep dives, RPA explored more deeply what collaborating for systems change looks like in a particular geographic area on a specific theme, in order to help funders understand the importance of local context and partnerships. The theme of this Kenya-based workshop focused on health and the determinants of health. For Kenya and most countries, achieving this goal requires greatly scaled-up solutions where at least some philanthropic funders adopt a systems approach. This type of approach includes but is not limited to addressing root causes, shifting mindsets and behaviors, supporting improved policies and implementation of those policies, and understanding and addressing power dynamics. This blog post on Leveraging Partnerships to Shift Systems in Kenya provides additional insight on the workshop held in Kenya.
Assessing Systems Change

In August 2019, RPA co-hosted a 3-day workshop in response to great interest in deeply exploring the question of how to monitor and evaluate systems change, since this is different from assessing a specific project, program, or grant. Led by outstanding, thoughtful experts on evaluation of systems change including Margaret Hargreaves, Glenn Page, and Zenda Ofir, the workshop was designed around three key themes: seeing systems change, facilitating systems change, and assessing systems change. The full report is available here: Workshop Report – Assessing Systems Change.

Building an Impact Economy

The Summit at Race Brook in July 2018 brought together several dozen leaders from three continents across the themes of systems thinking, philanthropy, impact investing, and ‘new economy’ models. Regardless of the specific approaches each favored, all attendees shared an interest in creating economic, financial and investment systems that serve people and planet. The organizers (including RPA) created the short-hand term ‘impact economy’ to represent this perspective. The output from the convening is here: Workshop Report – Philanthropy Transforming Finance: Building an Impact Economy.

In addition, as a result of this convening, Building an Impact Economy: A Call to Action was released in February 2019. It calls for philanthropic organizations to use their capital in a way that more directly supports the development of an impact economy and to align their investments and actions overall with the underlying values inherent in an impact economy.

Collaboration as a Means for Scaling Solutions: Event Videos
  • In celebration of the launch of the 2018 publication, Scaling Solutions toward Shifting Systems: Approaches for Impact, Approaches for Learning, RPA and the Skoll Foundation convened funders, grantees, and philanthropic collaboratives for an interactive discussion about their successes and challenges in creating systems change. The Facebook Live video for that session is here: Event Video – Scaling Solutions and Shifting Systems: The Power of Collaboration.
Additional Materials
  • Workshop Report – RPA Hosts Workshop in Bogotá, Colombia. In March 2018, RPA co-hosted a workshop on Scaling Solutions in Bogotá. Conversations amongst the sixty participants representing corporate, family, and operating foundations in Colombia also centered on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the Theory of the Foundation initiative, and strategic time horizons in philanthropy.
  • Blog – We Need to Talk about Systems Change. What does systems change mean to you?  Like so many other terms, you may think this phrase is straightforward until you actually begin talking about it–at which point you slowly begin to realize that what it means to you is not necessarily what it means to someone else.