The Alexander Associates Charter
India has some of the world’s worst public health outcomes in the world. A prime example is maternal and child health – over one million children under five die every year from largely avoidable causes; of the ones who survive, over a third are malnourished. Often, there are simple, well known solutions. The health of a child is to a large extent determined by the health of her mother in the ante-natal period. Preventing and treating anaemia during pregnancy is crucial. Looked at in isolation, the solution is straightforward – nutritious diet, and iron and folic acid tablets.
The real challenge is in scaling up the delivery of this and other known solutions at district, state and national levels. Then, seemingly impossible barriers to scale become evident – such as that of gender equity, social norms, physical access, livelihood compulsions, literacy – ultimately problems of poverty. A pregnant or lactating woman may not be able to voice her needs in a patriarchal household; she may be a daily wage labourer with no time to go for ante-natal check-ups.
Alexander Associates sets out to help donors and implementors, together break through this logjam.
Givers and Receivers in Sub-optimal Relationship
Today, there is a massive wave of giving. In 2016, philanthropy from private individuals stood at approximately Rs 36,000 crores, increased almost six times from 2011. CSR spending is growing rapidly. The people and agencies who give so generously are looking for measurable impact at scale.
There are also hundreds of thousands of implementing agencies. They range from individual experts, to small and medium sized NGOs, and large foundations. Irrespective of size, these implementors would like donors who are willing to support, and add independent value. Government plays a double role – as both the biggest funder and implementor.
The problem is that the relationship between donor and NGO is often sub-optimal, effectively a ‘head and legs’ model. The donor comes up with the idea, without necessarily understanding the ground situation. The ‘good’ NGO then implements the donor’s wishes exactly, without asking if there is a better way.
These roles must be reversed. Implementing NGOs are closest to the ground and should be the ones coming up with creative solutions that can deliver impact at scale. They should then seek out donors who are prepared to listen, further develop the idea, provide funds, and stay involved working in true partnership. Such donors need not even have much prior knowledge about the issue. Primarily they want an implementor with clear understanding, and experience in delivery at scale.
Our goal is to help create this new game, for a more effective social sector. We set out to do this through three service lines:
• The Knowledge Network: A key reason implementing NGOs struggle to solve large problems is that they do not share knowledge. We are engaged in the creation of a Knowledge Network that incentivises and enables implementors to share solutions. We look for donors and NGOs who would see value in participating in this network-in-creation.
• Program Delivery Support: Sometimes programs are ill-conceived. Others are well designed but get stuck in implementation. We offer hands-on advisory and intervention services to optimise program delivery. This includes help in strategy development, program design, troubleshooting, and ongoing implementation support.
• Human Capital Development: Effective social sector delivery usually needs a multi-functional team. We offer advisory services aimed at attracting, exciting and retaining outstanding talent. We also offer training ranging from specific delivery methods, to more personalised training in leadership and communications.
The Alexander Associates Charter