by Gautam Ramnath
It is often said that the journey is as important as the destination. That is particularly true when it comes to innovating the way we deliver strategic philanthropy, a process with an inherent risk-reward calculus. As educated philanthropists, we naturally focus on results and the risks involved to attain them. However, an investment in the process undertaken to launch the innovation is perhaps a better indicator of a sustainable level of reward and impact, for both participants and the organization as a whole.
APC’s effort over the last 18 months to battle stunting in Indonesia through the 1000 Days Fund (TDF) exemplifies the kind of innovation and requisite journey that needed to be undertaken to ensure that development work is evolving to meet the region’s needs. Doing things for the first time is always a challenge. Doing them at a $10 million scale while charting a new path, with a new collective of donors is even harder. But the journey that the Donor Working Group has taken has left us stronger for all our future endeavors.
The group negotiated multiple pain points, both administrative and technical, managing to reach consensus around diverse and strongly held positions. Our ability to do so positively impacted our collective cohesion while driving the progression of individual philanthropic learning journeys. The impact of this process has not only made the program more robust but has also launched complimentary philanthropic efforts, such as those of Simon Flint and his 1000 Hari height chart movement, currently at the national discourse level in Indonesia.
The TDF is truly representative of the APC Lotus logo, wherein the strength of the organization is formed through the intersections of its individual petals. While results are important, when implementing innovation, the process is paramount as it requires individuals to think outside of the box and their comfort zones, to test assumptions, and most important of all – learn how to accept a certain amount of risk. That’s a growth process, and one that leaves the whole even stronger for the curation of a unique brand of Asian philanthropy.