Tools and instruments

The Horizontality Gauge

A tool and self assessment process that CPOs  in Africa use to improve grantmaking practice

  • Problem: There is a widespread problem –Community Foundations and CPOs continually strive to improve their practice. Doing good development work and being effective is their business.
  • The purpose of developing the HG responds to the value placed on “community” by Community Foundations and other CPOs. In fact building on what is local – the community’s own leadership, resources, priorities, ways of making decisions is regarded as a strategic advantage of these types of development vehicles compared to other NGOs.  Yet, in reality  placing community at the centre of grant making does not always happen. This pull downward (horizontally) to respond to and favour how the community helps itself can be compromised by the upward pull (vertically) experienced by a CPO given back donor demands and their own need for accountability. In short there is a Lucy Bernholtz argues a gap between aspiration and practice. Building the organisation that take precedence over building community.
  • The key to addressing this issue is first for CPO to be able to assess what their grant making behaviour is and determine whether it leans toward what the aid industry wants or the needs of the community.  Only when organisation can gauge their behaviour can they even begin to improve their practice  for increasing development effectiveness in particular around sustainability ensuring that they change the help bring about will indeed endure by  being embedded in  community.
  • What is it: The HG is a questionnaire that staff of CPOs complete individually before all scores are combined. The process is done in house, takes up to three hours and includes a staff discussion and interpretation of organisational behaviour in respect to community grantmaking.
  • This instrument is low cost. It is done in house and engages all staff involved in grantmaking.
  •  The CPO can benefit but so can backdonors. They can see the ways in which their own demands on the Community Foundation and CPO can actually pull them away  from a focus on community and putting this first . The results of the gauge can infact be part of donor education and the starting point for an honest discussion between Community Foundations and CPO and back donors about how this relationship affects their practice and performance.
The Horizontality Gauge