Collaborating for change: lessons learnt from our five-year programmes

Today, the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) have released a report sharing the lessons learnt from the Trust’s five-year avoidable blindness programmes. 

In 2012, the Trust pledged nearly £80 million towards eliminating avoidable blindness and, with support from its partners, has achieved a return of £12 for each £1 invested with additional financial benefits of more than £300 million to individuals affected.

The Trust’s avoidable blindness programmes have worked to combat three major causes of preventable sight loss in the Commonwealth: blinding trachoma, diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity, as well as strengthening the health sector as a whole.

In the report, IVAR have outlined five areas of learning to guide other funders:

  1. Developing strategic focus - for funders interested in framing their work around a tightly defined goal
  2. Values and attributes – for those thinking about how to frame their ways of working to meet the demands of a strategy delivered in close collaboration with others
  3. A partnership approach - for funders interested in developing effective, trust-based partnerships with grantees
  4. Risk and innovation – for those considering their risk appetite and their approach to innovation
  5. Advocacy approach – for funders interested in making best use of their potential to support effective advocacy for change

From the beginning the Trust set itself the objective of not only delivering successful and sustainable programmes to curb blindness from avoidable causes across the Commonwealth, but also to raise awareness of the issue and secure lasting change, owned and led by governments.

Speaking about the report, the Trust’s Chief Executive Dr Astrid Bonfield CBE said:

“Established to deliver five-year programmes, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust had a short time frame in which to make impact at scale. We decided early on that we needed to work in partnership, and ruled out issues where the right partner did not exist. Underpinning the Trust’s work with a strong network of trusted, expert advisors and delivery partners has proved transformational and is something I would repeat without hesitation. In our closing months, we hope by sharing what we have learnt over the past five years will prove useful to other funders who are looking to make a decisive contribution and help improve lives.”

Ben Cairns, Director of the Institute for Voluntary Action Research, added:

“The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s collaborative and focused approach resonates across a number of contemporary debates about the role and contribution of independent funders. With a five-year time frame, they knew they needed to take risks to achieve impact at scale – the urgent problems facing the world today will require adaptation and innovation from both funders and the organisations they fund.”

The Trust was established as a time-limited charitable foundation, to mark and celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth at the time of her Diamond Jubilee. Working to a five-year timeframe, the Trust’s mission has been to enrich the lives of people from all backgrounds within the Commonwealth by working in alliance towards eliminating avoidable blindness and to empower a new generation of young leaders. Sustainability has always been at the core of the Trust’s programmes, ensuring that the work we deliver with our partners will continue long after we close – as a lasting legacy in honour of Her Majesty The Queen.

Read the full report here.