Building Trust Through Formal and Informal Networks

King Baudouin Foundation Shares how Networks Help a Small Team Manage a Large Portfolio

More than 90 percent of Congolese grantees have come to the foundation via one of our various networks.

Hervé Lisoir, King Baudouin Foundation

The King Baudouin Foundation (KBF), based in Belgium, has funded more than 100 projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), ranging from 10,000 EUR one-year grants to multi-year grants up to 200,000 EUR. With less than two full-time staff dedicated to managing programs in Central Africa (DRC and Burundi), finding strategic efficiencies is important. Creating a network of trusted partners and collaborators has been essential for KBF to strategically manage its sizable and growing portfolio. Being a part of formal and informal networks helps to inform KBF’s grantmaking and find partners that better align with its mission: to help to improve living conditions for the population.

Working in the DRC, a former Belgian colony, is an important part of KBF’s overall strategy, as is the case for many Belgian donor and implementing organizations. Besides the deep and fruitful (and sometimes difficult) relations between the two countries, the presence of many Belgian-based organizations has created an informal network that stretches from Belgium to the DRC, driving collaboration and informing partnerships. Funders connect with one another to flag organizations that fit various funding criteria, and to hone strategies to more acutely meet needs. KBF project manager for Africa and developing countries, Hervé Lisoir, shares that this has influenced the funding landscape in the DRC: “Being networked is a valuable attribute for grantseekers. I remember a very small, local community-based organization from the province of Bas-Congo that heard of KBF through another, larger Congolese organization. This small organization worked to develop its own network of contacts, despite its limited resources, to connect to KBF. Civil society organizations are adapting as they realize the important role that introductions and recommendations have in garnering funding.”

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The Marie-Antoinette Carlier Fund

Leveraging Management
Committees

When the foundation established the Marie-Antoinette Carlier Fund in 2009 from a legacy contribution, it invited trusted peer funders with deep ties in Central Africa to join the management committee with the intent of improving collaboration, communication, and information sharing. Alain Philippson, of Fondation Marie et Alain Philippson (Philippson Foundation), was invited to join the fund’s management committee. In 2013, thanks to a recommendation by the Philippson Foundation, KBF was introduced to and began funding APPUI CONGO. “Alain knew the grantee would be a good fit for KBF because the Philippson Foundation itself had been closely involved with APPUI CONGO since 2009. Alain could speak to their mission, strategy, and leadership with firsthand knowledge,” shares Hervé. KBF, who works with men, women, and youth, wanted to more strategically invest in young women and girls. This partnership offered KBF the opportunity to support a grantee with women and girls at the forefront of its initiatives.

We need to work together to build fruitful partnerships and build trusted networks to improve collaboration and in turn the impact of projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Hervé Lisoir, King Baudouin Foundation