Challenges in managing MAVA’s final chapterMarch 21, 2019
By Lynda Mansson, Director General
MAVA is reaching the half way point on its final strategy covering 2016-2022. As we enter our final chapter, there are some inherent challenges any foundation in such a situation would face. From some partners who still believe funding will continue, to persistent high levels of partner dependency, MAVA staff are confronted with some tricky situations to manage. This leads to some changes in our standard way of operating some of which are discussed below.
Mid-term check on progress
The MAVA strategy is oriented around action towards 4-8 specific outcomes per programme. These are meant to be measurable and achievable and are mainly about reducing threats to biodiversity. Partners involved collectively defined the action plans to reach the outcomes by 2022. We are soon approaching the mid-point of implementation and will conduct a mid-term evaluation to review progress to date and identify any changes that should be made to the plans.
This means exercising adaptive management for our last phase of funding to ensure that we are investing in ways that will achieve the highest impact. Though plans were set for the full period of the strategy, this is the moment to assess what can be done better and what could be stopped or de-emphasised.
One of the biggest challenges has been delays in implementation. This is sometimes due to problems hiring key staff, difficulties in coordinating amongst partners or simply a lack of urgency.
However, as we get closer to 2022, our ability to tolerate delays diminishes. We are intent on achieving the greatest impact possible. Thus, we will need to consider whether to launch into a new project if is has been delayed in getting off the ground – no matter what the reason. Adaptive management leads us in reviewing our initial expectations, assessing what has been done over the last three years and in being realistic (and rational) concerning what can be accomplished by the end of our strategy, even if this means taking some difficult decisions.
Dynamic fund-allocation management
Our intention is to ensure that all funds at our disposal have been spent effectively before the end of 2022. We would consider it a failure to arrive at the end and discover that we have significant underspending in the projects or large amounts of funding that never made it out the door of MAVA.
To address this, we have implemented some extraordinary measures. These include requesting 6-monthly financial reports to be able to monitor spending and also more stringent rules on reallocating funding that has not been spent or committed. This is all with an aim to maximizing impact of our funding and being able to celebrate major achievements by 2022.
Meanwhile we have also planned for the allocation of all available funding, earmarking funds for specific purposes some of which are still ideas that need shaping. We will work to get these ideas implemented efficiently as early in the cycle as possible to make best use of our funds.
High levels of dependency
Because of the way we have historically funded partners, we have a significant number of partners who are highly dependent on MAVA funding. As of our last analysis 47% of our direct partners rely on MAVA for at least 30% of their total funding. Although high dependence does not always signify a problem, in all cases we are assessing the situation and where needed aiming to reduce levels of dependence. In general, our aim is to have no more than 30% of dependence by 2022.
This means we will be proactively engaging with a number of partners to agree on what the transition plan should look like. We want to ensure that MAVA’s sunsetting does not create issues of survival for our partners.
Partners who still don’t believe
Despite communicating as clearly as we know how, there is still a minority who continue to believe that funding from the Hoffmann family will continue for them after 2022. The family has confirmed that this is not the case and that all partners should prepare for the scenario in which funding from MAVA and the Hoffmann family will cease.
We urge all our partners to take this seriously and plan accordingly to avoid abrupt surprises in 2022.
Despite the challenges involved in managing our final chapter, the MAVA team remains enthusiastic about and inspired by what can be achieved by 2022 by working hand in hand with partners. There are still several years left to make a difference and our intention is not to fade away but to go out with fireworks.