Strategy 2020-2025: Increasing Impact through Collective Action
The CaLP network has played a critical role in growing and strengthening the use of cash and voucher assistance (CVA) across the humanitarian system, stewarding CVA from a few scattered pilot projects when CaLP came into being in 2005 to CVA making up almost 20% of global humanitarian response by 2019. The growing use of and familiarity with CVA means that needs and challenges have changed over time and new priorities must be addressed.
The key objectives of the CaLP network and its members are shifting from increasing the use of cash, to improving the quality of CVA, to implications of the increased use of cash for the ways we work, individually and collectively, and with actors outside the humanitarian system. In a context of rising humanitarian needs and widening resource gaps, the challenges we face are too complex for any one organisation to tackle alone. The role of the network in sharing learning and catalysing collective action has never been more critical. To support this, we have developed a new strategy based on inputs from across the network, to ensure CaLP supports, connects and amplifies the work of its members to increase our collective impact on meeting humanitarian need.
The strategy development involved an extensive consultation process, supported by two independent consultants, with members and other stakeholders around the world. Over a seven-month period more than 450 people shared their views through workshops, surveys and interviews. Emerging dilemmas were explored as the process progressed and issues were considered by a Strategy Working Group drawn from the CaLP Board, Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and staff team. Once drafted, a series of open webinars sought further feedback and, along with further inputs from the Board and TAG, final modifications were made.
This strategy marks a watershed for CaLP, moving us from a staff team serving and working with members, to a fully networked model.
The strategy outlines five outcome areas:
- Foster collaboration for more effective and sustainable humanitarian CVA that better meets the needs of people living in contexts of crisis
- Become an effective global network for the CVA system, inspired by improving outcomes for people living in contexts of crisis
- Strengthen evidence-based policy and action in order to transform humanitarian CVA
- Provide thought-leadership on emerging issues likely to affect humanitarian CVA, mindful of the links to broader financial assistance
- Continue to expand the skills and knowledge required to deliver quality, sustainable humanitarian CVA, at scale
The last three outcomes areas are familiar and build on areas of work that CaLP is already known for. We will capitalise on the great work done to date and push standards higher over the coming years. The direction of these three pillars of work – evidenced based policy, thought leadership and skills and knowledge – will evolve over time according to need.
The biggest shift is not in what we do, but how we do it …
- One very clear point of agreement during the strategy consultation process was the need to clearly and practically centre on the priorities of people in crisis. This is an objective shared by all our members, but often the aggregate of decisions that make sense for individual organisations do not lead to the best outcomes for people in crisis. We will focus on understanding how to shape our collective work to achieve the best results even where this takes us in a different direction from the interests of individual members. Most people also wanted this approach to be built on closer and more integrated collaboration, and wanted to be more actively engaged in the CaLP network to make this happen. All this is reflected in the strategy.
- Unlike previous strategies which focused heavily on the work of the CaLP staff team, this new strategy builds on the strength of the CaLP network as a whole. The team will remain critical, driving forward work in many areas, and underpinning and supporting an ever stronger network. The team will place increasing focus on connecting and facilitating the work of the network, catalysing and supporting collective action and unlocking and sharing learning.
This strategy is anchored in principles which provide a foundation for a stronger network, helping it work together in an open, transparent and accountable way. At this stage, the principles are draft and need to be refined through further consultation with members.
As humanitarian crises get ever more complex it is clear that no one organisation can effectively tackle these challenges alone – the future is networked. We know that the humanitarian ecosystem needs to be diverse, with diverse roles and skills. CaLP offers the space to have constructive dialogue across the network and helps players be and appear to be more collaborative, and to influence others.
Different types of organisations will benefit from membership of the network in different ways. Some organisations bring community connectedness, some bring speed, some scale, others offer different technical specialisations – it takes a range of different approaches, and CaLP can facilitate joint planning, peer learning and collaboration between different types of members. Being part of the CaLP network gives you an opportunity to shape the collective future of the humanitarian ecosystem, and ensure that our collective impact for the people we serve is maximised.
One very clear point of agreement during the strategy consultation process was the need to clearly and practically centre on the priorities of people in crisis.
Practically, this means we will focus on understanding and collectively shaping action across the network to ensure the best result for people in crisis. It means we will take an evidence based approach, supporting efforts to more effectively gather and understand the priorities, needs, issues and concerns of crisis-affected people, to drive change.
It may sound obvious to focus on achieving the best results for people in crisis, and this is an objective shared by all our members. But the aggregate of decisions that make sense for individual organisations often does not lead to the best outcomes for people in crisis. We will focus on understanding how to shape our collective work to achieve the best results even where this sometimes takes us in a different direction from the interests of individual members. This means, for example, we will undertake more collective assessments, share findings openly and invest in finding common solutions to common problems. This is all possible and, through our continuous focus on achieving the best results for people in crisis, we can achieve more.
Over time, you can expect to see the CaLP network planning more collectively and creating more opportunities for members of the network to lead and engage in key areas of work. For example, we will work together to define new collective targets for the network to advance the use of CVA. We envisage more communities of practise and working groups which, based upon collectively identified needs and supported through improvements in information management systems, will enable more active and inclusive engagement.
In all this, the CaLP staff team will continue to play a key role alongside members, horizon scanning and highlighting emerging issues, leading many areas of work and playing an increasingly facilitative role over time.
The new strategy will be implemented gradually. This gradual approach will allow us, as a network, to adjust and evolve new ways of working that will achieve more. We’ll aim to learn from what doesn’t work as well what does.
Working as a network doesn’t mean that all members are doing the same thing or that they will agree all the time. The strategy aims for alignment between members – a network of members that are facing in the same direction, in pursuit of a shared vision.
To move forward together, we need to focus on complementarity and convergence rather than consensus. Working in alignment is helped by having decision-making that is based on principles rather than roles, with members considering what best serves the network’s vision and purpose. CaLP’s work will be evidence-based and unbiased, ensuring a fair balance between differing views and voices. This approach allows more space for healthy challenge and disagreement to be voiced, understood and respected – but then put to one side in the interests of the vision and the collective good.
The direction of the CaLP network will be determined by evidence and by dialogue between members, where no single member’s views are prioritised and where all members have an equal voice. Being equitable denotes fairness and an appreciation of the value that different people, stakeholder groups or sectors bring in terms of their knowledge, skills and reputation rather than their financial or political power.
Equity in a network if often expressed through the operation of a ‘one member one vote’ system and, over time, we will need to review our governance arrangements to ensure that it meets the changing needs of the network. But our interpretation of equity needs to go further, so we strive to achieve equity in other ways as well, for example, ensuring inclusive processes.
We will undertake a review of the functions and roles of the staff team to determine what adjustments may be needed to optimise the delivery of the strategy. Where needed, adjustments will be made over time and we’ll invest in skills development where there are gaps.
The current governance arrangements have served CaLP well to date. Looking ahead, in keeping with a networked approach, we need to think more about governance in terms of distributed leadership – how, where and by who are decisions made. This is a much broader concept than one framed only in terms of how the Board, TAG and staff team function. It will require some adjustments, with any changes to governance guided by what will help the network work best and with changes made steadily overtime.