Building capabilities among donors in evidence-informed grant making

CEI’s team in Singapore has been supporting Singapore-based donor, Octava Foundation, to build capabilities in evidence-informed grant making and grant management.

Though a relative newcomer to the Southeast Asian foundation landscape (having been established in 2016), Octava has developed a holistic portfolio that is distinctive within Singapore. The Foundation supports children and youth from economically disadvantaged families to realise and achieve their aspirations, with the ultimate aim of supporting young people to have sustainable livelihoods as adults. Its portfolio includes a range of programs aiming to ‘strengthen the pillars of home, school, and society’: e.g. financial support for education and industry certification, mentorship, work experiences, out-of-classroom experiential learning, soft skills development programmes, and positive parenting approaches.

Octava Foundation sought support from CEI in shifting its grant making towards a more evidence-informed approach that would enable more robust sourcing and diligence of potential grantees and outcomes-focused monitoring and evaluation.

CEI’s Director Cheryl Seah has led CEI’s partnership with Octava Foundation over the last year. Key aspects of her support have included participation in ongoing guidance on program evaluation, participation in board meetings, assessment of evaluation frameworks, assessment of grantee logic models, site visits to grantees, and capacity building with program staff.

The result is improved capabilities in the foundation team in accessing and applying appropriate frameworks, leveraging evidence in assessing opportunities, and understanding how a program's maturity and context affect expected outcomes and evidence.