During the “On Think Tanks” webinar, Sarah Lucas, program officer at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Peter Taylor, former strategic development director at IDRC, discussed the lessons learned from this 10-year program.
Managed by IDRC, the TTI launched in 2008 in partnership with five donors, including The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The initiative supported think tanks to build their capacity in three areas: research quality, communications and participation in policy development, and organizational effectiveness.
Webinar participants explored the position of these organizations in relation to their country’s decision-makers, how to share research evidence and data, the importance of transparency in providing credible data, and the role that think tanks play in bringing together all of the stakeholders who can contribute to policy development.
Based on lessons learned over the course of the initiative, the TTI concluded that the best way to strengthen think tank capacity is through a basic support mechanism for these organizations. It is important to fund the administrative costs of think tanks associated with ad hoc projects and contracts. Donors should factor in the costs of these projects when they support think tanks, and it is important that think tanks carefully estimate the administrative expenses involved in carrying out these projects. Flexible training programs, sharing experiences between think tanks, and organizational self-reflection have also proven to be powerful capacity-building tools.