Global Development Institute Blog

Nicola Banks and Chibwe Henry

Last month we were delighted to hold an intimate celebration marking the start of One World Together. We were joined by our magnificent Youth Board, our four inspiring partner organisations and a fantastic and welcoming audience at the University of Manchester.

This was not only an opportunity to introduce a movement that has been in the making for more than two years. It was a chance to really showcase what we are seeking to do, bringing in our four partners to highlight what this new collaboration means to them. Our Youth Board also demonstrated the way we envision One World Together becoming an engaged and dynamic youth-powered movement for change.

First up, a very quick recap of what One World Together is (though you can find a fuller history of why this radical new system of funding for global development is necessary here).

One World Together believes that together we can change the nature of support for global development by shifting power and money to the organisations closest to communities. We support community organisations in the UK and globally by providing long-term funding that they can spend how they want. We build strong organisations that can invest in their future development and respond to challenges as they arise.

It sounds straightforward, right? That’s because it is.

The problem is that this isn’t how current systems work. Too much of the charity sector operates through funding systems that don’t trust communities to meet their own challenges. Money reaches organisations on a short-term basis and funds projects tied to the interests and priorities of donors rather than the communities they help.

Our partners gave us some insight into the ways in which our flexible funding has already helped them in critical ways. For Community Savers in North-West England, our initial payment enabled three community groups to give emergency grants to families struggling with the cost of living crisis. Raising Futures Kenya was able to provide school lunches in three of its training centres suffering from a long-term drought and Muungano wa Wanavijiji’s youth federation funded a movement for peace in the run-up to national elections. These are all activities that traditional calls and timelines for funding rarely support.

So how will we continue this? That’s where you come in. One World Together will build a broad-based movement rooted in trust, solidarity and new forms of engagement. We’ll build that movement through a new form of affordable support that goes much deeper than a financial transaction.

Supporters can sign up to our Solidarity Fund from as little as £1.25 a month. We’ll pool these funds and redistribute them to our partners on a long-term and unrestricted basis. Every penny (minus the transaction fee) will reach our partners. Our partner Lwanga Bwalya from Play it Forward Zambia illustrated clearly just how powerful your pound can be, telling the audience:

“What does a pound mean to you? I can tell you what it means to me. £1 can give a young person meals for a week…But what you are actually giving them is time. Because for some children their dream is just not to go to bed hungry. And it means if you can feed them for a week they can look up, have time to play, time to actually think through their future…Time is hope, and if you give that enough to a community they themselves can then step up and surprise us with their success”.

While the One World Together model keeps our running costs low and makes sure that Solidarity Fund donations goes straight to our partners to support impact like this, we still have some additional costs to cover. So we’ve designed a membership-based model that asks supporters to pay a small annual membership fee. This will enable us to focus on improving impact rather than get caught up on a constant (and expensive) treadmill of fundraising. Our principles of radical transparency means that you’ll find out exactly how both the Solidarity Fund and membership money are spent.

As members you will be welcomed into One World Together’s online community where you can connect with our partners, get involved in discussions and events, and develop a new understanding of why local actors are such critical lifelines to their communities and of how our long-term support can strengthen the great work they do.

Alongside developing our website (which should be fully available online at the end of July) we’ll be building this community space over the summer, so please make sure that you sign up to our mailing list so that you can get updates like this.

Our launch in Manchester was a huge milestone to celebrate for us and the warm and enthusiastic feedback we received from attendees meant the world. But we also recognise that this is just the start of One World Together’s long-term journey and we can’t do it without you.

Can our simple, yet transformative idea change the world? Not without the people that come together and back it, the ones that hope for a better future and want to play a part in that. So please do show your support by signing up to our Solidarity Fund and Global Citizen membership today!