The Lewis Foundation:
• Recognises the rapidly changing external operating context which is South Africa, Africa and the world today presents a variety of new and exciting challenges and opportunities;
• Seeks to address systemic causes of problems and adopt primarily a systems approach towards long term solutions, for the highest impact;
• Acknowledges that the challenges of the 21st century require transformation in terms of new thinking and new approaches to these substantive, integrated, systemic challenges;
• Implements through partners with which high autonomy and high trust relationships are developed as defined by a set of values, partnership and implementation principles;
• Is committed to identifying projects for future funding through consultation with key thinkers, influencers and experts across sectors;
• Will remain open and flexible to change, optimise its impact and ensure continued relevance;
• Seeks to add value to interventions in addition to financial support;
• Is committed to an on-going monitoring and evaluation process to assess whether the objectives of the Foundation are being met, the level of impact being made and the extent of organisational learning;
• Seeks to take advantage of, and promote new tools and technologies as appropriate to effect greater reach and impact.
Deciding what to fund is achieved through a process of engagement where we consult, listen and learn from great thinkers, influencers and concerned organisations. We are not looking for sexy, short term or quick fix projects and we recognise that whatever we do will not be solved through our efforts alone. We then consider if our investment and ability to leverage partnerships and other investors, can make a meaningful difference. GreenMatter emerged through this process of consultation and engagement and it is how we are going about identifying our next area of work. The process is underpinned by the following framework.
The Lewis Foundation:
• Has a mandate in conservation and animal welfare but no single specific agenda;
• Can catalyse and lead conversations and interventions of its own choosing;
• Will ensure sustainability of initiatives as a prerequisite of funding, ideally through sector uptake and pre-planned autonomy;
• Can support and leverage strategic interventions that are not easily funded or are unattractive to others;
• Can be proactive, flexible and agile in addressing issues;
• Will take the lessons learned from the funding of GreenMatter to improve the Foundation’s strategic approach and impact of future funding.
We do all of our work in collaboration with key partners, be they government departments, the private sector, fellow philanthropy organisations, or civil society partners, who join with us in taking risks, pushing for new solutions, and harnessing the transformative power of the collective. We strive to engage with our partners based on the following principals:
• Shared vision and values;
• Complementarity of purpose and value added;
• Autonomy and independence;
• Transparency and mutual accountability;
• Clarity on roles and responsibilities;
• Commitment to joint learning.
Once we commit to an area of need, together with the key stakeholders and partners we define our major goals and identify a clear path to achieving them. The Lewis Foundation then places parcels of catalytic funding with the implementing partners into carefully chosen strategic areas, for variable lengths of time; leveraging new relationships and partnerships, with a defined exit and sustainability strategy to ensure the initiative becomes self-sustaining.
Using SMART metrics we regularly review our current interventions to ensure that the Lewis Foundation remains open and flexible to change, optimises its impact and remains relevant.