Funding Systems Change in Asia: What Can Donors & Doers Learn from Each Other?

11th June 2020 10:00am Singapore Time

Session Highlights:

  • This panel explored how philanthropists and implementing organisations can address root causes of complex, multi-faceted challenges such as poverty and inequality which are often intractable and embedded in networks of cause and effect.
  • Panelists discussed the risk aversion amongst donors when it comes to driving systems change, in part due to the complexity and scale of the challenges as well as the difficulties in measuring and attributing impact. To overcome this, donors and doers must embrace risk in the same way a for profit venture would, be open to learning, partnership and being accountable to key stakeholders.
  • As it relates to the current pandemic, panelists warned of the risk of over-allocating resources to COVID at the potential expense of addressing poverty and climate change. Investing now in systems change was seen as an imperative to protect against future, likely larger threats.

Important Disclaimer

Session Description

The challenges that need to be solved across the global south to reduce inequality and poverty are complex and multi-faceted. For transformative change to take place, solutions need to adopt a systems change approach and address the issues that lie at the root of the problem. However, it is challenging for organisations seeking to implement a systems change approach to attract the type of funding that is required to implement long-term solutions. In this session, we will explore what is systems change, examples of success and why it is important to adopt this mindset in seeking to bring lasting and effective impact. We will also examine barriers to funding systems change and how grantmakers and social organisations can work closely together to catalyse system change solutions to scale impact.

Key Takeaways

  • What is system change and how can we adopt a system change approach to solve social problems? What are some examples of success
  • Challenges and opportunities in funding system change in Asia
  • How can grantmakers collaborate with social organisations more effectively to catalyse system change solutions


Tim Hanstad

Moderator: Tim Hanstad

CEO Chandler Foundation

Neera Nundy

Neera Nundy

Partner and CoFounder Dasra

Iqbal Dhaliwal

Iqbal Dhaliwal

Global Executive Director J-PAL

James Chen

James Chen

Chairman The Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation

Rukmini Banerji

Rukmini Banerji

CEO Pratham Education Foundation

Access session resources

  • Richard F. Chandler established the Chandler Foundation in 2013. The Founder and Chairman of the Clermont Group, an international business group, Richard created the Chandler Foundation after nearly two decades of experience in philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. The Chandler Foundation is the culmination of Richard’s philanthropic journey and is a manifestation of his calling as an investor in the philanthropic marketplace. Click here to find out more about The Chandler Foundation Story.
  • This Embracing Complexity: Towards a Shared Understanding of Funding Systems Change Report is a collaborative effort of funders, intermediaries, and systems change leaders who aim to send a signal to the social sector funding community – including philanthropists, foundations, impact investors, corporate donors, government agencies, and multilateral organizations – that current practices need to evolve to better support systems change leaders.

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