Accelerator Fund – 1 year: What have we learned and what is coming in 2014?

Major advances in 2013

1)   Execution of 44% of resources planned through 6 platforms supported in 2013;

2)    Community of Practice formation (22 organizations), which is supporting us to better understand the challenges of implementing this Fund; so far, we have had only a webinar with its members;

3)    Creation and maintenance of a website, in which we’re trying to systematize part of our learnings and researches on the ecosystem of technology for social change. We recommend in particular the following sections, and of course our Blog:

  1. Civic Apps
  2. Organizations
  3. Initiatives
  4. Resources

4)    Intensive support and follow-up to each project supported by the Fund through planning workshops, virtual meetings and support in developing their plans (alliances, sustainability, replicability, etc.).

5) We had conversations and exchanges with numerous organizations and experts in civic technologies and other funds, in addition to have participated in several specialized events.

Key learnings from 2013

1)    Flexibility in the follow-up of the projects, as the context may require changes in our contract; we have negotiated changes in all contracts with the grantees and we are open to monitor the best way to generate impact through the project, even if it means making changes on them;

2)   The need to reduce the transaction costs in the selection process of projects; we have changed the call for applications for 2014 and instead of requesting full proposals (12 pages), we will first ask concept notes (2-3 pages), follow the process with interviews and then request full proposals for the ones with biggest potential; this change is thanks to a huge investment of time we had in the first call for proposals; we will maintain the invitation process whenever we identify (including through consultants) projects and organizations with high potential;

3)  We also realized that Fund´s deliverables (in particular the selection and follow-up of projects and blogging) demand more time than Fund´s executive team has available (1.75 full time equivalent person) and we decided that in 2014 we will expand our activities through hiring consultants for specific demands;

4)     We also realized that grantee institutional capacity is essential to carry out the Theory of Change, in particular the formation of alliances and collaboration with other actors, because this is really time consuming and a strategic demand.

Main challenges for 2014:

1)      Make better use of the Community of Practice to support us on the greatest challenges of the Fund;

2)   Develop high quality blog posts focused on advances, challenges and learnings of projects;

3)      Select new projects following strictly Fund´s Theory of Change (call for applications 2014).

4)      Support and follow-up each grantee in the execution of their projects and plans, as well as giving special attention to mapping and functioning of their ecosystem for social change and detailing each step of their theories of change: alliances, apps, empowerment, engagement and impact.

5)      Deepen the reflection (including its limitations) on assessment of the activities, results and impact of the projects supported by the Fund.

Next posts

Today we end a series of four posts about the Fund first year of activities as detailed below:

1) What is the Fund and its Theory of Change?
2) What are its projects and their objectives?
3) How does the Theory of Change apply to the projects?
4) What have we learned and what is coming in 2014?

Next week we will start a new series with one post about each project supported, being the next one the Platform for Managing Indicators (IOTA) that concluded recently its first semester of activities. In each of these posts, we will explore details of the projects: theory of change, indicators, advances, learnings and challenges facing the development of their applications and formation and implementation of their alliances, among others.

We are convinced that the Accelerator Fund is only a first step we are submitting  to test some hypothesis and a theory of change that can be effective in the process of designing and accelerating high-scale social change using web and mobile technology and promoting citizen behavior change.

We are learning every day, we hope to share and keep learning from fund´s grantees, and the larger community interested in the use of technology with civic purposes.

Comments, critics and suggestions are very welcome!

Márcio Vasconcelos – Coordinador General Fondo Acelerador

Lucia Abelenda – Coordinadora Ejecutiva Fondo Acelerador