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Social Investment across 5 Horizons - lessons learnt from Covid-19 in South Africa


Written by GrowZA Founder - Craig Kensley 22 November 2021


As the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, I found myself in a position coordinating the emergency response of a group of progressive corporate donors and foundations to the blunt force trauma inflicted on communities. Food relief, sanitation and GBV programmes rolled out at a pace never before required and stress-tested all the systems at civil society's disposal.


As the response rolled out and we consistently engaged for next wave support it became increasingly evident that the appetite for giving, while generous and well-intended, was largely generic. It seemed as though the elephant in the room - WHAT NEXT - was not a question donors had the budgetary or strategic bandwidth to engage.


Scaffolding for a sustainable long term philanthropic response to the pandemic was required. My team and I set out to articulate this and through a process of design led thinking developed the 5 Horizons framework.


The metaphor of horizons was adopted to reflect the fact that each stakeholder brought a particular perspective and view of what was required to the table. Especially in development discourse, multiple (often seemingly ambigious) perspectives share the same space wrestling for attention / resources. The 5 Horizons offers the opportunity for contextual engagement and co-creation of response.


The 5 Horizons is a mapping canvas stakeholders can engage to map, plan and track social investment responses to pandemic fuelled community challenges.


We built consequential frames for each horizon, allowing for work to be articulated in context without getting lost in the noise of "worthiness of cause" or vanity metrics relating to dosage impact


The 5 Horizons are:


Horizon 1 – RESOLVE – Addressing the immediate challenges that COVID-19 represents for communities and civil society organisations


Horizon 2 – RESILIENCE – Addressing near term resource challenges of civil society organisations


Horizon 3 – RETURN – Co-creating development pathways to return civil society back to scale quickly, as the virus evolves and knock-on effects become clearer


Horizon 4 – REIMAGINE – Articulating what the discontinuous shift looks like, and implications for how the civil society ecosystem should reinvent


Horizon 5 – REFORM – Advocacy and activism influencing the regulatory and competitive environment of Philanthropy


The horizons were operationalised relative to a succinct theory of change and aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, National Development plan and the African Charter on Human Rights.


Ultimately, the horizons introduce a refreshing focus to guide development and strategy conversations in the time of Covid.


Book a Social Investment Strategy session with us if you are keen to learn more about the utility of the framework and examples of implementation at scale.


This is how we #GrowZA


#covidrecovery #thenextnormal #philanthropy #responsiblegiving #SDG2030 #communitydevelopment #socialprogress