Global Learning Partner Request for Letters of Interest

Global Learning Partner Request for Letters of Interest

Background and Overview 

For 60 years, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation has worked with partners worldwide to create enduring solutions for just societies and a healthy, resilient natural world. The Packard Foundation’s new strategic framework recognizes that a strong civil society is central to achieving the Foundation’s goals.   The David and Lucile Packard Foundation seeks a partner to help the Civil Society and Leadership (CSL) initiative learn from the implementation of its new strategy focused on investing in the strength of civil society1 in the geographies where the Foundation works around the world. Specifically, CSL will implement its full strategy in three priority geographies: Indonesia, Chile, and one country/region TBD, complemented by grants to global civil society organizations. The global learning partner would help us (1) align all learning efforts with the priorities set out in our initiative learning plan and (2) synthesize learning across geographies – ultimately to inform CSL decisions about future strategy implementation.  

Scope of Work 

CSL is seeking the support of an external consultant to partner with us to harvest lessons related to our strategic learning priorities across geographies. CSL has recently finalized a learning plan that lays out our learning questions, intended outcomes, and timeline of activities for our 10-year initiative. This plan would guide the work of the global learning partner, acknowledging that it is a living document that may evolve as we learn. 

Over the next seven months, researchers in Indonesia and Chile will complete baseline assessments on the state of civil society, as well as how best CSL can contribute to the strength of civil society. We aim for the global learning partner to be in place by June 2024, allowing us to build on the work done in-country. We are imaging the following project schedule: 

Onboarding to Project (Q3 2024) 

The CSL team will share materials for document review, and we will look to the learning partner to create an inception plan for our work together over the following 18 months. This inception plan will include prioritized learning questions that map to strategic and operational decisions; overall project plans, finalized methodologies (including sampling approaches), and preliminary instruments (acknowledging that these may change depending on data from the country-level assessments and evaluation). We will also use this period to introduce the global learning partner to those doing research in-country.  

Cross-geography Synthesis (Q4 2024-Q1 2025) 

Mainly analysis of secondary data, with minimal primary data collection 

Once these assessments are complete, there will be an opportunity to learn across the two geographies. In the assessments, we are seeking to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of civil society, opportunities to intervene and support; and the enabling conditions and constraints affecting the work of our partners and others in the ecosystem. While this information is highly contextual, we also expect that there will be insights and lessons that span geographies – as well as illuminating differences. We aim for the assessment to identify these overarching takeaways and important contrasts to complement the geography-specific learning and wrap up our research streams in a coherent narrative that helps us make informed decisions about our approaches and allocation of our resources.  

We expect this stage may involve review, synthesis, and analysis of two assessment reports, as well as other secondary materials related to work on global civic space; 1-2 focus groups with advisors and stakeholders from both priority geographies and global civic space organizations; and a sensemaking sessions with the CSL team, team members from other Foundation initiatives, and possibly some external partners.   

Cross-Geography Learning (Q3 2025-Q1 2026) 

Combination of secondary data analysis and primary data collection 

In preparation for reporting on the first two years of our initiative, we would look to the global learning partner to lead a process of learning across geographies and at the global level, informing Packard Foundation decision-making, as well as contributing to the broader fields of philanthropy and civil society. Though it will be early in our implementation period, we will seek to gain early insights into preliminary outcomes; how, if at all, our investments across strategic pathways are reinforcing each other; and how our funding and voice have contributed to stronger civil society organizations, infrastructure, and enabling conditions.  

While we would seek to develop together the research design, with input from our in-country evaluation partners, we imagine the process would be informed by:  

  • Review of baseline assessments, incorporating prior synthesis and the assessment from the third geography 
  • Collaboration with in-country evaluators on additional country-level data collection (which might be from interviews, focus groups) 
  • Primary data collection from global civil society grantees (currently there are twelve organizations total), as well as any other global stakeholders deemed relevant – methods TBD 
  • 1-2 focus groups with advisors and stakeholders from priority geographies and globally 
  • Analysis of 2-5 evaluation reports from intermediaries administering CSL-funded programs 
  • Sensemaking session with the CSL team and Foundation staff from other initiatives 

Deliverables, Audiences, and Activities 

We seek the following deliverables from this engagement: 

  • Cross-geography synthesis report, including recommendations (6-9 pages) 
  • Cross-geography learning report, including recommendations (15-20 pages) 

The primary audiences for these deliverables are internal; we are primarily learning to inform our own practice, allowing us to pivot and enhance our approaches as needed. We also plan to share our learning with Foundation leadership (VP, President) and Board. We are also committed to sharing learning externally. While we do not expect that the deliverables be public facing, we plan to communicate about what we learn in blogs or other publications. We are interested in collaborating with the evaluator on these external communications where appropriate, but do not expect it, and there is no need to build it into a proposed scope.  

And we anticipate the following activities: 

  • Regular meetings with the CSL MEL team (at least quarterly), who will take the lead on learning priorities and intends to be deeply involved in scoping and sensemaking 
  • Collaboration with in-country evaluators, as the scope requires 
  • Occasional, ongoing advising as questions and decisions arise relevant to the CSL learning agenda 
  • Facilitation of focus groups and sensemaking sessions described above 

Timeline and Budget 

We expect this project will run from Q3 2024 through Q1 2026 (~21 months), with bursts of activity and some months with minimal or no project work. We hope to work with a consultant or team who is willing to “go dark” when there is not active project work. This scope is not well-suited to a retainer model, though it may be beneficial for the team to have a bank of floating hours to use in between projects, as needs arise. When developing the budget, please include compensation for external interview and focus group participants. 

If all parties are interested, there may be an opportunity to extend the engagement into subsequent years. We expect to be able to allocate ~$125,000 total to this project.  

Role of Packard Foundation  

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation will partner with the global learning partner by: 

  • Providing the researcher/team with a designated point person who will oversee contract execution and management 
  • Reviewing all deliverables and coordinating review by other Packard team members 
  • Contributing to finalizing learning questions and research design 
  • Supporting and overseeing the project throughout the full timeline 
  • Engaging in regular communication with the researcher

Consultant Qualifications 

  • Significant lived or professional experience in Global Majority countries, with a background in research and evaluation at the global/cross-country level.  
  • Demonstrated understanding of civic space, civil society infrastructure and civil society context globally, and ideally, some experience in Indonesia and/or Chile.  
  • Commitment to equitable approaches to information gathering, including awareness and attentiveness to cultural and contextual differences. 
  • A creative approach to data synthesis and analysis, as well as an ability to bring in relevant knowledge beyond the data that CSL has collected in country.  
  • Experience deeply collaborating with Foundation teams on evaluation and learning.

Guidelines for Letter of Interest (LOI) 

Please submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) by May 10, 2024 that includes: 

  • Approach and challenges (2 pages): Describe the proposed process for creating the inception plan for this work, as well as any challenges or concerns you may have about this project and suggestions for mitigation. 
  • Your qualifications: Describe 2‐3 relevant previous projects and provide bios and/or CVs of key personnel. 

Please note that we will invite selected finalists to submit a proposal that will include a more detailed research methodology and plan, a timeline, and a budget. It is not necessary to include any of these items in your expression of interest. 

Process Timeline

Circulation March 25 – May 10, 2024 
LOI question and answer session Thursday, April 18 @ 6AM PT
Use this Zoom link to join; questions and answers will be updated here following the session
Deadline to submit letter of interest May 10, 2024 
Interviews May 20-29, 2024 
Invitation of short proposal and work sample from 1-2 finalists June 5, 2024 
Proposal materials due July 5, 2024 
Selection & Notification July 12, 2024 
Project execution (pending contract approval) Expected to run from September 2024 – March 2026 

A list of relevant questions and answers can be found here.

Please email the LOI and qualifications to CSL Research Analyst, Aida Zozaya, [email protected] with a CC to [email protected].


Relevant Background Documents 

CSL will share with those selected to submit proposals a set of background documents including: 

  • An overview of the Civil Society and Leadership Initiative strategy  
  • CSL’s full learning plan (theory of change and learning questions available to inform LOI development upon request) 
  • Inception reports for Indonesia evaluation and baseline assessment (with rolling access to documents related to other geographies as they become available) 

1 We use the following definition of civil society, developed by the Funders Initiative on Civil Society (FICS, 2022): “the array of non-governmental organizations, entities, and movements that have a presence in public life and who express interests and values based on human rights, ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious, or philanthropic considerations.”