MFAN’s advocacy efforts over the past eight years have helped mainstream reform principles in the foreign assistance policy debate. This was the major finding from a recently completed evaluation of MFAN commissioned by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The assessment, conducted by BLE Solutions, examined MFAN’s results, adaptability, effectiveness as a coalition, and member engagement from its inception in mid-2008 to mid-2016.
The study evaluates these four areas in the context of four major policy outcomes that MFAN has dedicated time and resources to over several phases of the coalition. Those policy goals are:
- The Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD-6), which was the first of its kind signed by President Obama in 2010;
- The Global Partnerships Act, an ambitious effort undertaken by then-Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard Berman (D-NY), to rewrite the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961;
- The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, which was signed into law in July 2015 institutionalizing transparency and evaluation measures; and
- USAID’s Local Solutions initiative, which was launched as part of the USAID Forward reform agenda in 2010 and aims to channel more funds directly to local organizations.
Through extensive surveys and interviews, BLE reached three conclusions. First, the network model of MFAN helped members achieve more collectively than they would have individually. Second, MFAN’s focus on effectiveness brought the often siloed aid community together around reform principles. Finally, MFAN’s engagement with Congress has fostered bipartisan support for foreign assistance reform, which has resulted in the inclusion of reform-friendly language in many sector-specific foreign assistance-related bills.
The study also acknowledges some missed opportunities, particularly around Congressional directives and presidential initiatives that continue to hamstring efforts towards greater the flexibility and responsiveness of U.S. assistance.
This evaluation has been an insightful learning exercise for MFAN and will hopefully be a valuable resource for other coalitions as well. We thank the Hewlett Foundation for their years of support for MFAN and the aid effectiveness agenda. The full evaluation is available on the MFAN website.