Supporting our partners

We are proud to be working with our partners across our many programmes. We strive to be purposeful and strategic in our grant-making. We provide opportunities for our partners to access support, including through: capacity building; child safeguarding; monitoring and evaluation; and communications. Read on for
more information.

Capacity building

Oak’s capacity building and organisational development enables grantees to have access to and funding for high quality assistance. This helps them to develop leadership and management skills and builds high-performing organisations and effective networks.

The cost of capacity building for grantees is covered either through Oak grants or, indirectly, via intermediary organisations and capacity building providers. In 2019, grantee priorities determined how capacity building providers were chosen. These were:

  • resource mobilisation, via Resource Alliance;
  • leadership coaching, via Kairos, Coaches4Causes, and the peer consultation group;
  • support through short-term volunteers, via Catchafire; and
  • safeguarding, via multiple providers, depending on the region.

In 2019 the capacity building unit underwent an internal review. It showed that good progress has been made in building staff skills within Oak to support capacity building work. In addition we have built up a good repository of materials and guidance which help programme officers’ work in this area. Externally, our biggest challenge remains the lack of capacity-building infrastructure in some of the contexts our grantees work in.

In 2020 we will determine future areas of focus through evaluations and an internal mapping of Oak’s capacity building investment.

Child safeguarding

Safeguarding children is everybody’s business and we take our responsibility seriously.

Oak envisages a world where children are protected from all forms of abuse and exploitation and where their rights and safety are respected. We are determined to put children first in all we do, which is why we hold Oak and our employees accountable to high standards of child protection.

Oak envisages a world where children are protected from all forms of abuse and exploitation and where their rights and safety are respected.

Strongly supported by its Trustees, Oak Foundation put in place its first Child Safeguarding Policy in 2013 and adopted a revised version in 2018. Our policy is a living document. In 2019 we worked to implement it by training our staff, reviewing our specific safeguarding risks and continuing to adapt and improve the current policy, with the aim of presenting an updated version to our Trustees in 2020.

We ask our grantees to adhere to the same safeguarding standards that we set for ourselves. This is because we believe that our responsibility to keep children safe extends beyond the foundation, through to our partnerships with our grantees, and beyond. In 2019 we partnered with a number of specialised service providers around the world to provide our grantees with context-specific, relevant and useful safeguarding support.

Our work on child safeguarding also extends to collaboration with other foundations and trusts. In 2019, together with Comic Relief and with the support of Elevate Children Funders Group, we co-hosted convenings and webinars, set up an online resource forum and facilitated regular information sharing on safeguarding.

If you are a partner of Oak Foundation, please speak to your programme officer to find out more about the support you can receive.

Monitoring & evaluation

At Oak Foundation we strive to combat injustice in society. But we know that social change is not a linear process that can be controlled, and we cannot assume our grant-making will always contribute to the results we would like to see.

We believe it is important to learn from success and failure, and to use what we learn to adapt our grant-making and make it more impactful. We embrace the “do no harm” principle in our grant-making, which means we need to understand if our efforts are generating any negative unplanned effects for the people we want to serve.

We embrace the “do no harm” principle in our grant-making.

To help us navigate these challenges, in 2019 we hired Marta Arranz as senior advisor of monitoring, evaluation and learning. Her role is to support programmes to make their grant-making strategies more explicit and sharper, to better use evidence to inform our decisions and to learn more systematically from our experience and that of our partners in order to be able to do grant-making better.
To this end, we are asking questions such as, “What, concretely speaking, is the impact of our grant-making? Where are we making progress and where are we not, and why? Are we looking at this issue in the right way? What would it take to make a bigger difference with the resources we have?”

We hope that this investment will improve how we fund and help us be better partners to our grantees and other funders with whom we share the same goals.


Communications plays a fundamental role at Oak Foundation. We believe that through good communications we contribute to a better, safer, cleaner, fairer world. Good communication helps build and maintain relationships internally among staff and externally with our partners. In addition, it helps ensure transparency around our grant-making and elevates the voices of those who are often the least heard.

We seek to share stories about the great work of our partners being carried out across the world, on subjects that touch all of Oak’s programmes. They strive for a better world, for justice, greater equality and fairness. It is our honour to be able to help raise the voices of the people that benefit from our partners’ great work.

The work of our partners includes: ending sexual violence against children; finding greener energy solutions; bringing perpetrators of child sexual abuse to account for their wrongdoing; supporting changes in law and policy around housing that favour people of lesser means; supporting strong women’s movements; helping children learn and many more.

We value communications as a vehicle for social change and provide funding for a variety of communication initiatives within our programmes. We also support capacity building efforts to expand global and local efforts to improve communications. If you are an Oak partner and would like to hear more about that, please contact your programme officer.

We value communications as a vehicle for social change and provide funding for a variety of communication initiatives within our programmes.

Oak’s main communications channels are its website and its annual report, as well as through social media channels Twitter and Instagram. Please follow us! In addition, we love to hear success stories from our partners, so if you you are an Oak partner, please reach out to the Comms team at and we will be happy to share your stories on our website or through social media.