Using the Donor Tracker: a Guide for Advocates

Imagine you work for an advocacy organization seeking to mobilize more funding from donor governments for your priority issue – let’s say global health. You’re in the process of developing a three-year strategy that will lay out your engagement approach, including entry points and messaging. Your in-house staff resources for advocacy work are limited, so you want to focus your attention on the countries where you think your ability to shape funding decisions has the best chances of success. Where do you start?

The challenge that many development professionals like you face is pooling together many different pieces of analysis in a short period of time, from data on global-development spending to knowledge of a country’s political system and budget process. That’s where the Donor Tracker comes in. This ‘Insight’ shows how you can use the Donor Tracker to inform your advocacy work and plan your engagement with donors.

Here are five steps to get started.  

1. Start with our ‘Sector’ pages to understand the donor landscape in your issue area and pre-select a shortlist of donors to engage with.

You’ll find information on donors’ funding and priorities in five sectors critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including global health. Start with the global health landing pageHere you can get a sense of how much funding goes to this sector overall. You will also get two pieces of information that are critical to prioritizing donors to engage: how governments rank in their total funding to the sector compared to others and how they rank when you look at how much of their total official development assistance (ODA) they spend on global health.

With these rankings, you’ll learn which government donors have the highest capacity to fund programs, and you’ll also know how big of a funding priority global health is to the donor. This is useful because a government that already prioritizes global health funding may be more inclined to put even more money on the table. On the other hand, targeting a donor that currently spends less than others can also make sense, as the potential future funding increase is higher. Rankings like these are essential tools for developing a shortlist of donors to prioritize for engagement.    

2. Use our donor profiles to dig deeper into the spending and policy priorities of your donors of interest.

Now that you’ve come up with a shortlist of potentially interesting donors, you need to look deeper into what these donors are doing in global health. The donor profiles are the perfect way to do that. To get started, our ‘At a glance’ section gives you a high-level view of recent spending and future outlook, as well as priorities and upcoming opportunities for engagement. ‘Key Questions’ on donors’ overall ODA trends and outlook (Question 1), priorities for global development (Question 2), and detailed analysis on spending (Question 3) give all of the above in greater depth.

For instance, you’ll find in France's ‘At a glance’ that it is hosting the Global Fund’s replenishment conference in October 2019. This may open opportunities to push the French government to maintain or further scale up its strong support to fighting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. To use another example, you’ll find that the United Kingdom’s (UK) ODA levels may continue growing steadily because of a political commitment to stick to the 0.7% ODA target, though Brexit casts a cloud of uncertainty over the long-term direction of its development assistance. You’ll also learn that despite this difficult political environment, the UK continues to be a strong supporter of multilateral health partnerships, such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Global Fund.

From here it’s time to check out the part of the profile focused specifically on the UK’s approach to global health. This section of the profile gives far more detail on commitments to health multilaterals, recent commitments, priority partner countries, and the government actors who determine policy and spending decisions in global health. This will help you further finetune your shortlist of donors to prioritize. It will also give you essential background for your engagement approach with prioritized donors and what arguments to use based on the outlined spending and policy priorities in global health.  

3. Use the donor profile sections on actors, decision-making, and budget processes to help you understand with whom to engage and when.

As you know well from your work, it is essential for any effective advocacy strategy to understand the key stakeholders who make and shape decisions in order to develop an actionable plan for engagement. You’ll also find this in our donor profiles (Question 4: Who are the main actors in the UK’s development cooperation?). From this you learn, for instance, that while the Department for International Development (DFID) remains the key actor for ODA spending in the UK, you might also want to consider engaging with other government departments because they manage an increasingly large portion of the UK’s overall ODA.

4. Use the Donor Tracker’s Policy Updates to stay abreast of what’s happening in global development policy and funding in your prioritized donor countries.

The Donor Tracker’s team members in key donor countries help produce Policy Updates each week so readers can stay informed on the latest global-development news, including funding and policy announcements specific to sectors like global health. You can ensure you receive these updates weekly and only for donors or sectors of interest by creating a free account and setting your preferences.    

5. Use our cross-donor ‘Insights’ section to fine-tune your understanding of trends in the sector.

The Donor Tracker’s Insights page focuses on topical and issue-based analyses and assessments. For example, our Insight ‘Are we making progress?', looks at recent funding trends and future outlook in five sectors, including global health. You can learn from this brief that funding to global health is heavily concentrated, with the top four providers – the United States, the Global Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the UK – accounting for two-thirds of all funding. You’ll also find that several donors are placing a stronger focus on health systems strengthening and health security. These insights can help you refine your understanding of trends in the sector.