Annual Report

For everyone, 2020 was a year upended, full of enduring challenges, unknowns and for many, great loss.

In this report, we want to share some of the accomplishments from this past year, the lessons we learned along the way, and the people and programs that gave us hope.

The Water Trust Community Development Officer-Ms, Evaline Abu after preparatory meeting for the Radio Talk Shows. Photo from The Water Trust
 Covid-19 awarenes outreach in Zimbabwe. Photo from LID Agency
Qhali providing vitamins to lactating woman in Pampallacta. Photo from DESEA Peru
[Top Left] Community Development Officer preparing for radio talk shows in Uganda. Photo from The Water Trust[Bottom Left] COVID-19 awareness outreach in Shurugwi, Zimbabwe. Photo from LID Agency [Right] Qhali (community health worker) providing vitamins to lactating woman in Pampallacta Photo from DESEA Peru


The COVID-19 pandemic has reached every corner of the globe and the crisis is long from over.

Between April and September 2020, we dispersed an additional $217,000 to 13 grantees for COVID-19 relief efforts. The majority of these funds were used to support local public health efforts and to disseminate prevention messages in hard to reach communities. In most places--especially in Latin American, where cases of COVID-19 were devastatingly high--the pandemic relief funding also supported critical PPE and basic food supplies for vulnerable community members most impacted by government lockdowns.

In addition to this emergency funding, we gave grantees flexibility to reallocate their grant funding to make any and all necessary adjustments to their operations and program activities. We also extended grant timelines which allowed organizations to focus on their work in communities at a critical time, when time and resources were in short supply.

Beyond the health impacts of COVID-19, we are just now beginning to fully grasp the secondary financial and social impacts of the pandemic that resulted from the economic lockdowns and school closures. In East and West Africa, for example, we are hearing about increases in teen pregnancy, high rates of return migration to rural communities and unprecedented rates of unemployment, which are likely to have long-term repercussions in communities. According to UNICEF, though the crisis is universal, children are likely to bear the greatest burden from COVID-19 ‘s lasting impacts, with disproportionate harm to children from the world’s poorest countries.

2020 Grantmaking

Despite significant disruptions and uncertainties caused by the pandemic, most of the organizations we fund were able to continue implementing their programs in some capacity. In 2020, we disbursed $3.3M to 22 grantees and three VVF country offices who are supporting rural communities in under-served regions to achieve self-sufficiency and have opportunities to thrive.


Average Grant Size

*Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)**Self-Help Groups (SHG) and Village Savings & Loan Associations (VSLA) are 2 approaches that increase access, particularly for women, to savings and credit at the community-level

# Partners

Malawi -3Kenya -3Uganda -3 Haiti -2Guatemala -2Senegal -2Zimbabwe -2Ecuador -1Ghana -1 India -1Myanmar -1Peru -1Sub-Saharan Africa -1Tanzania -1West Africa -1
Savings Group Meeting, La Reformita, Ixcan Guatemala   Photo from TrickleUp
Savings group meeting, La Reformita, Ixcan, Guatemala Photo from TrickleUp
Much progress in the Ouro Madiaw garden in Northern Senegal. Photo from Andando.
Progress in the Ouro Madiaw garden in Northern Senegal Photo from Andando Foundation

Two of our newest grantees

Based in Malawi, FOCCAD supports the limited healthcare system by training Community Health Agents as the first point of care. These agents provide door-to-door health services such as home-based HIV/Aids testing and provide emergency transport to nearby health facilities using a local bicycle network. FOCCAD also provides other parallel services such as vocational and agricultural training which contribute to building healthier, more empowered communities.

Based in Zimbabwe, Centre for Gender and Community Development's mission is to uplift and improve the living conditions of poor and marginalized communities with a special focus on women. Their focus is on economic empowerment, citizen participation and climate change mitigation and adaptation. The organization has strong expertise in sustainable agriculture and is committed to addressing gender inequality in their work.



Footsteps Africa

Graded tomatoes and vegetables are sold at Nchalo Trading Centre while others are bought by local families and vendors visiting the borehole garden. Photo from Footsteps Africa
Graded tomatoes and vegetables are sold at Nchalo Trading Centre while others are bought by local families and vendors visiting the borehole gardenPhoto from Footsteps Africa

Based in Malawi, Footsteps Africa focuses on empowering rural disadvantaged women, children and adolescents to claim their social and economic rights and access essential services. They implement a multi-sectoral approach focusing on access to clean water and WASH, women’s economic empowerment, sustainable farming and education and reproductive health. They joined our portfolio in 2019.

Program achievements

  • Footsteps Africa partnered with the local health center extension workers and village clinics to train and share critical messages for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in 20 villages with a population of 8,560.

  • Five water boreholes were successfully drilled, providing safe and clean drinking water to 3,400 households in the Jombo area of Southern Malawi.

  • 74 families started producing their own homegrown nutritious food through home gardens.

  • 307 women engaged in village savings and lending and small business activities, including soap making.

Organizational development

In 2020, Footsteps Africa conducted a comprehensive organizational capacity self-assessment through a participative approach involving their board members and staff. The assessment (using Vibrant Village Foundation's OCAT tool) helped them identify and prioritize their organizational capacity initiatives in a clear action plan. As a result, they have improved their M&E systems by hiring a part-time professional and setting up a DeltaGIS M&E system. As part of their fundraising strategy, they also re-designed their website and produced a video documenting their impact.

VVF Offices

Harvesting of farm produce at Sangbaka demonstration farm

VVF Ghana

Under the leadership of Osman Mohammed, the VVF Ghana team successfully navigated the challenges of COVID-19 and made progress toward their 3-year program targets:

  • 1000+ farmers practiced sustainable, climate-resilient farming practices with support from model farmers, farmer-based organizations, demonstration farms and exchange visits.

  • Kofi Bennibe, an agro-ecology champion supported by VVF, was awarded the "best conservation agriculture farmer in Sissala West" by the district Dept. of Agriculture.

  • 73 farmers (57 men, 16 women) were trained as wildfire fighting volunteers.

  • A 3-block classroom was built and furnished in the community of Sina.

  • 33 child rights groups met regularly to prevent gender-based violence in schools and communities. 72 Gender Model Families served as role models for healthier gender dynamics.

  • Local borehole mechanics trained by VVF maintained 150 water pumps in 36 communities.

VVF Kenya

In his first full year as Director of VVF Kenya, Geoffrey Nyambane worked closely with the team in Kenya to incorporate feedback from program participants and stakeholders. The results led to programs that are more efficient and more responsive to the evolving needs in communities.

  • In September, the VVF Kenya team recruited a record 8,218 farmers to participate in the 2021 farm input program, surpassing the target of 7,500. 55% were returning and 45% were new recruits.

  • When schools closed nationally, VVF Kenya’s Early Learning Volunteer (ELV) program adapted its model to support students learning from home. 150 ELVs returned to 50 partner schools when they partially-reopened in October, supporting 4,196 students.

  • Hand washing stations were installed in 50 partner schools plus 30 additional schools in VVF's service area which helped these schools comply with the national reopening standards.

VVF Ecuador

In 2020, the VVF Board made a decision to wind-down the VVF office in Ecuador over the coming year. In consultation with community leaders and advisors, the local VVF staff decided to form a new locally-registered organization to carry on the work of VVF Ecuador. Danny Cabrera, who has been with VVF Ecuador for the past 8 years, is leading the team through this transition, focused on:

  • Completing the legal process to form an independent, local organization

  • Defining their 4-year program model that helps farmers transition to using climate-resilient, agro-ecological practices

  • Developing an organizational budget, analyzing their costs and building the capacity to fundraise

We will continue supporting the team in Ecuador throughout this transition and are committed to helping them succeed into the future.

"We are confident in having a team that deeply understands the realities of local farmers and are excited to build on our years of experience in people-centered endogenous development." - Danny Cabrera

Practicing planting techniques in Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. Photo from The Gardens Edge.
Practicing planting techniques in Baja Verapaz, GuatemalaPhoto from The Gardens Edge

Evolving our Grantmaking

This spring, our team witnessed the movement for racial justice erupt around us, as Portland, Oregon became a center of sustained demonstrations to protest police violence and systemic racism against Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities. The call to action for real and durable change to our cities policies and institutions is enduring and inspired us.

As the Black Lives Matter protests unfolded, our team grappled with many of the same issues, examining the role of power and racism within the field of international philanthropy. As we waded deep into these conversations, we found guidance and inspiration from the staff at Segal Family Foundation, from Jessamyn Shams-Lau formerly from the Peery Foundation who led the way in grantee-centric grantmaking, from Katie Bunten-Wamaru and the advisory board members of the African Visionary Fund and from Degan Ali the Founder of NEAR, a network of organizations led by people from the Global South.

Ms. Bunten-Wamaru and Ms. Ali were both featured in an opinion piece in the NYTimes, Foreign Aid is Having a Reckoning and are just a few of the prominent voices in the steady chorus calling for philanthropy to evolve, to become fairer and more just. For us, this process is underway and ongoing.

In 2019, we renewed our commitment to directly supporting local organizations. We recognize that local organizations are best positioned to engage with communities and implement effective programs within the local context. As we’ve witnessed first hand from the global pandemic, local organizations are essential for providing timely, culturally specific responses in the face of natural disasters. Yet historically, local organizations have not had equal access to international funding and often do not receive a fair share to operate their programs when they partner with INGO's as subgrantees. Of the $9 billion dollars (USD) in grants from U.S. foundations directed to Sub-Saharan Africa between 2011-2015 only 5.2% went to local organizations [Source]. We can do better.

In 2020, we revised our grantmaking approach, which is the strategy and mechanics behind how we operate as a Foundation. We identified grantmaking practices that created barriers and replaced them with ones that give organizations the financial resources, the flexibility and the mutual accountability to deliver on their mission. As a result, we have streamlined our reporting requirements and are now making more unrestricted grants.

The Year Ahead

As we move into 2021, we are setting ambitious new goals to grow our portfolio and strengthen our partnerships with local organizations. Here’s a quick snapshot of our work plan for the year ahead:

  1. Develop a Growth Plan - Our goal is to double our grantmaking to $8M by 2030 which will require new staff configurations and systems to support a growing portfolio.

  2. Grow a quality portfolio with a focus on local organizations - In 2021, we expect to increase our grantmaking by 22% from $3.3 to $4M. We currently have eight new local organizations in our pipeline and our outreach is ongoing.

  3. Develop our Support beyond Funding Plan - We will explore with grantees different ways to provide support beyond funding to accompany them in their organizational development and spark knowledge sharing.

  4. Strengthen our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) culture - We are committed to ongoing learning, to increasing our awareness and to spreading a culture where everyone feels welcome and valued.

  5. Strengthen our peer network - We will continue expanding our network among peer Foundations, to learn and share best practices in international philanthropy.

We are filled with tremendous gratitude to our grantees and peer foundations who have taught us invaluable lessons this past year. As we move forward, we are humbly committed to our ongoing learning so we can effectively move more resources to local change makers helping communities thrive.

Thank you, as always, for your support and for being with us on this journey.

Ken, Laura, Marieme, Xavier and Dana

Vibrant Village Foundation U.S. Team