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How It Works

In the developing world, independent policy research institutions – or think tanks – are in a unique position to effect positive change in their societies. By generating and analyzing credible local data, they can enhance public policy debates and promote more objective, evidence-based decision-making that makes real, sustained improvements in people’s lives.

With limited domestic sources of support at present, international donors are a key source of funding for Southern think tanks. Yet that funding is also limited, and is usually intended for specific projects. As a result, most of these think tanks are restricted to carrying out commissioned research, rather than setting an agenda that responds to local needs.

The Think Tank Initiative grew out of a desire to unlock the potential of Southern policy research institutions. We aim to provide them with the support they need to improve the quality of their research, the effectiveness of their organizations, and their interactions with policymakers, civil society and the media. This allows them to increase their impact on social and economic policies in their countries and beyond. 

TTI provides two main kinds of support to participating think tanks: core funding and capacity development.

Core Funding

The defining feature of the Think Tank Initiative lies in its provision of core funding to participating institutions. These non-earmarked, multi-year grants help fund both the think tank's research program and its operating costs. Provision of such stable financial support is seen as critical in giving organizations both the flexibility to adjust and be proactive to changing circumstances, and the stability to engage in sustained research on particular issues.

Capacity Development

TTI complements core funding with a comprehensive capacity development program designed to strengthen funded think tanks in three key areas – research methods and skills, policy engagement and communications, and organizational effectiveness.

Our capacity development program works through three channels of delivery: