Hystra consolidated insights working closely with the Toilet Board Coalition during its inception then acting as its Secretariat, complemented with a series of interviews with TBC members, partners, and initiatives. The paper starts with an overview of the TBC and its initiatives, and then draws key lessons for a wider audience in the development and business community. More specifically 5 lessons are on catalyzing innovative market-based initiatives, and 10 lessons on launching an alliance working towards combined social and business objectives.

Key Insights

Start with visionary organisations and people. Partners need a strong vision and appetite to buy into the risk and stretch on the long-term

  1. State the core alliance values explicitly. They help as a compass to address ambiguity , diverging agendas, multiple possibilities, and ensure members come with the right individual spirit 

  2. Invest in trust-building and vision alignment. This has proven to be the basis for efficient and effective collaboration 

  3. Accept and manage ambiguity in strategy, agendas, and commitments. These cannot and should not necessarily be resolved immediately, until confronted with concrete cases

  4. Design sound governance structure. A diverse group is necessary by design, but decision-making and advisory roles should be separated and iterated. 

  5. Ensure members have the right level of seniority to signal commitments and follow through when making decisions (that often need to be made on the spot)

  6. Balance secretariat resources carefully. Quick wins on projects fuel commitment and should be prioritized, but secretariats should also ensure that members are fully involved to create ownership and commitment

  7. Work in small groups with clear responsibilities. It’s more efficient and create opportunities for relationship building

  8. Support members internally while stepping up comms. Effective ways to generate engagement include involving top leadership and staff, and leveraging external communications

  9. Design a sustainable finding strategy. Resources needed to run alliances should not be underestimated. While members’ donations drive commitments, they may not be enough or come with too many strings attached. Other ways of funding should be explored.