DGMT: Dynamic evolution, but we could still be smarter
By David Orton, Chairperson of DGMT’s Board
This year marks ten years since DGMT shifted from being a purely grant-making foundation to one aimed at making a systemic difference within certain chosen focus areas. What began as an evolutionary change rapidly changed pace with the arrival of new genes in the form of our new CEO in 2010. Over the next few months, we repackaged our portfolios into a five-year strategy, which came into effect from the beginning of 2011. In our Five-year Review Report we aim to synthesise what has been achieved since then.
It was only in 2012 that the word ‘selfie’ really took off. It has come to symbolise the fast-paced world of communication, where image, voice and text merge in real-time exchanges. Few have the time or inclination to wade through long annual reports anymore. This report brings you a snapshot of the past five years: what we’ve funded, and why; what’s worked well, and what hasn’t; and most importantly, whether we’ve made a significant impact on the lives of people in South Africa. We’ll try to use images to make our case. Here’s the first one – a ‘selfie’ of DGMT’s effectiveness over the past five years (a selfrating out of ten for each criterion).
The DG Murray Trust is an exciting place to be. The team and implementing partners have come up with many new ideas and tried them out – some successfully; others less so. Through co-funding and business partnerships, we’ve leveraged almost as much money as we’ve allocated from our own resources. We helped build new knowledge and packaged and communicated it in attractive ways. Through the Activate! Leadership network, we’ve supported probably the most unlikely network of young people in the country – crossing race, class and political divides. Similarly, the Innovation Edge has connected people together who usually operate in different circles, in support of early learning. This is how innovation happens. But we haven’t done enough in this regard. Many development debates still seem to operate in echo chambers, where people of like minds come together. In particular, our engagement with the business sector has been inadequate, given our focus on connecting young people to the world of work. We have not yet achieved the systemic changes we would like to see in early childhood development (ECD), education and the employability of young people. But there are signs of progress: Treasury has allocated substantial increases to expand communitybased programmes for ECD; the value of reading as the basis for school achievement is now well-recognised; and a new model of public schooling is being piloted. In each of these areas, DGMT – together with its collaboration partners – has contributed significantly to the bigger effort.
Could we do more to make a fundamental impact on the lives of people in South Africa? Could we be smarter in the way we do it? Yes. We will spend 2016 building on our efforts, but also step back from our work to gauge our effectiveness and to consider ways of doing things better. The Board and staff of the DG Murray Trust join me in thanking you all for partnering with us, and invite you to push us towards greater impact.
You can read our Five-year Review Report here.