A plan to transform IPPF

A roadmap to radical governance reform and a refreshed resource allocation model


IPPF is at the beginning of a transformation. From crisis, a groundswell of support from Member Associations (MA’s), Governing Council (GC), donors, partners and staff resulted in agreement on a process which will change how the Federation is governed and run. This document maps out that journey over the next six months.

At the end of this period we will have agreed a plan of radical governance and financial reforms that will allow the Federation to fulfil its potential, and better serve those who need it to succeed.

The GC agreed at its May 19 meeting that an accountable, agile and modernized Federation is critical to its survival. This momentum provided a strong mandate for the Secretariat, with support from the Executive Committee to proceed with the reform. It is the opportunity of a lifetime.

The GC requested that the Director General (DG) sets up an independent review of governance and the process through which IPPF allocates core (unrestricted) resources across regions and countries. It was agreed that its proposals be put to an extraordinary general assembly of all MAs, alongside partners, donors and the people we serve to be convened in November 2019.

New leadership had set about the process of developing the Business Plan, the 3 year financial plan (both approved in November 2018) and the recently improved safeguarding and financial plan policies, which opened the door to tackling this reform and provided the background against which radical changes need to be implemented.

Scope of Work (Phase I)


“It’s vital that charities get their heads around governance… It’s about attitudes and culture, whether a charity puts its values into practice. It’s about how trustees make decisions and how well they understand what’s going on. We have seen the consequences of failing to do that.”

The UK Charity Commission

The governance review will focus on IPPF’s system of governance at global and regional levels. It will review the structure and processes for decision-making, transparency, accountability, control and behaviour at the top of the organisation. It will be tasked with proposing a new, fit-for-purpose and radically different model which reflects the uniqueness and diversity of our Federation, enables agility, optimises and sustains the potential of the organisation, and always supports our critical mission.

Multiple governance reviews have already taken place in IPPF. Most identified that the current system provides significant challenges in terms of skills and representation, participation in between meetings and responsiveness to changes in the environment. But substantial reform was not forthcoming.

The dysfunctions of the current system limit our ability to drive efficiencies and effectiveness, decision-making, and information sharing. Ways of operating have not been open or transparent. There has been a lack of clarity, role overlap – and at times overreach – resulting in conflict and lack of trust between governance and management, as well as between global and regional levels. Looking back at the agendas, it is clear governance has been concerned with short-term fiduciary responsibility, without attention to the necessary skills required of Honorary Officers or trustees. There has been little or no attention to sustainability and long-term orientation. These will all be key considerations in the review.

While there is not a one size fits all governance structure, it is widely agreed that the principles of good governance include being participatory, accountable, transparent, responsive, and committed to organisational values. Trustees within that system follow the rule of law, act with integrity, and ensure corruption and abuse of power is minimized and never enabled. Trustees take the views of minorities into account and ensure the voices of the most vulnerable in society inform decision-making. Good governance is responsive to the present and future needs of societies, and great governance plays a critical role in ensuring management are empowered to place strategy and impact are at the heart of their decision making.

In Phase I, this review will focus on governance structures and processes at global and regional levels, with attention to the relationship between the regions and MA’s; the work led out of the business planning process on MA-centricity will guide this review. It will not address issues at the national level, nor look into larger questions about volunteering or working through non-MA partners. At the General Assembly in November, the mandate for a second phase of reforms to commence in 2020 will be communicated in detail. This will be an opportunity to address any findings that have emerged in Phase I.

Resource allocation


“Show me your strategy and I’ll tell you how well you write. Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what your strategy is.”

Henry Mintzberg

Donor core (unrestricted) grants are a vital contribution to IPPF; they represent about $60M/year. Project (restricted) funding through the Secretariat of about $70M/year represent the great majority (and increasingly so) of international funding flowing into IPPF. For the international picture to be complete, one would need to add the (restricted) funds flowing through MAs with International Programmes (MAIPs) to MAs or external partners. International funding represents about one third of the total expenditure of grant receiving MAs; much less in total Federation expenditure.

This Independent review will focus primarily on the first category described above: the allocation of core (unrestricted) funding across the Federation.

The resource allocation model based on which core funding to MAs has been allocated across the Federation, was approved in 1997 and last reviewed (very slightly) in 2004. It currently stands as follows:

Location MAs Secretariat Governance Total
Africa 44.5% 24.4% 12.1% 37.3%
Arab World 10.0% 7.6% 7.3% 9.1%
Europe 4.0% 10.6% 7.0% 5.8%
East South East Asia Oceania 9.5% 5.6% 5.0% 8.1%
South Asia 16.0% 7.3% 2.9% 13.0%
Western Hemisphere 16.0% 10.9% 8.0% 14.1%
Central Office/ London 0.0% 33.6% 57.7% 12.6%
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The total average contribution from each region will be considered against the full amount of core available that is allocated annually to regions through this formula. This has remained unchanged irrespective of renewed strategy, socioeconomic and political development, evolution of unmet need for SRHRs or the rapid growth of a portfolio of restricted projects. The review will also be informed by current and projected investment flows from restricted funding.

The way regions then allocate funds to individual MAs is not uniform and often is not informed by the prevailing evidence in regard to need or current performance. It is based on historic allocation, region-specific criteria and past performance. The performance assessment has emphasised quantity over quality, and on serving the general versus the most vulnerable population.

The first report of the independent experts should review IPPF’s experience with this model, present alternative models used in the sector (GFATM, GAVI and others), lessons learnt, outline potential options and a set of recommendations focused on ensuring IPPF is both sustainable and better able to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights. This report should also set a trajectory toward an operational model that underpins the approved resource allocation.

While decisions that shape the restricted projects portfolio and how to best ‘integrate’ bilateral MAIP funding might also be of value, those considerations will not be prioritised during phase I, but will form recommendations for Phase II where restricted funding will also be considered. Issues related to membership fees or other possible options to contribute to Secretariat funding will also not be considered in this time frame.

The 2020 budget will follow current model. The newly approved set up will determine 2021 allocations.

Expected Results (deliverables) of phase 1 reviews

  1. A report that captures the main features from recent governance reviews, contains commission specific findings, presents comparative studies/findings from other federative structures and puts forward specific options and recommendations to guide an IPPF proposal.
  2. A proposed improved and agile IPPF governance structure and aligned constitutional arrangements that align to the necessary radical reform and that can be voted on at the extraordinary General Assembly to be held in November 2019.
  3. A report that presents learnings from previous attempts to modify the allocation model used to distribute core resources model, contains commission specific findings, presents comparative studies/findings from other global funds (GFATM, GAVI, etc) and puts forward specific options to guide an IPPF proposal focused on radical reform.
  4. A proposal to improve/appropriate IPPF resource allocation arrangements that can be voted on at the extraordinary General Assembly to be held in November 2019.
  5. A report that presents governance and resource allocation elements to be considered in Phase II.


The many letters received from MAs, staff, donors and supporters and the GC of May 2019 all stressed the need for an independent review that proposes radical changes to IPPF’s governance and resource allocation systems. The DG was tasked with setting this up.

The process will be led by independent experts, who have been selected via preliminary consultations with existing trustees, external partners and donors. They will put their own proposals to the General Assembly.

The ambitious goals of the Commissions, and the pressing time frame for launch in order to deliver outcomes at the General Assembly in November, required the appointment of Commissioners with an excellent understanding of the Federation and its complexity, as well as a degree of distance from the current context to be clearly independent.  Further selection criteria for the teams included expertise in governance and financing and a familiarity with SRHR. Members were also selected based on their engagement leading into the reform process.

The two independent expert Commissions will provide informed perspectives and advice and serve as conduits for further key stakeholder engagements. The commissions will provide direct advice and reach out to MAs (staff and volunteers), regional and central Secretariat offices, donors and partners to gather their input, share progress and create engagement in the lead to the extraordinary General Assembly. Commission members will lead specific sessions at existing meetings (Regional Councils) as well as focused, consultative meetings to gather and test ideas. They will serve as antennas to broaden engagement and will discuss progress where possible.

In addition, the Commissions, with Secretariat support shall set up:

  • An interactive website and forum that will enable open and public contributions from all stakeholders.
  • A web-based survey.

They will also organise consultations to discuss and learn from GFATM, GAVI and other relevant models; and this will inform the final recommendations.


Key consultation dates
  • European Network RC (June 14-16)
  • Donors’ meeting (June 16-18)
  • Donors’ Advisory Group meeting (June 18)
  • ESEAOR RC (July 6-7)
  • Africa Region RC (July 24-26)
  • Survey launch (25 July)
  • Secretariat webinars and CO meeting (1 August)
  • ExCo Consultation (2 August)
  • ED Advisory Group (tbd)
  • SAR RC and ED meeting (20-21 August)

In addition to these we shall organise (virtual and face-to-face) thematic meetings with particular focus on youth-centred governance and on aligning resource allocation with a MA centric business models.

Reports (1&3) with preliminary findings, learning and options/recommendations will be ready by September 16 at the latest, and published online.

Reports (2&4) with proposals to go be voted at GA will be ready for translation (and subsequent) distribution by October 21st at the latest.

Report (5) with areas for a potential phase II will be ready by October 28th.

Terms of Reference

The name of the working parties shall be the Independent Governance Reform Commission (IGRC) and the Independent Commission on Resource Allocation (ICRA). The Commissions’ role is to develop the required reports and recommendations in accordance with the methodology outlined here.

The Commissions’ Chairs will maintain close working relationships with the Director General, the GC’s ExCo and the Legal Advisor, whilst remaining independent of the formal structures.

The Commissions will remain extant until the GC meetings in November 2019. The GC is expected to endorse all approvals made by the General Assembly. A second phase and mandate are expected to be approved, and timing for Phase 1 deliverables will be defined in the coming months.

The desired outcomes are:

  • a series of findings, actionable recommendations and a proposal to improve governance and constitutional arrangements. (IGRC)
  • a series of findings, actionable recommendations and a new proposal through which to allocate core (unrestricted) resources across regions and MAs, with a view to considering the operational model in Phase II.

Independence, consultation and transparency are critical to the Commissions’ success. The DG commits to publishing statements the Commissions may issue within their remit, to provide the Commissions with financial support within constraints of the administrative budget. A plan on consultation and communications in relation to the Commissions is imminent.

The Commissions undertake to:

  • Seek input from MAs (staff and volunteers), regional and central office staff, donors and partners.
  • Oversee a safe, transparent process that respects the confidentiality of individuals when requested.
  • Keep the DG and EXCO informed of its timetable and areas of interest.
  • Seek comments from constituencies on preliminary findings, recommendations and proposals intended for the General Assembly.
  • Submit formal findings, recommendations and proposals to the DG in time for distribution to MAs to consider and vote at the General Assembly.


Governance Reform Commission Resource Allocation Commission
Independent Experts Steven Sinding
(Chair & author)

Lynette Lowndes
Legal advisor: Philip Kirkpatrick
(tbc & author)

Gorik Ooms(tbc)
MAs Hans Linde (RFSU)
Edward Marienga (FHOK)
Erin Sines (MacArthur)
Ton Coenen (Rutgers)
Fadoua Bakhadda (AMPF)
Melanie Janine Kanika (FPASL)
Donors (tdb) Donor (tbd) Donor (tbd)
Youth Shanshan He (CFPA) Kobe Smith (GRPA)
Advisors Jonny Oates Sharman Stone
EXCO Liaison Tracy Robinson Kun Tang (CFPA)
Secretariat Support Tomoko/Achille/Paula Varun/Fatma/Casper