top of page

The World Bank


Helped assess the progress of the World Bank’s Strategic Compact, a “transformational” strategy that aimed to increase development effectiveness through more holistic programming and increased resources to the frontlines.

Responding to calls for change and challenges to its legitimacy, the World Bank under James Wolfensohn undertook an ambitious program of reform, embodied in its “Strategic Compact.” The Compact – accompanied by a significant infusion of new investments over a four year period – embraced a vision of excellence, aiming to increase development effectiveness through more holistic programming and increased resources to the frontlines. Four years later, GivingWorks’ Nazir Ahmad was the lead consultant to a cross-functional team of Bank staff tasked with assessing progress. Through this effort, GivingWorks was able to understand and assess the strategic thinking at the corporate level and delve into the Bank’s operational and managerial practices. The report to the Board, described by Mr. Wolfensohn as “tough but fair,” captured the considerable progress made but also highlighted areas where the Bank remained deficient. The report also recommended concrete steps to tackle organizational rigidities. Following the assessment, Ahmad was engaged to help draft the Strategic Directions Paper and its companion Management Action Plan that outlined the implementation roadmap for the following four years.

Conducted a qualitative assessment of the World Bank’s engagement with foundations, with particular attention to each party’s perceptions, needs, and perspectives.

Recognizing the strategic potential of emerging players in the philanthropic sector, GivingWorks was engaged by the Bank to undertake an independent qualitative assessment of the Bank’s engagement with foundations, with particular attention to perceptions, needs, and perspectives from both sides. Using extensive consultations with senior Bank staff and several influential foundations, GivingWorks laid out some of the key challenges and strategic opportunities vis-à-vis the foundation world and made concrete recommendations for cultivating these increasingly impactful relationships. This report included a frank assessment of the internal obstacles to effective Bank-foundation collaboration.

Helped advance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the World Bank and introduced the "MDG Plus" concept to help middle income countries meaningfully and productively participate in the MDGs. Applied this framework to help Thailand develop its customized approach to the MDGs.

Prior to endorsing the MDGs, Bank staff held widespread skepticism about utilizing the MDGs as operational guidance; some saw the MDGs as an artificial, “one-size-fits-all” political mandate, while others had credible concerns about their achievability, associated reputational risks, and potential to dilute the Bank’s traditional emphasis on macroeconomics and infrastructure. GivingWorks played a catalytic role in helping to clarify, position, and embed the MDGs into the operations of the Bank. Our engagement began by facilitating a senior staff working group, which, building on a robust analytical foundation, achieved consensus on the MDGs within two months. Subsequently, we devised a holistic analytical tool to pinpoint systemic bottlenecks to achieving the MDGs. This methodology has been productively employed by several country teams. Given that the MDGs are largely viewed as most salient to the lowest income countries, we designed an adaptable MDG Plus framework for Middle Income Countries. GivingWorks helped implement this framework with the Government of Thailand by designing and conducting a hands-on workshop with senior officials from seven key ministries. Working with counterparts in Bangkok, we helped frame the analysis, advised on the selection of priorities and indicators, revised drafts, and ensured the report represented the best global thinking. At the ceremony launching the report, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan commended Thailand “for setting ambitious MDG-Plus targets well beyond those agreed internationally.” 

Read the Case Study...

Worked closely with the World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific (EAP) regional leadership and country teams to develop and test a new integrated results management tool.

As a global organization, the Bank faced difficulties designing a results management tool that could reliably track and integrate results across countries and generate meaningful, decision-relevant data at multiple levels. GivingWorks was engaged to work closely with the Bank’s East Asia and Pacific (EAP) regional leadership and country teams to develop and test a new integrated results management tool. The tool was designed to capture the “missing middle” between the granular output metrics and the high-level development outcome metrics by tracking intermediate progress on priority outcomes from the Bank’s Country Assistance Strategies. The tool also enabled aggregation of results at the country, regional and global levels. The tool was piloted by several country teams and has been subsequently used to inform resource allocation discussions and mid-year reviews.

Systems Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results (SABER)

The World Bank’s Global Education team developed a set of education policy diagnostic tools for policymakers and citizens to know what reforms are necessary for their schools and universities to provide learning outcomes that meet national goals.  This SABER toolkit allows developing countries to examine their education policies against global standards and best practices. 


The SABER team engaged GivingWorks to develop an integrative framework for how individual tools focused on education sub-systems fit together and provide a coherent view of the broader education system. GivingWorks’ analysis identified crucial policy topics for inclusion and intuitive ways of organizing diverse policy topics into a manageable number of tools.  Given the importance of a system-wide perspective in policy reform, this integrative framework also mapped how policy decisions in one part of an education system influence policy choices elsewhere in the system, allowing countries to identify entry points and sequencing as they address various subsystems.

Zambia: Jobs & Prosperity Initiative

The World Bank’s Jobs & Prosperity: Building Zambia’s Competitiveness (JPC) initiative sought to improve the competitiveness of three key industries in Zambia: cattle, tourism and copper. Instead of focusing on barriers to progress, JPC hones in on priority results within each of the select industries and builds stakeholder demand for desired results. 


GivingWorks developed a synthesis report summarizing a large body of technical research papers on the three priority industries as well as on the political economy and business environment in Zambia.  For each industry, GivingWorks distilled key performance constraints, areas of opportunity, and priority outcomes that, if achieved, could deliver meaningful impact for the country's economic development and poverty reduction agendas.  These priority outcomes, along with industry stakeholder workshops co-facilitated by GivingWorks, formed the foundation for the second phase of the project, which surfaced innovative ways to reach the outcomes. GivingWorks helped develop the second phase roadmap, including framing several Challenge Competitions to incubate “outside-the-box” approaches to advance priority goals.



Designed and led a broad-based strategic review of UNICEF’s global organization and offered actionable recommendations for more effectively delivering results for children.

UNICEF selected GivingWorks through a world-wide competition to design and lead a broad-based strategic review and to highlight opportunities to more effectively deliver results for children. We conducted a thorough assessment of UNICEF’s program, management effectiveness, and spoke with staff at all levels of the organization as well as with external partners and client and donor governments. The year-long assessment and analysis produced a set of actionable recommendations designed to enhance the organization’s strategic coherence, position it to drive systemic change for children, and build readiness to capitalize on external trends and opportunities. The proposals highlighted substantial partnership opportunities; created an organizational design that combined cohesive structures, efficient systems and processes, a platform for programmatic innovations, and concrete proposals on how to build a robust internal capacity to deliver on the bold vision of UNICEF. Later, UNICEF management presented a paper updating its Executive Board on the sustained effort underway to implement the long-term shifts recommended by the review. (The UNICEF Organizational Review was co-funded by UNICEF and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.)

Read the UNICEF Summary Report...

Read the Progress Update...



UNAIDS, the United Nations’ Joint Programme for HIV/AIDS, was facing the global economic crisis and other longer-term trends impacting the availability of AIDS funding.  UNAIDS engaged GivingWorks to develop an initial framework for strengthening its resource base, including strategies for targeting distinct donor segments to solidify and diversify unrestricted “core” resources.


GivingWorks conducted extensive interviews with UNAIDS staff, leading foundations, and bilateral and global funders to understand key trends in the global health and development assistance landscape and recommended several strategies for to strengthen UNAIDS' targeting of and positioning with donors. GivingWorks also identified specific opportunities to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the Resource Mobilization Office’s function. At the project's conclusion, GivingWorks prepared a roadmap for implementing the recommendations. 


Afterwards, a UNAIDS advisor stated, “The GivingWorks team quickly came up to speed on the evolution of UNAIDS and the AIDS epidemic and effectively honed in on the key resource mobilization opportunities and challenges before UNAIDS.  Bringing an understanding of the international aid architecture, they effectively situated our challenges within the context of a dynamic aid and global health financing environment.  They demonstrated strong insights on the shifts underway as well as the inherent uncertainties.”



The International Finance Corporation (IFC), an internal organization within the World Bank Group, recognized the growing attention to market-based solutions to serve low income populations, the so-called “base of the pyramid” (BoP) space. IFC sought to understand the range of efforts being undertaken to serve the BoP market as it prepared to launch its own BoP strategy development process. 


GivingWorks conducted an initial stocktaking and mapping of the types of assistance being delivered to enterprises serving the BoP, researching key bilateral and multilateral development institutions and social investment funds.  Informed by desk research and expert interviews, GivingWorks articulated the key needs of and complexities faced by businesses operating in BoP markets. GivingWorks developed an overview of select actors’ BoP intervention strategies and identified potential gaps and strategic opportunities for IFC engagement.

bottom of page