1. What is the SAS+ program?  

Stopping As Success: Locally Led Transitions in Development (SAS+) is a collaborative learning project (2021-2025), that looks into how to make INGO transitions more responsible. The project aims to enable development partnerships to be more locally led, for transitions to be more effective and sustainable for local people, and for development practitioners to be more responsive to local dynamics. 

SAS+ builds on learning outcomes collaboratively developed through the original Stopping As Success (SAS) program’s (2017-2020) evidence base of 20 original case studies, and corresponding tools and resources to foster responsible transitions and partnerships that promote local ownership and leadership. SAS+ will apply these tools and learning through an accompaniment approach model to assist existing partnerships in transition and to generate new learning to enable future responsible transitions to local leadership.

2. Where did the idea for SAS+ come from?

When the original SAS program ended in 2020, we felt there was much more work to do in order to test, refine and sustain the lessons learned about responsible transition processes. While as a field, the development sector is full of information about how to partner equitably and to be led by local organizations, there is little in the way of examples of how to transition responsibly in order to make way for greater local leadership. Building off of the original SAS program, SAS+ aims to fill that gap by accompanying organizations going through transition processes.

3. How is SAS+ different from the original SAS program?

SAS+ is focusing on applying the resources developed during the original SAS program to organizations going through transitions. SAS+ is led by the same consortium organizations: CDA, Peace Direct and Search for Common Ground. The only difference in consortium structure is that CDA is leading the management of the award (whereas Peace Direct led the original SAS program).

4. Why does this topic matter? 

Despite growing calls and an evidence base for localization, and shifting the power to local actors, the broader aid system continues to be externally driven. Donors and INGOs are increasingly committed to supporting locally led development and self-reliance, and directing funding to local actors. In tandem, local actors continue to speak up on the power imbalances of the development sector and the need for greater accountability to local communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the devastating effects of unplanned exit strategies and how this can jeopardize the sustainability of organizations and programs. In light of this, examples of mutually agreed exit strategies, collaborative decision-making and transfers of power are rare. SAS cases highlight tangible and intangible elements in INGO transitions: legitimacy, power, partnerships, capacities, financial sustainability and operational decisions that support responsible transitions. Our lessons and guidelines aim to inform better policies and practices and to empower internal champions at INGOs and CSOs who advocate for and manage transitions.

5. What tools and resources do you have available?

The SAS+ tools and resources are tailored for specific audiences (donors, INGO, or local NGO/CSO) and grouped by theme. The six core themes that are critical to transition processes are: Financial sustainability, communication, capacity development, leadership, power and legitimacy, and partnership. You can find the full suite of resources on the Resources Library.

6. Definitions:

a. How does SAS+ define ‘Local’?

The term ‘local’ has different connotations in different contexts. It is also a contested term, and SAS+ acknowledges that it can be used disparagingly. In the context of SAS+’s research, ‘local organization’ is used to refer to CSOs or NGOs in the Global South that are undergoing a process of transition in their partnership with an INGO. This encompasses organizations that work at the local and national level. The broader term ‘local actors’ recognizes the diversity of this group, which can include communities, newly created NGOs or CSOs, NGOs that have devolved from an international federation, or local and national governments.

b. How does SAS+ define ‘Exit’ or ‘Transition’?

Based on SAS+’s research, there are two broad types of exits and transitions: organizational and programmatic. See the SAS+ Synthesis document (p. 7) for more detail.

Transition An organizational transition is defined as a transfer of responsibility and ownership from an international to a local organization while maintaining ongoing collaboration and partnership. A programmatic transition is defined as the withdrawal of international actors following the close-down of a program, with a transfer of responsibility and ownership to local entities.
ExitAn organizational exit is defined as the withdrawal of an international organization from a country without a transfer of responsibility and ownership to a local entity, and with no continued relationship with former local partners.A programmatic exit is defined as the withdrawal of international actors following the close-down of a program, with no transfer of responsibility or ownership to informal local entities.

7. How can I get involved?

SAS+ is offering a variety of different ways to support organizations going through a transition. If you are interested in long-term accompaniment, in short-term support through the Transition Helpdesk, or if you just want to talk to a member of SAS+ to explore opportunities to collaborate, visit the Partner with SAS+ page. Additionally, sign up for our newsletter and follow the consortium organizations on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest learning on responsible transitions.