The Think Tank Initiative (TTI) provided over 40 think tanks in 20 countries with core, non-earmarked funding for 10 years (2009-2019). This support allowed the institutions to attract, retain, and build local talent; develop an independent research program; and invest in public outreach to ensure that research results informed and influenced national and regional policy debates. TTI also supported peer-to-peer review, learning, and exchange among the think tanks.

TTI sought to nurture the long-term sustainability of the think tanks it funded. The initiative combined core funding with capacity-development support by program officers and external experts in three broad areas: 

  1. Research methods and skills: The heart of a think tank's work is its research. That makes research quality critical not only to a think tank's success, but also to its very identity and reputation. It must therefore be robust, forward-looking, and transformative research. 
  2. Policy engagement and communication: All the think tanks TTI supported aspired to have a positive impact on the lives of people in their countries. Policy engagement – that is, participating effectively in the policy-making process – is critical to achieving that impact. 
  3. General organizational effectiveness: No matter the quality of its research and its relationships with policy makers and other stakeholders, a think tank needs to be well run. The key to organizational effectiveness is not only to have all the right strategies, systems and functions, but also to integrate them into the organizational structure and culture so that they work well together.

Throughout the program, TTI has documented the contributions that think tank research has made to policy environments. The initiative also evaluated and reflected on what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to strengthening think tanks. The valuable learning emerging from this decade-long journey can inform donors, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners who seek to promote evidence-based policymaking.

Discover valuable outputs from this 10 year initiative by checking out the Results page. You’ll find project outputs, impact graphics, past evaluations as well as TTI Insights - a series of 4-page knowledge briefs that distill ten years of learning from the Think Tank Initiative to inform donors, researchers, and practitioners working to strengthen policy research. Through the TTI Insights, you’ll learn program findings about: Positioning think tanks for policy influence, gender and think tanks, governance and leadership models, funding models for think tanks, enhancing research quality in think tanks, making the case for core funding, supporting change through effective program officer accompaniment. 

You can also learn how the policy community perceived knowledge and evidence from think tanks by reviewing the recent Global Report on the 2018 Policy Community Survey commissioned by TTI. For an overview of the report, check out the 4-page brief.