The Asary Foundation
Our vision is of a world where people actively work together to create productive, inclusive and just societies.
The Asfari Foundation’s mission is to help ensure a good education for and encourage entrepreneurship among young people from the Levant and the UK, to support them to work together to create positive change, and to strengthen civil society in their communities and countries. We will very occasionally make humanitarian donations.
1. Passion: We care deeply about the communities we work with, and this drives our work and approach.
2. Diversity and inclusivity: We ensure that the Foundation and its partners are inclusive and work with all equally and fairly.
3. Partnership: We will listen to, share learning with, and create linkages between our partners to improve our work and theirs.
4. Excellence: We strive for professionalism and excellence in our work and that of our partners.
5. Fairness: We aim to be fair in our procedures and open about our successes and failures, and expect the same from our partners.
The Foundation operates primarily as a grantmaker, by providing financial support to organisations that they believe are well-placed to help them achieve their mission. They also offer partners advice, networking and capacity development.
They take a long term approach to their work. They are primarily concerned with addressing systemic issues that restrict the development of a resilient and effective civil society. They want to help build and support effective organisations rooted in their communities. They are also aware of all the challenges faced by young people that limit their ability to thrive and to contribute to their societies through civil society, business or social enterprise. Education is the first step on this journey.
They recognise the enormous hardship that many people in their countries of focus are experiencing. They are convinced that there is a role for the Foundation in helping to alleviate that suffering.
They believe in the power and potential of strong, effective and well-resourced civil society organisations rooted in, and accountable to, their own societies. These organisations will be able to plan, strategise and prioritise their own resources in response to the challenges they identify in their evolving contexts. Their approach to partnerships is designed to support local organisations primarily, and thus has the following key elements.
Investing through flexible funding. They believe in investing in local organisations, and in the importance of providing flexible funding to help them grow and develop, test their own ideas, and respond to needs as they identify them. Many of their grants will be in the form of flexible funding (with their partners identifying what support they need) and those partners will be those they believe have the potential to contribute to real change.
Long-term funding. Sustained support allows organisations to plan, to grow sustainably, and to have the confidence to test new ideas and approaches. Their typical partnership will therefore be for three years.
Capacity development. All organisations and individuals have the potential to grow, and they wish to support this. They will earmark around one-quarter of each grant that they provide for capacity development. They will identify needs jointly with their partners. Capacity development may take a variety of forms, including organisational development or supporting professional development of individuals within organisations.
Investing in new ideas and approaches. They are interested in supporting organisations and approaches that try to do things differently – such projects can be an invaluable source of learning. They will set aside around 10% of their programme budget to support innovative ideas and approaches.
Non-grant support. They will provide support that goes beyond the grant. This will be tailored to each individual partner, but they anticipate that it will include advice and support in networking and capacity building. They are keen to utilise the experience of previous partners, including the alumni of their ast scholarship programmes; they will explore ways to draw more on these resources.
Supporting research. They believe that issues impacting the development of the region require thoughtful, in-depth analysis, and that this should be widely shared to help the general public better understand the situation, inform civil society, and encourage policymakers to take properly informed action. They will therefore at times support or commission particular research they think will increase understanding of an issue.
Diversity. They believe societies are stronger when everyone is equally involved – and that equal involvement is a fundamental right. They will therefore encourage their partners to pay attention to diversity and to ensure that minority, gender and disability issues are thought about and addressed in their work, and give priority to organisations that encourage community cohesion.
Convening. Their past partners have appreciated projects in which they convened associates old and new; they will therefore at times link their partners and alumni, bringing them together around Asfari themes to share learning and think of joint projects. They will do this through supporting specific convening projects or organisations, or occasionally convene partners ourselves.
Their work is delivered through two main programmes, the Civil Society Programme and the Youth Empowerment Programme. See more