CARE has told itself the story that it is failing in knowledge management, and while there are aspects of our systems that are clearly dysfunctional[1], in different parts of the organization we are already seeing KML successes, often in close collaboration with partners from academia, Government and civil society. We need to draw on these examples of effective work, to improve our KML practice more systematically across the organization.

But there is no one-fits-all KML model to apply: KML serves multiple purposes – facilitating the learning of others, influencing broader social change, strengthening our staff and partner capacity, adapting to changes in the context, or mobilizing resources and partnerships - and so effective Knowledge Management & and Learning looks different, depending on what we are ultimately trying to achieve, as these examples show:

Facilitating the learning of others: Enabling learning between marginalized communities and groups, so effective approaches can be adapted and expanded far beyond where CARE and partners are working:
  • A key strategy for sustainability and empowerment involves this type of “Social learning”, as in the example of communities learning and mobilizing for themselves in Bangladesh in Annex B, or the Learning and Practice Alliances (LPAs) on water smart agriculture in East Africa.
  • Learning partnerships with other organizations, such as the MasterCard Foundation Savings Learning Partnership.
  • Supporting other organization to scale up proven approaches, through setting up social enterprises aiming at scaling Community Score Cards (CSC Consulting), or CARE’s Gender Equity and Diversity training (Inclusion Solutions), or providing detailed implementation guidance on tools (such as the Farmer Field & Business School toolkit).

Influencing broader social change: Feeding knowledge and learning into advocacy on the policies, programs and actions of Government, the private sector, donors or other power-holders:
  • Influencing international development thinking, for example through generating evidence on the impact of women’s empowerment on nutrition outcomes in Bangladesh, or on the effects of community score cards on reproductive health-related outcomes in Malawi.
  • Using our evidence and learning to influence global or regional policy and actions, such as on women’s economic empowerment in the Syria crisis, or global climate change negotiations.
  • Influencing national policy and practice, such as bringing research, policy and programmatic evidence on masculinities and GBV in Sri Lanka to influence the actions of Government, UN agencies, private sector and academia, or using evidence from CARE and partners’ nutrition programmes in Peru to influence Government priorities, budgeting, and programmes.
  • Influencing state-level action, by piloting together with Government the innovative use of technology or team-based incentives for frontline-health providers in Bihar (India), to ensure future scale up and roll-out.
  • In the Strengthening the Dairy Value Chain project in Bangladesh, having an online data platform that tracked milk sales, extension services, and profits in real time meant that BRAC scaled from using CARE’s producers as 2% of their supply chain to 55%.

Strengthening our staff and partner capacity: Ensuring our best approaches and most important institutional knowledge are available to, and applied and adapted by CARE and partner staff, across more of our work:
  • Building staff capacity, through training programs and manuals, such as the CARE Emergency Group’s CHEOPS and ELMP training, and Emergency Toolkit.
  • Ensuring new and existing staff understand CARE’s approaches, priorities and top learnings, through wikis (gender, or governance, or health), guidance notes (resilience), and orientation materials for staff (on gender, or resources for the Program Strategy, or the knowledge map on Food & Nutrition Security).
  • Identifying and sharing promising practices and inspiring results, such as the Food & Nutrition Security Team’s 5 mins of inspiration series, highlighting exciting results and key learning, from evaluations and studies.
  • Improving our organizational capacity in specific thematic areas, through webinars, communities of practice or learning events (e.g. on gender, governance, climate-resilient agriculture, or nutrition).
  • Incentivizing the scale up of innovations and promising practices, such as CARE USA’s Scale X Design Accelerator program.
  • Focusing learning and influencing on a specific theme in a sub-region, to multiply our impact, through the Impact Growth Strategies.

Adapting to changes in the context: Leveraging knowledge for dynamic program design, adjusting program strategies and plans based on emerging lessons:
  • Learning together with others about what works, and what doesn’t, and using that knowledge to adapt our program plans, as in these Collaborate Learn Adapt (CLA) case studies on CARE’s work with partners in Africa, Bangladesh, Malawi, and Niger.
  • Testing the Theories of Change, and the hypotheses behind these, in our Program strategies (see Part IV of the Women’s Empowerment Impact Measurement Initiative guide).

Mobilizing resources and partnerships: Strengthening CARE's reputation amongst key stakeholders, donors and partners, to improve resource mobilization and shape future partnerships:
  • Building and strengthening our reputation on a critical issue, through websites (CARE Climate Change, CARE UK’s Insight series) or journal articles/publications (on health, or value chains).
  • Demonstrating thought leadership, through sharing our learning in key events and conferences (such as around participatory scenario planning on climate change, or our work promoting family planning)
  • Ensuring the evidence and learning from successful programs are documented in Past Performance Reference (PPRs), to be used in funding proposals, to demonstrate our organizational capacity.




[1]In particular, CARE’s multiple platforms for information storage (Minerva, The Village, other CMP systems, wikis, etc.), often requiring different passwords.