Opinion & analysis

Potencia: Insights from three years of Partner Support in Latin America

Since 2020, Potencia has strengthened 55 organisations working to increase civic and political participation in Latin America

By Gabriela Hadid, Luminate and Silvia Morais, Synergos

Potencia, Luminate’s partner support programme in Latin America, celebrated its third anniversary in 2023. 

Through one-on-on consulting, group workshops, and peer exchange networks, Potencia works to support our partners in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. The bilingual programme creates spaces for connection and provides resources so that partners, in addition to focusing on their programmatic activities, can also build their organisational capacity to develop their teams, processes, and internal structures. 

Luminate’s Latin America and Partner Support teams collaborated, designed, and worked with Synergos, a global organisation that has pioneered the use of bridging leadership, to bring Potencia to life. What lessons have we learned throughout this time? 

Potencia by the numbers

Organisations supported:
Group workshops offered:
Hours of peer exchange workshops:
In-person meetings:
Hours of individual consulting:

Potencia identified four thematic areas are identified as priorities: Financial Resilience, People & Culture, Programmatic Impact, and Governance.

  • In the field of Financial Resilience, Potencia partners have had access to consulting that covered topics such as the review and development of fundraising strategies, relationship management and communication with donors, and integration between the areas of learning and fundraising. 
  • Under People & Culture, examples of partner projects include the creation of diversity and inclusion policies, compensation, and leadership transition plans.
  • The organisations that participated in Potencia with a focus on Programmatic Impact received support in the development and review of KPIs, creation of evaluation models and reports, and the development or review of their theories of change. 
  • In the area of Governance, they received advice on conflict mediation, decision-making, and relationship management with their boards, in addition to the creation and review of their governance models.

We learned how to better structure the organisation to form our Board of Directors. We’ve also learned that there are other forms of organisational structure that might be more effective for our needs,” a Colombian organisation told us.

Over the past three years of implementation, observation and active listening allowed us to evolve Potencia’s impact and collect lessons and reflections we consider valuable for our partner organisations and philanthropy:

  1. Flexibility and adaptation: Recognising that there is no single solution for all organisations, Potencia stands out for its diverse and broad offerings that provides options for different types and stages of organisations. The program’s flexibility means that every organisation can choose what best suits its needs, and that activities are flexible enough to adapt to various contexts, such as the pandemic, hybrid work, and challenging political situations.
  2. Impact: Contributing to the institutional strengthening of organisations notably enhances their work and projects. By providing both individual and collective spaces to strengthen financial resilience, governance, and the development of people and culture, organisations are given the necessary tools to amplify, optimize, and improve their programmatic work. Philanthropy should increasingly invest in this type of support as a strategy for strengthening and generating sustainability of civil society organisations.
  3. Trust and collaboration: Beyond the positive impact for organisations, providing non-financial support also strengthens the relationship of trust between the organisations involved, including Luminate. Specifically, collective training spaces let organisations share experiences, lessons learnt, and vulnerabilities, while exploring opportunities for collaboration at both national and regional levels.
  4. Strategic Partnerships: The strategic decision to rely on the support of an expert in an institutional strengthening, such as Synergos, was fundamental. This collaboration let us co-design all program activities together, as well as identify experts for individual consulting and closely monitor the processes derived from the program.
  5. Languages, representation, and cultural sensitivity: One of the program’s greatest points of success was having a team based in the four countries where Luminate operates, representing the populations of the region and sensitive to the local culture and context. Likewise, in both Potencia management and in consulting and events, we always offered Spanish and Portuguese interpretation, ensuring that partner organisations felt comfortable participating in their own language.

As the third edition of Potencia comes to an end, Luminate will conclude its collaboration with Synergos. We sincerely appreciate their invaluable contributions made over the years.

The wealth of experience gained lays the groundwork for the next phase: Potencia 2024, a collaborative effort with Imaginarius. This initiative will continue our commitment to support partners in Latin America, ensuring they have access to the tools needed to further their mission of transforming society.

Over the three years of the program, Potencia’s implementation was led by: Gabriela Hadid and Fernanda Zistecatl (Luminate’s Latin American team); Paula Chang and Laura Bacon (Luminate’s Partner Support team); and Alejandra Salamanca Rodríguez, Daniela Weiers, and Silvia Morais (Instituto Synergos).