Our approach and values

As a funding organisation, our approach is rooted in partnerships.


As the world’s largest philanthropy that focuses specifically on improving children’s lives, we support bold ideas for children to survive and thrive, today and in the future. This means we strive to be politically savvy and invest in changing the politics and discourse surrounding our issues, including supporting greater agency for young people.


As a private philanthropy focused on systemic change, we want to be in the vanguard of ambitious action for children. We can take on tough problems that others cannot, and we can invest for the long term. Our portfolio is regularly rebalanced away from interventions that seek to optimise the status quo, towards investments with transformative potential.


By addressing the causes of problems, we are more likely to solve them for good. We seek integrated solutions that follow children along the life course.


We strive to be nimble and take risks where the potential pay-off is big. We are not afraid to ‘fail fast’, learn and try something new.


Development aid will never be enough to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals. We believe the citizens and leaders of low and middle-income countries are best placed to shape their own futures.


Action today is worth more than tomorrow, and everyone needs to take action. As an organisation committed to tackling climate change, we are taking the following three actions and encourage our grantees to do something comparable, or better.

1. Footprinting: CIFF follows the principles outlined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and the UK Government’s Guidelines on Greenhouse Gas reporting, in order to calculate our carbon footprint.

2. Reducing: Our greatest source of emissions by far are the flights we take to visit our projects around the world. While these emissions were reduced in 2020 as a result of travel restrictions during the pandemic, we are developing an action plan to ensure a sustainable reduction in our flight footprint and other emissions next year.

3. Offsetting: We offset our carbon.  However, this is not without moral and technical challenges.

Given the urgency of tackling climate change, and the high value associated with reducing emissions today versus tomorrow, we commit to:

    • Reducing our overall emissions inputs first (e.g. flying less)
    • Procuring the most immediate emission reductions on the market
    • Procuring credits in advance for the year ahead, based on an estimated projection
    • Only procuring emissions reductions that meet the highest sustainable development standards, are third party verified and, where possible, are regulatory-grade
    • Discounting the credits we procure at 1:1.08 so that we are making a net-positive contribution.

Consequently, we believe the best options are the following:

    • To buy and retire EUAs in this compliance period.  By taking EUAs out of the market, scarcity is created in the market, forcing emissions reductions elsewhere in the system within the compliance period (annually); and,
    • To buy and retire Gold Standard project offset credits that have been verified in the past, or will do so in the next five years.

In January 2020, CIFF procured the offsets required to account for the period July 2016 to June 2020, and for the period July 2020 to June 2021 based on our estimated carbon emissions.

Please see our Carbon Footprint Appraisal Report here, conducted by Carbon Footprint.


As one of the world’s big philanthropies, we have the responsibility to build a thriving ecosystem of partners consistent with our localisation strategy. We pro-actively seek out and invest in emerging and established leadership, in line with our strategic and geographic priorities. We also invest in our talented staff by encouraging employees to be change agents and thought leaders in their own right.


As part of our commercial DNA, we will always be clear about how we intend to manage performance and we expect our partners to do the same. We always seek to clarify and align incentives (political, financial and intrinsic) to increase the probability of success.


Our approach to evidence is evolving to match our entrepreneurial spirit. We are committed to using and generating data and evidence, but we are also always looking to increase our emphasis on monitoring and operational research in order to generate actionable information faster.


We believe that supporting young people’s leadership, rights and perspectives must be at the core of the design, delivery and evaluation of any investment that seeks to meet youth needs in any setting. Our five principles for youth engagement are:

  1. Young people will be respected, valued and supported to contribute to decision-making processes within the foundation, with opportunities for partnership with adults and support for the development of their capacities to participate meaningfully.
  2. We will consider supporting youth-led work, in investments that allow for meaningful youth engagement, with sufficient and timely resources to:
    • Build a robust youth civil society movement to catalyse efficient and effective delivery of adolescent-centred investments.
    • Enable meaningful participation of young people to influence a change in laws, policies, development programmes affecting their communities.
    • Facilitate continuous consultation amongst adolescent and youth groups to determine priorities for advocacy and community mobilisation.
  3. The foundation will provide for the professional development of young members of staff, through affording diverse opportunities for advancement within the organisation and facilitating access to training opportunities.
  4. We commit to adopting and implementing meaningful youth engagement principles and practices across the Foundation.
  5. We will engage in continual learning and review to improve our commitment to meaningful youth engagement.

‘Young people’, ‘youth’ and ‘young members’ used interchangeably to denote the age-range (10 – 30 years) encompassing adolescents (10-19 years) and youth policy definitions of youth in CIFF’s focus countries (ranging from 15-30 years).