A New Take on Tax Reform

The Situation

In early 2019, the International Budget Partnership (IBP) formed a new internal team to focus on promoting more equitable taxation in developing countries through support to civil society groups. This work isn’t yet very widespread globally, so as a leader and innovator in the field, IBP took this on as a way to lead forward. Some initial meetings were conducted at the end of 2019 and in 2020 new resources were made available to assess the state of the field. IBP wanted to know about cases of successful civil society involvement in tax reforms across the world. They therefore commissioned case studies to be conducted in eight (8) countries. Each case study would be focused on a campaign promoted by a civil society organization.

In May 2020, the drafts of the case studies were completed, and it was time to come together for a 3-day in-person gathering to synthesize the findings. There was one big problem – coming together physically was no longer possible due to COVID-19. To continue the important progress already made with this work, IBP worked closely with GLP to create a series of convenings to span two weeks where findings could be shared, and important dialogue could occur. The results were fantastic.

It is important to note that the end use of these case studies will be a published book. All this work and dialogue will feed into this important end product for IBP and the Tax field. This will be the first book of its kind for the organization and presents an important opportunity for IBP to establish itself in the tax world.

The Journey

GLP was invited to support the IBP Tax Team to design five (5) Zoom convenings for the participants involved in conducting eight (8) case studies for a book to be offered by IBP. The convenings consisted of three phases – pre-, during, and post-meeting – and were intentionally designed to work together as one seamless experience.

PRE-CONVENINGSome elements that led to the success of this work include:

  • Self-guided PowerPoint presentation. To help replicate the feeling of an in-person convening, we created a simple PowerPoint presentation that resembled an app-like experience. Learners clicked through the screens, ‘met’ their colleagues and collaborators, and clearly experienced how this meeting will be different.
  • Notetaking handout. All readers used this handout to capture their notes as they read the drafted case studies, which were used to guide their dialogue during the meeting and were emailed to IBP after for further consideration.
  • Tips for authors. It was critical that case study authors use most of their time in the meetings listening. Since we knew this would feel different from their expectations – usually they were asked to present – a tip sheet was offered to help prepare them to silently (and gratefully) receive input and ideas.

DURING CONVENINGS The meetings were hugely appreciated and of value for the following reasons:

  • Everyone came prepared. Pre-meeting emails, phone calls, documents and support helped ensure participants in the meetings were well-prepared and well-informed. This ensured important dialogue and helpful input was offered.
  • All voices were invited in. We designed an engaging meeting that invited everyone to share in a purposeful dialogue, meaningful activities, and personal closing.
  • The goal was to receive input and ideas. The ultimate goal was to strengthen the case studies, so the final publication offered a valuable contribution to the world of tax. As such, input was needed and invited throughout the meetings and processed in a variety of ways.

POST-CONVENING The follow up work, which can easily be forgotten was intentionally named and carried forward by:

  • All written feedback was collected and analyzed.
  • A survey was sent to learn how to strengthen future processes and convenings.
  • Deep appreciation was shared.

The Impact and Goals

As a result of these convenings, the following was achieved…

For the case study authors:

  • Received the rich comments, input and suggestions to consider as they finalized the chapters of the book
  • Generated cross-case findings and ways to synthesize the insights found in the case studies.

For IBP partners, the following was experienced:

  • a sense of ownership of the work and publication
  • gratitude for being invited into the conversation and valued in them
  • inspired as they consider new possibilities and opportunities in their own country contexts
  • excitement as their network was enriched and enlarged
  • a feeling of pride in being part of this important tax initiative.

For IBP Tax Team:

  • strengthened in their skills and understanding of how to plan and facilitate meaningful and engaging virtual convenings
  • strengthened their commitment to invite partners into important work
  • strengthened their commitment to “learning” as a core organizational value
  • strengthened their commitment to core principles of adult learning and convening
  • recommitted to exploring innovative approaches to their work.

Thank you to International Budget Partnership, with Fariya Mohiuddin (as lead), Paolo de Renzio, and Jason Lakin, for inviting GLP into this important work.

Read here a full description of this IBP work.

Read here for a GLP blog about this project.

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