RFQ- FY22 – 122 Research on Anti-Racism Colonialism and Sponsorship At Plan International

1. Background Information on Plan International

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.

We strive for a just world, working together with children, young people, our supporters and partners. We support children’s rights from birth until they reach adulthood and enable children to prepare for and respond to crises and adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at local, national and global levels using our reach, experience and knowledge.

For over 80 years we have been building powerful partnerships for children, and we are active in over 75 countries.

2. Background/Context

International child sponsorship typically involves the pairing of an individual, identifiable child, or young adult in a low- or middle-income country with an individual donor or sponsor in a high or middle-income country. Regular payments by sponsors, accompanied by the exchange of personal information, characterise a fundraising phenomenon which currently links sponsors to more than eight million children globally.[1]

Child sponsorship has been a foundation of Plan International’s work since it was formed in 1937 by British journalist John Langdon-Davies and refugee worker Eric Muggeridge in 1937.[2] The original aim was to provide food, accommodation and education to children whose lives had been disrupted by the Spanish Civil War. However, Langdon-Davies conceived what he called the “foster parent idea” where he reckoned that a British “foster parent” could support a Spanish child refugee in a well-run children’s colony for one shilling a day. Through letters, the “foster parent” would directly experience the meaning of his or her gift. This idea of a personal relationship between a child and a sponsor – a model that puts the child at the centre – has remained the core of what we do.

Plan International is currently engaged with 1.4 million sponsored children in 48 countries through sponsorship activities, communications and programmes. Plan International’s child sponsorship model takes a community-based approach, and particularly seeks to engage with children from marginalised communities. The approach aims to establish meaningful relationships with sponsored children and their families, and commit to long-term interventions in their communities. These two types of engagement – on an individual and on a community level – interact and are mutually beneficial for the children and their communities. Sponsored children’s individual development ripples out across the community as they become healthier, learn more and help to bring positive change. The tailored interventions enable the community as a whole to develop and, in turn, improve prospects for all children and their families. Characteristics of Plan International’s sponsorship approach include:

  1. One-to-one match between a child and a sponsor.
  2. Provides opportunity to take action for positive change.
  3. Continuity of funding, as opposed to a single donation.
  4. Provides development information to raise awareness and commitment towards positive change for children.
  5. Building relationships through the exchange of communications.
  6. Ensures Plan International’s work is connected to individual children and families.
  7. Enables accountability to all parties.

Benefits of child sponsorship

Child sponsorship is a development approach that is widely used in the international NGO sector. It is estimated that these sponsorship systems raise an estimated $3 billion each year to help some 9.1 million children and their communities.[3]

Whilst many sponsorship programmes started out with sponsors providing money directly to individual children, they have since evolved to work with entire communities by pooling the financial resources together for the betterment of the whole community. The one-to-one relationship between a sponsor and a child still remains which means the programmes often create an emotional bond as well as generating a stream of financial support.

There are numerous examples of where child sponsorship programmes have benefited communities. Some of the work the programmes do include building schools, providing educational materials, training pre-school teachers, and equipping community health workers. There are even examples of former sponsored children who have formed alumni groups to now help others.

Many projects are driven by the community and involve local voices, and most importantly, the voices of young people. Plan International also usually stays within a community for 10-15 years, therefore providing long-term support and ensuring the community are self-sustained before they exit and work in another community.

In 2019, Plan International carried out a study into child sponsorship.[4] It found that school attendance, birth registration and access to improved water and sanitation all improve the longer Plan International is working with a sponsored community.

Sponsorship, colonialism, racism, privilege and bias

Despite these significant advantages of sponsorship approaches, sponsorship models have increasingly been criticised for replicating colonial hierarchies. Criticisms include:[5]

· Sponsorship can be seen as a hierarchical or asymmetrical relationship between sponsor and sponsored child rather than a partnership/collaboration with mutual benefit.

· Sponsorship can reinforce power dynamics between the Global North and Global South.

· It has been criticised for feeding into age-old stereotypes which perpetuate racist and paternalistic thinking and white saviourism mentality. Sponsors might subconsciously think they have ‘adopted’ or ‘own’ the child.

The need for research

These criticisms mean that Plan International must reflect on its practices and will need to address how it becomes more inclusive and avoids replicating colonial power structures.

There are a few news and academic articles written on sponsorship, racism and colonialism but very little has been written on this by development organisations themselves. This is a new area of inquiry for Plan International and we are not aware of a similar study having been conducted in the sponsorship sector.

As Plan International is in a process of refreshing its Sponsorship operations and processes, this research is aimed at understanding and addressing issues of power, privilege and racism in the way in which we deliver our child sponsorship model.

3. Description & Objectives

The overall objective of the research is to contribute to improving sponsorship processes at Plan International and beyond to better account for power, privilege and bias and anti-racism principles. This includes ensuring that:

· Sponsorship programmes, processes and procedures are driven by anti-racist/ anti-colonial principles and practices.

· Sponsorship enables greater legitimacy and underscores Plan International’s approach to sponsorship as an impactful and inclusive way to promote anti-racism, anti-discrimination and diversity and puts the sponsored children at the centre of our work.

Specific objectives of the research include:

· To collate and analyse the criticisms against sponsorship approaches from an anti-racism and anti-colonialism point of view, specifically in relation to Plan International’s child sponsorship model.

· To assess our sponsorship model and approaches against power, privilege and anti-discrimination principles.

· To develop concrete recommendations for improving sponsorship models and approaches so that they are anti-racist and do not reinforce hierarchical power relations.

This research is going to be conducted in two phases, phase one will focus on a literature review and analysis as well as the development of research methodology and tools. The second phase of the research will focus on data collection, analysis, and the delivery of the research findings (from both phase one and two) together with a set of recommendations.

Research Questions

Closely related to the objectives outlined above, the research will explore the following research questions in both phases of the research:

· What is the relationship between colonialism and sponsorship? What are the historical roots of sponsorship approaches and how has sponsorship evolved over time?

· What are the criticisms against sponsorship approaches from an ant-racism and anti-colonialism point of view?

· How do Plan International’s sponsorship approaches relate to power, privilege and anti-discrimination principles? Are there any racist biases in our approach to sponsorship? How do colleagues from different offices perceive this?

· Are there examples of where our sponsorship work challenges or reinforces negative power hierarchies?

· What learning and recommendations can we draw from the research to better address racism, power, privilege and bias in our sponsorship work and processes?


The research will be used by the following stakeholders:

· Plan International Country Office staff working on sponsorship.

· Plan International Regional Office, Global Hub and National Office staff working on sponsorship.

· External audience, peer organisations and other partners using sponsorship approaches.

Methods for Phase 1 of Research

The first phase for this research and the scope for this Terms of Reference refers to a thorough literature review on the related topics and the development of cross methods data collection tools and analytical framework for the research. The outcomes of the research will ultimately feed into a Sponsorship end-to-end process review. The recommended approach for the development of the Research methods are:

Literature Review

A short literature review into this topic has already been conducted but a more rigorous review of grey and academic literature would be helpful to better understand the historical roots of sponsorship models, criticisms of sponsorship on the basis of power, privilege and race and how to address power, racism and bias in sponsorship approaches.

Development of methods and tools for primary data collection phase 2

Based on the findings of the literature review the consultant is expected to develop primary data collection methodology and tools for the following:

A. Key informant interviews with sponsorship staff at Plan International and from partner organisations and sponsorship development academics.

B. Participatory tools for Interviews and Focus Group Discussions with sponsored and former sponsored children and their parents and sponsors.

The consultancy will need to develop the tools taking into account different age groups, with special care to children under 18 as they form the group of sponsored children. The suggested age cohorts include 10-14, 15-18 and sponsored alumni of 18-24 years old.

The data collection will take place in the Country Offices and National Offices where Plan International currently has Sponsorship operations. Such countries will be defined at a later stage based on availability and capacity to manage the field work when time for data collection comes.

The consultancy will need to develop an approach for the literature review and the instruments for data collection as proposed above in this section. The consultant will also need to align the tools and literature review with the context of Sponsorship within Plan International and propose and analytical framework to the respective tools that have been developed.


The sampling approach will be defined at a later stage once the locations are defined and it is not the scope of this consultancy.

Ethics and Child Protection

The research will adhere to Plan Internationals’ MERL policy and framework for ethical MER. We will seek ethics approval from Plan International’s Ethics Review Team (ERT).

The consultants will need to abide to the Safeguarding policy as well, and, within the scope of this ToR, carefully design the instruments considering this is a very sensitive topic. Questions of surveys, interviews and focal groups shall be framed in a non-invasive way and that the confidentiality and data safety will be kept once we reach the data collection stage.

Key Deliverables

The key deliverables for phase one of the research are:

· Complete (edited, proofread and referenced) Literature Review related to the objective of this Research

· Full Methodology for the research

Data Collection instruments based on Research Methodology.

4. Location

The consultant will be home-based with online meetings with Plan International staff.


Week of 9th May: Evaluation of proposals & Supplier/Consultant interviews

Week of 16: Contract finalisation

Week of 23rd May to 24th June 2022: Undertake review. 24th June- All the deliverables are due. One round of feedback needs to be built into the delivery schedule so that all products are available by 24th June 2022.

5. Expected qualifications of Consultant

Thematic / Sectoral:

· Experience working in the international development sector, with an understanding of child sponsorship models being beneficial

· Experience of working on projects involving anti-racism, power, privilege and bias principles and considerations in the international development sector

Experience in conducting qualitative research


· Experience with conducting literature reviews (and access to academic databases)

· Strong understanding of safeguarding and research ethics

· Experience in designing data collection tools with a particular focus on children and young people in low-and-middle-income countries

Experience with qualitative data analysis, incl. coding and report writing


Fluent in English

6. Contact

Any questions in relation to this RFQ as well as submission of proposals please send to:


7. List of documents to be submitted with the RFQ

Technical Proposal

  • Detailed response to the RFQ/ ToR
  • Ethics and child safeguarding approaches, including any identified risks and associated mitigation strategies
  • Proposed timelines
  • CVs or company profile including contact details
  • Example of previous work

All consultants/applicant are required to agree and adhere to Plan International’s Non-Staff Code of Conduct (Annex A)

All suppliers are required to complete Supplier Questionnaire (Annex B)

Financial Proposal

Plan follow a fair and transparent Procurement process and therefore it is not possible to share our budget. Please provide a detailed breakdown of your daily rate and the number of days and resources required per activity, as well as the associated cost. We anticipate that the consultancy will be no more than 30 days within the timelines above.

Please include all additional costs Plan should be aware of.

  1. Submission of offers

Please send your application to Plan International procurement@plan-international.org by 6th May 2022 referencing “RFQ- FY22 – 122 Research on Anti-Racism Colonialism and Sponsorship” in the subject line and including supporting documents as outlined in section 7.

9. Evaluation of offers

Ø Shortlisted suppliers may be invited to discuss their proposals in more detail at Plan’s discretion. Interviews are likely to take place during the week commencing 9th May 2022.

Ø Plan International, at its sole discretion, will select the successful RFQ.

Ø Plan international shall be free to:

· accept the whole, or part only, of any submission

· Accept none of the proposals

· Republish this Request for Quotations

Ø Plan International reserves the right to keep confidential the circumstances that have been considered for the selection of offers.

Ø Part of the evaluation process may include a presentation from the supplier.

Ø Value for money is very important to Plan International, as every additional £ saved is money that we can use on our humanitarian and development work throughout the world.

Ø Plan International may award multiple contracts and all contracts will be non-exclusive. **

Women-owned businesses and companies actively engaged or advancing gender equality and women empowerment in the workplace are especially encouraged to apply.

10. Contract & Payment terms

Please note that, if successful, Plan International’s standard terms of payment are 30 days after the end of the month of receipt of invoice, or after acceptance of the Goods/Services/Works, if later.

11. IR35 Requirements – Only applicable for UK based or connections to the UK Consultants

As of April 2021, all Global Hub UK-based contractors (Consultant/personal service company/agency/intermediary) employing “people” in their chain to deliver serves to Plan International must follow a strict process of IR35 determination.

Plan Limited will conduct a CES tool on all relevant shortlisted proposers as outlined above to determine whether they fall inside or outside IR35.

12. Plan International’s Ethical & Environmental Statement

The supplier should establish environmental standards and good practices that follow the principles of ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems, and in particular to ensure compliance with environmental legislation

13. Clarifications

The onus is on the invited individual/companies to ensure that its offer is complete and meets Plan International’s requirements. Failure to comply may lead to the offer being rejected. Please therefore ensure that you read this document carefully and answer fully all questions asked.

If you have any queries in relation to your submission, or to any requirements of this RFQ, please email: procurement@plan-international.org **

Thank you for your proposal.

How to apply

Please send your application to Plan International procurement@plan-international.org by 6th May 2022 referencing “RFQ- FY22 – 122 Research on Anti-Racism Colonialism and Sponsorship” in the subject line and including supporting documents as outlined in section 7.