Hivos International

Co-create a new strategy for Digital Defenders Partnership 2020-2023

Terms of Reference
(Send questions or Statements of Interest to before 29 December 2017.)


The Digital Defenders Partnership (DDP) started late 2012 by the Freedom Online Coalition to keep the internet open and free from emerging threats, specifically in internet repressive and transitional environments. The programme provides emergency support (grants and advice) for the internet’s critical users; bloggers, cyber activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and other activists, and builds capacity of the emergency response field by coordinating rapid responders’ networks and investing in long-term organizational security through fellowships. The DDP is currently funded by 8 donors (US state DRL department, ministries of foreign affairs of the Netherlands, Finland, Canada, Estonia, Latvia, Czech Republic and Sweden - SIDA). DDP is a neutral and independent entity from its donor countries, managed by HIVOS.

Assignment: Co-create a new Strategy for DDP 2020-2023

In a rapidly changing online environment, the Digital Defenders Partnership wants to stay relevant and ahead of the curve.  We are looking for a creative think-tank/strategy development bureau to deliver creative input and co-create the new 2020-2023 Strategy with us and relevant stakeholders.

Main objective of this assignment

Despite many positive results since 2012, critical internet users in different parts of the world are continuously under attack, and the urgency for a programme like DDP remains. In the past 6 six years Internet penetration has increased across the world but so did the efforts of governments and companies to filter, censor and control information and expression online. Awareness about online safety and security has increased but so did online harassment and surveillance and although there is more expertise and tools available to respond to online threats, the fragmentation of emergency responders, and the limited capacity of organizations and individuals under treat to holistically and sustainable mitigate effects of emergencies ask for multifaceted coordination interventions.

How does this influence the strategic choices of Digital Defenders Partnership in the future? We are open to reposition the DDP if needed. There are multiple learnings / recommendations available in our Mid Term Evaluation of the DDP and there are stakeholders (known or unknown to us) with specific ideas, and global trends or developments beyond our radar that might influence our strategy.

Important elements in the design of a new DDP strategy:

  • In co-creation with current DDP stakeholders (activists, networks, donors, strategic partners). Within our program we have experience in co-creating program elements with diverse stakeholders; it creates trust, buy-inn and commitment among all involved
  • Innovative; consulted with people outside the current DDP network to think out-of-our own box
  • Not a ‘western’ or ‘centralized’ strategy design process (meaning we at Global Office would design something from our perspective only)
  • Connection to HIVOS strategy and Freedom of Expression in specific
  • A stepped approach; we have a vision for a total design process until delivery of creative visuals of an actual strategy, but we will take this process step by step

To share this new strategy with our donors, beneficiaries and stakeholders we are looking for both a creative strategizing process and a creative visualization/articulation of the strategy.

We are preferably looking for a creative think tank/strategy design bureau based in Latin America / Post Soviet region / Asia / or Eastern Africa (the areas where we work mostly at the moment). We will sign contracts per phase identified below. We might sign contracts with one bureau for all 3 assignment phases, but want to leave the possibility open to redesign phases / contract other skills if needed.

Sub-objectives / phases of this assignment:

Phase 1: Assessing / research (Jan – April 2018)

  • Assessing the DDP mid-term evaluation; what are the most important learnings and recommendations from an outside perspective for the creation of a new DDP strategy?
  • What global trends and developments should be taken into consideration to create the new DDP strategy and in what way?
  • Reflecting: what should we research further to create the new DDP strategy?
  • Mapping: what stakeholders should we approach/interact with to co-create the new DDP strategy? How should we relate to Hivos regional offices?
  • Next steps: what creative process can help us in co-creating of the new DDP strategy? What elements does it entail and how does a possible planning and budget look like for the next Phase? What should we discuss with current DDP donors/stakeholders at this point?
  • DDP has an annual donor meeting (an important stakeholder group). This meeting will take place at RightsCon 2018 in Toronto. We want to use this opportunity to discuss outcomes of Phase 1 with them.

Phase 2: Creative Co-creation (May-Sept 2018)

  • Deciding on the process: the assignment team together with DDP decides on the co-creation process as suggested under Phase 1 next steps and after input of current DDP donors/other stakeholders.
  • Facilitating: the creative co-creation process
  • Gathering: all input of the different elements of the co-creation process and compiling them in one report / draft strategy text

Phase 3: Programme / Strategy Design (Oct-Nov 2018)

  • Creating: further co-creating the DDP strategy; DDPs approach, target group, activities, ways of working (like M&E), objectives, strategic partners, intended impact, connections to existing networks and movements (like the feminists movement), advisory board? Communication and outreach strategy, website
  • Visualizing: delivering visualizations that support DDP strategy (which can be used for outreach/fundraising)

Deliverables, Services and Milestones

The skills that we are looking for;

  • Critical, creative thinkers
  • Visual / design deliverables
  • Affinity / experience with the digital safety and security /internet freedom/emergency response for human rights defenders scenes
  • Affinity / experience with human rights
  • Affinity / experience with gender equality, feminists movements
  • trusted (being able to work with confidential partners)

As mentioned we will sign a contract per Phase with a bureau. We would need a more detailed budget and work plan for each phase before signing the actual contract.


Dec 2017: tender process for this assignment

  • ToR sent to (at least 2) potential teams
  • 29 Dec 2017: final date for teams to respond with a SoI
  • 1-5 Jan 2018: review of SoIs by DDP
  • 5 Jan 2018: final date for approval of team for this assignment
  • Jan: bureau to present more detailed work plan and budget for phase 1

    Jan 2018: DDP to sign a contract with the team for Phase 1

    Jan – April 2018: Phase 1 Research

    May – Sept 2018: Phase 2 Co-creation

    Oct - Nov 2018: Phase 3 Design

    End 2018: Freedom Online Conference (tbd. Date and place Oct/Nov/Dec 2018): presenting the DDP new Strategy to current DDP donors

    2019: fundraising with the new DDP strategy

    2020: start the implementation of the new strategy

Statement of Interest

We are looking for the following elements in the statement of interest;

  • Teams idea of how to approach this assignment (method/activities)
  • Track record/examples of team of similar/relevant processes
  • Examples of relevant designs/visuals
  • Would your team be able to take on all phases or which ones in specific?
  • Draft budget
  • A total of 2-4 pages

Prices and payment scheme

The draft budget that the teams presents in their Statement of Interest should include all costs, like travel costs for brainstorms, TAX, etc. Actual payment(s) will be done based on approval of deliverables as stated above in the phases. A first invoice can be send after signing the contract, a second after completion of a phase.

For background information see ANNEX 1. in the pdf version of the terms of reference (documents box, right sidebar)

More information about the DDP is aalso vailable upon request. You can send your questions or Statements of Interest (SOI) to the DDP team: before 29 December 2017.