Grantmaking Principles

In 2018, IWHC articulated our organizational values. One year later, we are hard at work to ensure that our grantmaking strategy aligns with these values. In this process we have asked ourselves how our grantmaking model builds and sustains feminist movements, and what principles we prioritize.

Build Trust

As feminist funders, we employ a trust-based grantmaking framework—based on a trust-based philanthropy model—which promotes flexible, long-term support to partners rooted in strong, mutually accountable relationships. We invest significant time in getting to know our grantee partners and building community with them. Importantly, we are also advocates, side by side with our partners in the trenches at the UN and elsewhere. As a fellow movement member and leader, we have direct insight into what our movements need to succeed, which makes us better funders to our partners.

We know that our partners are best positioned to determine local needs, priorities, and solutions, and that our role is to support them in that work, which we do in a variety of ways. The first is traditional financial support and the second is what The Whitman Institute (an originator of the concept of “trust-based philanthropy”) has dubbed “support beyond the check.”  Our support beyond the check provides our partners with the resources and skills to bolster both their individual organizations and the coalitions that they work in. This support is made possible due to the basis of trust that we’ve developed and is provided on request and tailored to the individual needs and priorities of our grantee partners.

Provide Flexible, Long-term General Operating Support

IWHC understands that for women’s movements to thrive, flexibility and sustained funding is required. That is why we commit to our grantee partners for the long-term and support strategies that strengthen women’s movements at the national, regional, and global levels.

More and more of our institutional grants provide general support, in which partners have full autonomy to decide how to allocate their funds. Our proposal renewal and reporting processes aim to foster dialogue and reflection to refine organizational and movement strategies, and we continually re-evaluate what we are asking of partners, recognizing how much of a burden donors can inadvertently cause.

We know that the path to progress is neither quick nor linear, so we provide our grantee partners with the funds and flexibility to drive change in their communities. From Argentina to Pakistan, we see the impact of our long-term partnerships.

Engage in Feminist Learning

We collaborate with our grantee partners on research and learning to advance feminist knowledge generation and explore critical and emerging sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, which informs the field and drives our advocacy. For example, we are currently engaged in a multi-year project with grantee partners in Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, and South Africa to document the impact of the Trump administration’s Global Gag Rule. This data provides evidence to strengthen our DC-based advocacy and provides our partners with the evidence needed to advocate with their governments.

Facilitate Opportunities

IWHC makes individual grants to activists to participate in international policy spaces to engage in advocacy, share collective learning, and participate in cross-movement building spaces. Our individual grants uniquely bridge the local and the global, bringing partners’ lived realities and expertise to human rights bodies and multilateral negotiations in order to influence policy and hold governments accountable to their commitments. Our Advocacy in Practice program invests in next-generation leadership by training young feminists to engage in regional and/or global advocacy. This individual support facilitates access to power and policymakers for feminists from the Global South, who are frequently left out of such spaces.

Prioritize Diversity

At IWHC, we acknowledge that there is more we can do to uphold the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our grantmaking. In many areas where we work, marginalized women—especially women of color, indigenous women, and women with disabilities—have been underrepresented in our grantmaking portfolio. Moving forward, we are working to center marginalized people and communities in our grantmaking and challenging ourselves to continually strive for a more diverse and inclusive grantmaking portfolio. We know that a strong movement is a diverse movement.

Taken together, these principles build the foundation of IWHC’s grantmaking model and work to strengthen the global feminist movement. At IWHC, we’ve consciously prioritized funding movements because we know that collective action is key to transformative change, yet is often overlooked by large funders. We understand that change requires multiple strategies over time and we place the trust in our grantee partners and their movements to identify and implement the strategies that are most effective in their context. Most importantly, we are committed to working hand-in-hand with our partners to enact change and strengthen the women’s movement at the national, regional, and global levels.

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