The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

Click on the location markers below to read posts from women's funds around the world.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Authentically global means both a global strategy and philosophy but also a local context

Being authentically global means that an organization has a strategy, staff and a philosophy and integrity that works globally but adapts to the local context and the needs and values in the communities it works in. 

Women Win is a young organisation, whose mission is to advance girls’ and women’s rights through the sport.  The ways in which we try to “walk the talk” of being authentically global:

1. Our ethos -- listening to girls, letting them lead us, inherently makes us they are a global group. We don't pretend to be the experts, we recognize GIRLS as the most important voice to listen to. We support 15.000 number of adolescent girls in programs in 20 countries.  

2. How we collect best practices and cross pollinate: Related to girls knowing the answers to their own problems....are the guidelines and tools we co-create with program partners.  Collaboratively authored in the field with 35 contributors, The International Guideline for Designing Sport Programmes for Girls, seeks to answer the question: How do we develop effective, sustainable sport programmes for girls and women?  We then created an open-source platform, that seeks the wisdom of others in the field, encourages the sharing of experiences and connects with the global community of activists dedicated to this work. 

3. How we work through strategic partnerships especially about mobilizing resources. We seek to help the traditional funder relationship evolve through forging partnerships...and helping our program partners do the same. We seek to build a global movement -- and using social media to do this.   For International Women’s Day 2011, Women Win released a video – Addressing Gender Based Violence Through Sport – highlighting learning’s gathered worldwide.
Cindy Coltman, Program Director
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Women's Funding Network member since 2007

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Alliances can produce synergies that benefit everyone involved

Fondo Alquimia has built alliances with various sectors of Chilean society. Our concept is that similar to people, organizations have causes in common with others that can produce synergies that benefit everybody that is involved. Last year, with the earthquake lived in Chile, people became conscious about the importance of  alliances, we all wanted to help and we looked for ways to coordinate this aid so that all places and different needs were met.

Our links are undoubtedly closer to the women's and feminist movement who is our place of belonging. We also have alliances with other organizations in the various social movements and trade union; we stand in solidarity with their demands and in turn summon them to support the demands of women.

We have dialogues with some universities, especially in relation to our experience in resource mobilization through our individual donors network 'Women Trusting Women', also for them to know about the work the grassroots organizations of the multiplicity of women activists working for women's human rights.

Some medium-sized enterprises which are sensitive to women’s cause collaborate with us giving in kind donations for our fundraising events. Similarly, other human rights and environmental NGOs call us to their events. We also have contacts with local governments that have progressive mayors who are interested in the advancement of women and their organizations.

As for religions as such, we are not related, however, we have conversations with women 'free thinkers' (masons) with whom we shared interests in positioning some issues related to equal rights of Chilean women. It is noteworthy that from march 2010, after the arrival of a right-wing government, has increased the interest in making alliances among organizations, including mainstream demands, which has meant a boom in people participation.

The actions undertaken with others have greater visibility and influence because they reach more people, have greater validity because there are several actors involved, and are more effective because they are complementary, leading to specialization of function. Undoubtedly, the sharing of common experiences enriches the knowledge of all participants and the value of solidarity is enlarged.

We cannot miss the risks, such as unlimited enthusiasm… So, it is advisable to establish partnerships with clear frameworks, i.e. we should be clear about  energies available, the way the alliance is inserted into the work plan and maintain identities clear as mission and values.

Sara Mandujano, Executive Coordinator
Santiago, Chile
Women's Funding Network member since 2002

The advantages and risks of building strategic partnerships

Right now, for the first time during its existence, the Women’s Fund in Georgia is in the process of hiring a full-time fundraiser for individual and corporate giving. In the end of January we conducted a number of interviews with shortlisted candidates who applied for the position. One of the best candidates emphasized the need to network with the Georgian Orthodox Christian Church – without doubt the most influential religious institution in the country – along with other institutions and agencies in order to improve the visibility of the fund and gain more supporters and stakeholders.

Since its establishment in 2005 Women’s Fund in Georgia has had tight links with women’s groups as well as various donor agencies inside and outside Georgia, including donor spaces like Women’s Funding Network, International Network of Women’s Funds and Grantmakers Without Borders. However, the level of networking and collaboration outside the donor and civil society sector has not been significant till now, not including several brief intersections. 

In December 2010, in the frames of the strategic planning process our team conducted a self-assessment survey with a specialized questionnaire that was sent to WFG’s stakeholders – grantees, applicants, supporters, women’s rights and human rights groups in Georgia. The analysis of the results showed us that the main recommendation of the fund’s stakeholders was to increase WFG’s visibility in order to make it more known and popular among the public.

This is very much connected to the current fundraising and PR aims of the fund since we have started a project for increasing the amount of local donors – both corporate and individual. In order to raise more funds locally WFG faces a need to be more visible, more popular and better at delivering its message to the society. Certainly, the question of networking (formal or informal) with various agencies and institutions outside the sector becomes important.

However, one has to be very careful in choosing allies. On the one hand, forming networks with powerful religious institutions can be beneficial because of the influence they have on the formation of people’s values and attitudes – if a women’s fund manages to influence their politics, it can also influence the public attitude towards women’s rights and philanthropy issues in a particular society. On the other hand, often, especially in such conservative countries as Georgia, religious institutions’ agendas go against women’s movements’ agenda and are oppressive and limiting towards women’s freedoms and human rights. This last point is especially relevant for Georgia, because even though, officially it is a secular state, the Georgian Orthodox Christian Church has an unquestioned power and authority, has major influence on politics, and is becoming increasingly fundamentalist.

Thus, despite the fact that Women’s Fund in Georgia acknowledges the importance of forming alliances outside the donor and women’s right sectors, it also acknowledges the risks associated with some of these potential alliances. The clearly feminist standpoint and the social change oriented vision of the fund do not allow us to collaborate with a fundamentalist religious institution that preaches sexism, homophobia and misogyny. Having said this, WFG is still open and searching for progressive religious leaders to start a constructive alliance.

Mariam Gagoshashvili, Program Coordinator
Women’s Fund in Georgia

Tblisi, Georgia
Women's Funding Network member since 2005

Networks expand our skills, knowledge and impact

HER Fund believes that our work can only be successful if it is fully integrated in the women’s movements. Therefore we place great importance to developing collegial as well as solidarity relationships within local, regional and international networks.

In Hong Kong, HER Fund supports and communicates closely with the local women’s rights advocacy network, the Women's Coalition for Equal Opportunities, also our fund is the fiscal sponsor of East Asian Women’s Forum. To closely follow the development of welfare trend and building exchange with ngos, HER Fund is an agency member of the Hong Kong Council of Social Services. We also network secondary girls’ schools in Hong Kong and each year, we conduct gender awareness raising talks and workshops at schools, reaching out to girls and discussing with them on issues such as beauty image, online relationships, women’s image in media, women and poverty, with a gender perspective. This network also encourages some girls’ groups to initiate small scale fundraising activities at school for HER Fund, like rose selling on the International Women’s Day.

Regionally, HER Fund is a member of the Asian Network of Women's Funds (ANWF), together with TEWA (Nepal), Nirnaya (India), and the MONES (Mongolia), Bangladesh Women’s Fund, The Women’s Foundation ( Hong kong ) and South Asian Women’s Fund. 

Internationally, the ANWF is part of the International Network of Women's Funds (INWF), and the Women’s Funding Network. We are part of the global community and the global women’s movements. Building partnerships, fostering close relationships with other  women’s funds and leveraging our relationships with the women’s funds’ network tell us that we are not alone, and more, that we are part of a group of dedicated women who are fighting for women’s rights all over the world. It opens the door for us to expand our skills, our knowledge and our strength in creating impact to advance the well being of women around the world.
Linda To, Executive Director
HER Fund
Hong Kong, SAR, China
Women's Funding Network member since 2004

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Sum is Bigger than its Parts

At The Women’s Foundation, our approach is to utilize existing expertise and resources within the community and to bring different partners together so that the sum is bigger than its parts.  Towards this end, TWF’s work greatly emphasises collaboration and inclusion.

An example of this approach is in our recent collaboration on a project called the T.E.E.N. (Talent Empowerment, Equality and Networking) Programme - a youth leadership program for girls and boys aged 13-16 from challenged backgrounds.  Partnered with two local NGOs, a government bureau, a corporate as well as a dedicated group of individual experts in community, youth, gender and leadership training, TWF serves as the intersecting point for these commercial and non-profit sectors.  

Click below to hear from some of the participants in their own words:

The Mentoring Programme for Women Leaders is also a good example where the ten corporate partners are all leading proponents of diversity and inclusion. The programme gives them an opportunity for sharing best practices in terms of recruiting, training, motivating and promoting female talent. TWF also leverages the expertise of supporting partners, like the Equal Opportunities Commission, Kellogg-Hong Kong University of Science Technology and Edelman, for help in understanding the local context, developing locally relevant content, and articulating the programme's scope and aspirations to the public. 

Hear from Desiree Au and Esther Tsang, mentors for the Mentoring Programme for Women Leaders.

Our collaboration with the media allows us to bring critical issues to a wider audience. In addition to participating in speaking engagements and media interviews, TWF has also launched two monthly columns on women and gender issues with leading dailies, the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Economic Journal website. The Women’s Foundation secures high caliber contributors for these columns from individuals with leading positions within the academic, corporate and government communities and assists with editing the pieces. It is gratifying to now be seen as a go-to point for comment by international titles like the International Herald Tribune and Newsweek, among others.

We are also about to embark on an ambitious research project to examine the status of women and girls in Hong Kong across 12 key areas including women’s political participation, women in the workplace, women and health, women and education, elderly women and girls.  The project will be a partnership between Goldman Sachs, the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and the Chinese University of Hong Kong to all work together for the common good. 

Here from Reginald Chua, Sophia Kao and Christine Fang, Women's Foundation stakeholders and supporters.

Integrating such a diverse array of organizations is an effective mode of executing programs because the involvement of the community from so many different sectors increases the chances of it being a long term project with a wider range of impact.  This collaboration is also a way for each organization to work outside of its own goals towards a larger ideal—building trust between corporate partners and non-profits, strengthening ties between citizens and its government, and more effectively being able to grapple a complex social problem by utilizing more resources.  It reminds our community that all sectors of society have a stake in the futures of our children.

The risk this interdependence poses is to balance the overlapping and sometimes contradictory interests of corporate, academic, government and non-profit organisations. However, what makes these collaborations successful is the firm conviction that we are all working towards the same goals. TWF has taken on the role of being a rallying voice for the different women's groups in Hong Kong, and the exciting thing is that we are now receiving multiple invitations to collaborate with other institutions on key initiatives. This is a real opportunity (and challenge!) to drive change in public opinion in the short run and public policy in the longer term, through collaborative efforts which ensure we truly capitalize on the opportunities we are creating.

Pui Yuk Ching, Associate Director
The Women's Foundation
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Women's Funding Network member since 2004

Collaboration raises the visibility of your work and builds up your reputation in the community

Since its founding, Tewa has always put diversity, non-hierchical working style, collective decision making, frugality and sustainability as not only as value statement but has put them in practice too. Tewa is a Philanthropic women organization and has fostered the Modern Philanthropy and successfully raised more than 20 million rupees for its grant making program through contribution of more than 300 Nepali individuals and institutional donors. Tewa commits to the empowerment and advancement of women through regular grant making to rural women group. Tewa aims to increase the self reliance of Nepali people by encouraging women and men to share their resources regularly for sustainable development and lasting peace. Tewa grant has opened doors for rural women to other opportunities, linkages and network and no doubt it has had a multiplier effect. As of now Tewa has awarded 375 grants worth more than 19 million rupees in 64 districts out of

Collaborative work:
Local Fundraising- As one of the core program, Tewa has been working closely in partnership with different institutions, private sectors such as banks, airlines, industries, schools, college etc. During our fundraising events organization has been supporting and contributing to Tewa regularly. Tewa also attempts to get support from corporations through its corporate Sector Campaign. The campaign aims to builds a sense of social responsibility amongst Nepali business people and raise funds for Tewa in the process. 

Good example: For 2 years Nepal's one of the best domestic airlines Yeti Airlines Pvt. Ltd supported Tewa by allocating Rs.1/- (One Rupee) from each ticket sold in all domestic sector. Like wise there are few private banks supporting in every fundraising events and inspires us to keep up the good work

Due to Tewa's transparent way of working style it is an asset to Tewa to work with all our profit making donors. Once a year we also organize an event where our local donors and grantee women can interact "face to face", this is how we are accountable to our donors. Every fiscal year donor name is mentioned in our annual report and at the same time we also mention the Grantee organization with the amount of grant provided for their different project of each grant cycle in the report. We involve our donors in different working committees of Tewa and also sometime invite them in our events to chair the program and request them to handover the grant to the rural women group. This way we will be able to involve our donors in Tewa's activities and increase the visibility too. Our track records show that the practice of philanthropic giving in Nepal can be a solution to many of our problems. We are also working closely with government sector to strengthen our grant making program in rural areas to monitor the grantee groups

Tewa always looks forward to work very closely with our donors and other organizations. Due to several organizations raising funds in local context it can risk our local fundraising effort. Since its inception as per Tewa's value we do not want to be involved in any Party Politics. While working with government sector we are very conscious in every step-In the present political context of Nepal it is very difficult due to transitional period. Decision would be delayed and as the party changes in the government it can take longer time to make them understand our work and get their trust.

Janaki Shah, Co-Coordinator
Kathmandu, Nepal
Women's Funding Network member since 2002

Linking grantees to other changemakers increases impact and influence

Background to the Women’s Fund for Scotland
The Women’s Fund for Scotland (WFS) is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls across Scotland.  Since its launch in 2002 the WFS has been funded directly from the Scottish Government through the Equalities Unit. Until recently this funding has been quite stable.

Working with the Government
We have been able to work well with the government in both delivering their objectives related to equality and ours. We have been very conscious however of gaps in this funding (no funding for younger women and girls) and the risks of working to the government’s agenda. We are also conscious of the risks of being dependent on one single source of funding for the majority of our work.

On the positive side this support has enabled us to award more than one million pounds in grants to over 500 very diverse projects, in the past 9 years. These grants have focused on supporting the development, self- sufficiency, and economic and social equality of Scotland’s women. In addition, we have been able to raise our profile across Scotland and promote the work of the groups that we support.

Multilevel Networking
Scotland is a small country (5 million people). Because of this size, we have access to and are able to meet informally with Members of the Scottish Parliament through a range of networking events. We are also able to interact with and inform local government about the wider issues affecting women in Scotland and what local groups that we fund are doing.  As a result of this networking, both local government and national governmental agencies have become more aware of how our support for community groups in their areas has improved people’s lives. This also means we have had input into how government policy has met or not met women’s needs.

Facilitation of networking and collaboration
In order to increase the capacity of the groups we fund, we offered our grantees the opportunity to participate in a networking day. This enabled them to explore each others work, make new contacts and form collaborations for future work. The feedback was very positive and for many smaller organisations it was their first chance to see what groups outside their immediate geographical area were doing. We are hoping to facilitate more such events in the future.  

In March 2009, we embarked on a proactive collaboration. We commissioned the Scottish Community Development Centre and Community Health Exchange to carry out research into how a range of governmental and charitable agencies work with the issue of teen-age pregnancy in the city of Dundee which has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe. This included investigating the determinants of teenage pregnancy such as self-esteem, confidence building and sexual health education. The research also looked at collaborative working between public sector agencies and voluntary sector organisations and the support for young people to influence strategies and activities that directly affect them. The report was distributed to all the agencies and groups in the area. The feedback was that facilitated networking and the resulting collaboration was very welcome. Again we are looking at other opportunities to engage in this role. The risk here is that we are seen as ‘outsiders’ and perhaps using our funding to promote a specific view, rather than act as facilitators.  

Pam Judson, Advisory Panel Member and Grants Panel Member
The Women’s Fund for Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland
Women's Funding Network member since 2004