The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

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

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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trust, Dialogue, Tolerance and Solidarity – Get Networking!

When you get involved in engaged/activist/political theater at eighteen years of age you learn about the ideas and commitments of the feminist movement, and then many things begin changing for you on a personal level. You become part of a societal group which fights and strives for advancement and a change of life in a country, especially focused on women’s human rights.

My first encounter with the peace movement took place in 1991 on the Republic Square (Belgrade) when the brave Women in Black demanded that the state stop the wars on the territories of former Yugoslavia. That mute installation of women’s bodies dressed in black, in silence, had woken up a sense of revolt in me. In time I learned about the Women in Black network and about the strength of networking, communication, action and reaction. An especially important result of my learning about their work is the deconstruction of patriarchy, militarism, power and control. All of this breaks the matrix of behavior, conduct, development, maturating, of value systems. Women set new codes of conduct and of education, which of course is frightening to men.

During the nineties, and at the start out of 2000, Serbia was ripe with nationalism, in isolation, under sanctions, and this was a particularly difficult period for all people. Wars were taking place in the neighboring countries of ex-Yu, violence was escalating and many people lived day in and out in fear for their lives. At the Autonomous Women’s Center activists phoned day and night to women in Albania, Bosnia and Croatia – so that we would know how they were. Of course, people in our immediate surroundings, and even those closest to us, considered this an act of betrayal, but we were encouraged anyway that we were on the right path due to the strength of connecting with other women, solidarity and support. The right path being able to hear the Other. For me the essence of work and of development of a society is through a network of women who are fighting against violence, discrimination, all types of repression and terror, for a change in the value system, relations in society and for the freedom of movement and expression. 

If you live in a closed off and repressive society sometimes it seems that there are no borders outside of your country. The only borders and territories are the feminist spaces, where women understand one another. I met Marta Drury, a philanthropist, activist and friend in Labris, a lesbian rights group. The support which many women in Serbia, and neighboring countries, got from the Amazon Marta, showed me a new dimension of networking. At Marta’s invitation several activists from the ex-Yu had the opportunity to take part in the Creating Changes( )  conference. I was amazed by the number of people who attended this USA national conference. People were connecting and respecting each other with such passion, love and open communication. For me this was an eye opening experiencee – to meet queer, transsexual, intersex people, radical lesbians, all possible diversities - changes your frame of mind and your perception.

My greatest love is theater. The Magdalena Network is one of the largest women’s networks in contemporary theater. Ten years ago I went to Denmark for the first time for the Transit Festival. This was like magic: theater artist, actresses, masters all in one place. Theater techniques, shows, lectures and presentations were all exchanged and shared. There were 200 women from around the world: Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Russia, Czech Republic, Germany, USA, Mexico, Columbia, Africa, Europe… the whole world! The experiences I had there cemented my belief that the power of listening to each other, sharing and exchanging, development, changes, risks, dialogue, respect, trust, solidarity can bring us individually or as networks to new knowledge that on various sides of this globe there are women who are also fighting for a better future and a different world – a world without violence. That we are never really alone and can get support, encouragement and practical ideas from each other.   

Zoe Gudovic, PR Manager
Women's Funding Network member since 2005

Partnering with multiple stakeholders will increase support for your work and give you greater access to resources

At the WHEAT Women’s Fund, we engage with multiple stakeholders and development agencies, in order to ensure that our engagement and advocacy as civil society actors is holistic, cuts across diverse sectors and ultimately has a greater and lasting impact.

Our collaboration with government agencies in South Africa has mainly been with the local and provincial Departments of Social Development (DSD) and the Departments of Health (DOH). In the last few months, we have partnered together and held convening’s.

Representatives from these departments have come to our convening’s and formed an integral part of our information sharing sessions and peer-learning’s with grassroots women about their socio-economic rights, and what recourses and channels are available to women. In this way, WHEAT bridges the gaps and creates safe spaces where grassroots women can access local governance structures, which would otherwise be inaccessible. Also, government agencies offer accredited training opportunities and knowledge that is supporting our grassroots women-led community based organizations to establish and formalize. These include obtaining Non Profit Organization (NPO) status and being registered in their databases as recipients of information and funding opportunities. Lastly, the Government departments also have material resources and financial support that WHEAT can tap into.

The corporate sector has mainly functioned as our donor base, through their Corporate Social Investment (CSI) programmes. However, WHEAT is increasingly engaging with the corporates as partners in implementing strategic developmental plans and as consultants, due to our extensive networks and experience; as well as our credibility and access to grassroots women. Furthermore, WHEAT has identified a niche with the corporate sector in South Africa, which is currently male-dominated, where we are educating them on issues pertaining to human rights for women, as well as philanthropy for women’s funds.

Our partnership with schools and universities is mainly through our ‘girl talk’ convenings. WHEAT believes in an intergenerational approach to development. We therefore support women and girls in our work and have initiatives aimed at promoting leadership among girls between the ages of 14 and 19 years, in high school.Some students from the university are involved with us as volunteers and research associates. We are also affiliated with socio-economic departments and societies in the universities around us, mainly in the capacity of non profit sector education, especially on women’s funds, feminism and philanthropy.

The advantages of a multi-pronged developmental approach, with a variety of stakeholders, is that we leverage more support for our work and have greater access to a diversity of resources. Also, central to WHEAT is the ideology that we should not work in isolation, so collaboration results in a stronger civil society initiative.

The risks of collaborating with a myriad of developmental agencies is that they may be many areas of interest represented, and usually, the gendered and feminist debate can get swallowed in the greater socio-economic and political discourse. Our agenda is the women’s agenda, and in a patriarchal society, that is not always well received, especially in religious settings and spaces.

Nompilo Cindy Ndlovu, Programme Manager
Cape Town, South Africa
Member of Women's Funding Network since 2003

Networking with corporations and goverment agencies can expand funding sources

Nirnaya sees the need for networking with corporates and goverment agencies. The corporates are the movers and shakers for any political party to gain and retain power - run the government. They are also the critical elements in promoting the political will for advancing women's rights agenda. We involve individual women in positions of power within the government or corporate sector into our work as board, who in turn help in some collaborations. The risk in our involving with the government per se, is that we can sometimes be promoting initiatives that threaten the sustainability of women's empowerment and leave this collaboration to our grantees.

Impressed by our outreach to remotely placed grassroots women, after attending our formation day celebrations in 2006, the Hyderabad based General Manager - Corporates of State Bank of India, invited Nirnaya to apply for a loan of Rs.10,00,000 for onward lending to the community based women's groups she is linked to. The lending was to dalit and Muslim women in a district of Andhra Pradesh, covering 10 groupswith a celing of Rs.10,000 for one woman, the interest was borrower friendly and the success was such that the in the  next year the same women's groups were awarded loans to the tune of Rs1,00,000 by other banks in that district. Our grantee WNGO which works in the district was able to address a wide range of women's issues from then onwards.

Indira Jena, Executive Director
Hyderabad, India
Women's Funding Network member since 2002

Collaboration is important in order to establish credibility and raise more funds

Since its first day of establishment, the Bulgarian Fund for Women board and staff have evaluated as very important the collaboration with different country institutions in order for the Fund to receive popularity and credibility with its work and later on – raised opportunities for fundraising from local donors in the country.

Collaboration was executed by different means depending on the specific institution, as for example with:

The main common activities have recently been connected with the elaboration of the National Program against Domestic Violence. The President & CEO Stoila Bongalova was invited and took part in 3 meetings of the Working group set up by the Ministry of Interior with the task to elaborate the National Program for 2011 year. There were representatives of other Ministries and NGOs actively involved in actions and policies against domestic violence.

The Board Chair Stanimira Hadjimitova actively participates in the work of the National Council on Gender Equality to the Council of Ministries. Nevertheless the NGO representatives have a consultative status to this body, this is the only official structural instrument for influencing the State policy in the field.

BFW is a member of the Bulgarian Donors Forum where a special Club of Business Donors exists. This is a real space for meeting different decision makers in the field of business, where BFW can present the specific problems women and girls in the country face and thus argue for financial support of programs that are focusing on overcoming of such problems. Stanimira Hadjimitova is a member of the BDF Board and her position gives her additional options in favour of the Bulgarian women. For example, in April the BFW and the BDF will organize the first Conference “Women and Philanthropy”, where by promoting good donor practices Bulgarian women will be encouraged and motivated to participate in achieving socially important causes through voluntary work and expertise and financial support.

On the other side, during the years, BFW organized numerous events focused on business representatives trying to train and make them more sensitive towards the existing gender discrimination in practice.

BFW used its “Youth Program” to contact the Sofia University and its Faculty on Sociology in the year 2009, when both organizations held a survey among young people in 10 Bulgarian towns that BFW run the Program on the youth sensitivity about gender discrimination and presented the results at a national Round table discussion. 

Last but not least, BFW is using all modern means to reach its collaborators, like its Internet web site, the social network Facebook, and the Blog.

The only challenges are connected with the small staff number and the need of much more regular contacts with the different stakeholders.

Stanimira Hadjimitova, Board Chair
Sofia, Bulgaria
Women's Funding Network member since 2005

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

International means working together while retaining diversity

I, personally, prefer the term INTERNATIONAL rather than global. As defined by the Oxford dictionary global is: relating to the whole world; worldwide... And, for me, this term is not right in describing our work. INTERNATIONAL, for me, means: allowing us work together on achieving our one common goal, and yet retain our diversity. 
It is very important to feel yourself as a part of one bigger thing. Many NGOs in Mongolia are working on many different social issues, from offering social services to advocacy campaigns. They see there’s a problem and they work to address it, but they don’t see that they are an actors and builders of social change as a whole. And the unique role that women’s funds are playing is creating space for interaction and shared knowledge, and thus, building movement for social change. And not only in Mongolia, but also contributing to social change on international arena!! 
By being a member of international networks, we have learned many innovative ways to raise funds for women’s rights; to better strategize our grantmaking, so it doesn’t duplicate or overlap the areas already covered; to effectively evaluate our grantees and evaluate our own organization.
MONES is a member fund of Asian Network of Women's Funds, a regional network of 7 women’s funds, which is implementing a joint research project “Where is the Money for Women’s Political Participation in Asia”. And it taught us a lot on collaboration; communication, planning and scheduling, because of the own country contexts, and slightly different time zones. But these all also proved that doesn’t matter where each fund is located, as long as we have the dedication and are committed to work for one common goal – of achieving just and truly democratic society – we are, and will be able to overcome our preconditioned boundaries.
Working on women’s issues, and just any other issue that is challenging modern society; it is very important to have a space to share and learn from peers, both from inside and those that are located in different continents of the globe.
This inspires and makes us feel that we belong to a movement that is truly international. Meaning we understand each other; we are united under one goal, but we are each uniquely different, allowing us be in a “commonality” and yet keep our diversity.

Khandarmaa Zorig, Foreign Relations and Fundraising Programme Officer
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia  
Women's Funding Network member since 2004

Authentically global means common purpose and shared long-term goals

Based on the experience of the Urgent Action Funds for Women´s Human Rights, “authentically global”, at the very minimum, implies common purpose and shared long-term goals.  Our option for social transformation leading to peace, justice, and equality for all, and a clear decision to protect and promote the right of the diversity of women to participate in all aspects of citizenship and peace building at the local, national and international levels, is at the heart of our “globalness”. As three “sister” funds, the well-being of each is the concern of all. 

Although we are three independent and autonomous organizations belonging to the same sisterhood, we share essentially identical Missions, Visions, and Values. In other words, we are readily identifiable as the Urgent Action Funds both for what we stand for as well as our shared programming initiatives. We are authentically global in that we work in all countries of the Global South and East for the defense and promotion of women’s rights from offices in Bogotá, Colombia for women in the Americas; in Nairobi, Kenya for African women; and in Boulder, Colorado to meet the needs of women human rights defenders in other parts of the world.  

To program global does not imply we are absolutely and forever identical: in fact, to fulfill our mandate of responding to the needs of the diversity of grassroots activists and women human rights defenders, we incorporate contextual specificities that respond to their realities.  Being authentically global also implies we must be able to decipher and incorporate, with the participation of colleagues on the ground, the needs of women on many continents, in a multitude of countries. 

At the same time, to be “authentically global” means to step beyond shared philosophical concerns and political goals and to be committed to similar, if not completely identical, programming initiatives. In order to build synergy; strengthen women’s organizations through shared learning; and to develop effective advocacy strategies at the international level, programming initiatives involving similar themes and processes have been developed. Around the world, the Urgent Action Funds are known for Rapid Response Grant Making, and although our Categories and Criteria may vary slightly, our identity for this particular funding niche is unmistakable. Each of the Urgent Action Funds is also committed to involving partner participation in the implementation of Collaborative Initiatives including Research, Publications and Advocacy. In other words, we are also “authentically global” because we implement programs that can benefit a wide diversity of activists and women’s human rights organizations around the world. 

Operational concerns are also important; language capacity, for example, allows for global communication that ensures collaboration and cooperation. In the case of the UAF´s, the question of where offices should be located is not a determining factor; rather than one centralized office, regional offices have proven to be operationally and programmatically feasible. Collaborative rather than competitive fund-raising, as well as shared advocacy initiatives at the global level, are features of an authentically global organization or network- based on shared goals, programs and practice. 

Eleanor Douglas, Executive Director 
Urgent Action Fund of Latin America for Women´s Human Rights
Bogotá, Colombia
Women's Funding Network Member since 2010

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An authentically global organization works beyond its geographical, physical, individual borders, and is willing to think beyond its cultural border.

"An authentically global organization works beyond its geographical, physical, individual borders, and is willing to think beyond its cultural border. This global organization works in NETWORK.”
The organizations which work in networks of affinity or activity, they change immediately because they don't have just local objectives anymore, but local objectives linked to global collective action.

Uno de los factores más importantes de las REDES es su carácter multiplicador, su poder que irradia el ideal de la democracia propuesta por la sociedad actual, desde el cual se vuelve particularmente relevante en lo simbólico y para la difusión de una nueva utopía de la sociedad civil democrática.

A network should preserve the autonomy of groups, the communal character of these groups and necessarily to invest in organizational management of information exchange, communication and performance openly democratic, creating a free area where their members can restructure themselves in their individual and collective action .

Uma organização global, se articula globalmente, e a maneira de estar em vários países, tanto em percepção do contexto local, como em atuação, se dá por meio de redes. Integrando atores diversos, articulando o local e o global. Ou seja, é necessário que essa organização invista intensivamente em tecnologia da informação e se baseie na cooperação entre todas organizações que fazem parte da rede, sem que se perda a autonomia de nenhuma integrante.

The networking action is being proliferated by a multiplicity of factors: economic globalization, which changed the productive and administrative processes toward greater flexibility, integration and interdependence, the recent changes in the state and its relations with society, imposes new management models involving the interaction of decentralized structures and innovative forms of partnerships between state and organizations (social or not).

En el caso de América Latina, estos factores son concomitantes con el proceso de democratización, que modificó la estructura social, con la proliferación de muchas organizaciones sociales y el desarrollo de una nueva conciencia social de ciudadanía, reclamando una mayor participación en procesos de acción más globales, así como los obstáculos y fenómenos sociales que enfrentan.

A emergência de redes responde às necessidades e características do contexto atual, onde o poder apresenta-se como plural, diversificado, difuso, complexo.

The operating or action possibilities of a global organization is conditioned to developments in communications technology, allowing virtual interactions in real time. So we must consider that countries still have considerable inequalities among themselves for access to technology and information, for example. And these inequalities can not mean a hindered participation in the network.

Sobre comunicação é importante frisar que uma organização global, que trabalha em rede, invista em ferramentas e mecanismos que possibilitem a troca de informações independente do idioma das organizações que integram a rede. Definir um idioma como o idioma padrão na rede ou organização global não é uma solução eficaz, pois exclui a participação das ativistas e organizações que não dominam esse idioma. Isso é muito grave, porque o sucesso da atuação em rede consiste na qualidade da informação que ela fomenta e recolhe localmente e que depois distribui globalmente.

Por esse mesmo motivo é indispensável que uma organização global considere as diferenças e diversidade regionais, que se traduzem em complexidades socio-político-culturais, por exemplo: a região norte do continente americano tem particularidades distintas da região central, que por sua vez difere da região sul do continente. Uma organização global, ou pelo menos que queira atuar no continente americano, deve pensar em estabelecer uma sede no norte, no centro e no sul, garantindo assim um vinculo globalizado, um envolvimento, um comprometimento com as regiões onde atua, e assim, investindo em acessar as informações mais precisas sobre os contextos locais, com vista a sua ação global.

The maintenance of networks imposes challenges as: processes of negotiation and consensus building, establishment of rules of engagement, interaction and distribution of resources, building mechanisms and decision-making processes, priority setting and monitoring.

The ELAS has several experiences of networking. Among them we highlight the ConMujeres Network. A Consortium of Women's Funds in Latin America and Caribbean, an alliance of Funds, created to mobilize, distribute and increase financial resources for human rights of women and girls and, thereby, contributing to the development and strengthening of organizations and women's movement and their capacity.

The ConMujeres's objectives are: to multiply the impact of social investment in leadership and human rights of women and girls in the region; to contribute to the strengthening of women's and feminist movements in Latin America and the Caribbean; and to contribute to the greater visibility of organizations working for the rights of women and girls in the region.

El éxito de la iniciativa se debió a la ampliación de la fuerza para recaudación de fondos de los Fondos de Mujeres del ConMujeres, a continuación, en apoyo directo de decenas de organizaciones de muejers en 17 países de la Región, y el impacto generado por una acción coordinada en la Región.

Além do esperado, tivemos ainda outros êxitos no âmbito do ConMujeres: estimulamos a criação ou desenvolvimento e fortalecimento de outras redes; estimulamos o desenvolvimento de ações de transformação social ou de reivindicação de direitos mais coletivas, e também além das fronteiras geográficas locais, por parte dos grupos envolvidos, e ampliamos o conhecimento de todas as organizações envolvidas na rede sobre contextos políticos e sociais na Região de alcance da rede, o que necessariamente aprimora nossa ação de transformação social.

We (ConMujeres) invested in an exchange of information in both official languages of the Region (Spanish and Portuguese), and this experience was very rewarding for the members of this network.

The diversity or acceptance of others as different, plurality and the recognition of others as partners, coordinated and interdependent actions, conflict negotiation and the search for a common goal, requires a democratic culture and a structure of "power distribution."

K. K. Verdade, Program Manager
ELAS-Fundo de Investimento Social
Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Women's Funding Network Member Since 2004

Being authentically global is more than just having diverse members

Global network requires not only having the diverse membership. It requires having a very diverse staff with ability and knowledge to understand and reflect the needs of members from all different regions of the world.  The services need to be created and developed already with strong focus on differences and contexts of the global membership and not to be created with one continent/one region centric lens and being just replicated in other regions.  In all communication of the network which considers itself to be global there is a need of a very strong focus on use of language “understandable” globally. Last but not least the diversity of the membership needs to be reflected also in the governing bodies, advisory committees and other institutions of the network. 

Marketa Hronkova, Country Director
Prague, Czech Republic
Women's Funding Network member since 2004

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Recognize a Women-Led Organization Making a Difference in Your Community!

We are partnering with GreatNonprofits in the 2011 Women's Empowerment Campaign along with GuideStar, the National Council on Women's Organizations, the American Association of University Women, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the National Center for Lesbian Rights to recognize nonprofits working on women's issues and initiatives.

Go to the Women's Empowerment Campaign site and tell us about an organization making a difference in your life or your community.

What do the nominated organizations get in return?
  • Recognition: Every organization that gathers 10 or more positive reviews during the month of March will make the GreatNonprofits Top-Rated Women's Nonprofits List.
  • Community Engagement: This is a great opportunity for you to interact with and engage directly with an organization you admire!
  • First-person stories: This is an opportunity for you to share how an organization serves your community. Your first-person experience is a powerful and authentic resource that your chosen organization can use to engage new donors and volunteers!