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  • The Advancing Human Rights blog brings the research on human rights grantmaking to life by connecting the numbers to context. Through our various series we aim to bring diverse perspectives to a range of topics and increase understanding of the human rights funding landscape.

    Interested in writing a post on a topic not covered here? Please contact Rachel Thomas, Director of Research Initiatives at Human Rights Funders Network, at

Showing 30 Blog Posts

Meeting the Moment: More and Better Funding for Human Rights

July 9, 2020

Author: Rachel Thomas

When we launched our research to map the human rights funding landscape in 2010, we wanted to both increase funding for the human rights field and help funders spend it more effectively. As the COVID-19 pandemic and sweeping protests against police brutality lay bare the systemic racism and inequality that persist in the United States and globally, we must consider our values and commitments as human rights funders and ask ourselves how we can step up in this moment. What does our most recent data on grantmaking in 2017 show us? Is human rights philanthropy providing more and better funding in support of transformative change?

“Situated in the Communities We Exist to Serve”

October 4, 2019

Author: Rachel Thomas

Human rights donors based in the Global South and East play a critical role, not only in their communities, but in the ways they inform the priorities and approaches of human rights philanthropy. While our Advancing Human Rights research has traditionally highlighted the largest human rights donors (by grant dollars awarded), our latest report also recognizes the top human rights funders based in the Global South and East. We asked foundations on that list to share their views on human rights funding. Here’s an excerpt of their insights.

Data in Dialogue People with Disabilities

December 3, 2018

Author: Rachel Thomas

"For decades, donors have told disability activists, 'We don’t do disability,' though people with disabilities are members of every gender, race, class, ethnicity, and religion."

- Juliet Mureriwa, Ford Foundation

Data in Dialogue Latin America

October 9, 2018

Author: Rachel Thomas

"Shifts from a few large donors can have significant ramifications."

- Artemisa Castro Félix, Action in Solidarity Fund

Data in Dialogue Migrants and Refugees

August 22, 2018

Author: Rachel Thomas

"With the Syrian refugee crisis and people fleeing violence and persecution from Central America, countries in the West have been forced to confront what people in other regions have endured for decades."

- Elyse Lightman Samuels, Unbound Philanthropy

Data in Dialogue Children and Youth

July 11, 2018

Author: Rachel Thomas

"While other groups are spotlighted in global human rights conversations, children’s issues are deemed more ‘charity than rights’ so are often completely ignored."

- Ghazal Keshavarzian, Elevate Children

Data in Dialogue Sub-Saharan Africa

June 25, 2018

Author: Rachel Thomas

"It’s sad that the trend continues to be funding western-based organizations to do work in Africa."

- Jeanne Elone, TrustAfrica

Trends In Human Rights Funding Data at the Intersections: Advancing Environmental and Climate Justice Using a Human Rights Lens

May 23, 2018

Author: Meerim Ilyas, Amber Moulton, and Salote Soqo

In February, in San Francisco, a group of funders gathered for a day-long discussion of funding trends in human rights. The discussion offered opportunities for a deeper dive into funding shifts, what they mean and what we, as funders, can do to advocate for funding growth where it’s needed. Those of us who use a human rights framework to fund environmental and climate justice pondered over the data presented: What does it mean to fund an issue that is highly intersectional, not always defined as human rights-related, and heavily dependent on larger foundations?

Trends In Human Rights Funding Why International Human Rights Funders Still Have a Role to Play in Brazil

April 23, 2018

Author: Maíra Junqueira, Brazil Human Rights Fund

Data from the Advancing Human Rights initiative gives us at the Brazil Human Rights Fund a better understanding of where Brazil is situated in the context of global human rights philanthropy. This knowledge helps us to be more strategic in our work as we consider how to best support civil society organizations and develop domestic philanthropy to promote human rights in Brazil.

Trends In Human Rights Funding Are You Over or Under-Protecting Your Grants Data? 5 Ways to Balance Transparency and Data Protection in Sensitive Contexts

April 11, 2018

Author: Laia Griñó, Foundation Center

In a field where data can pose real risks, some might feel that this openness is ill-advised. Yet transparency and data protection need not be at odds. By operating from a framework of responsible data, funders can simultaneously protect the privacy and security of grantees and contribute to making the human rights field more transparent, accountable, and effective.

Trends In Human Rights Funding Where are the Gaps, Opportunities, and Challenges? Comparing funding trends from the women’s funds community

March 8, 2018

Author: Augusta Hagen-Dillon, Prospera

As a hub of women’s funds, one of Prospera’s roles is to identify the trends, opportunities, and challenges our members face in fundraising for and conducting their grantmaking. The Advancing Human Rights initiative offers a unique opportunity for us to learn about the state of human rights funding and place the work of women’s funds within this broader context. Prospera completed a parallel five-year trends report of women’s funds. With both of these tools in hand, we can deepen our understanding of the funding landscape and begin to address key questions that inform our collective work.

Trends In Human Rights Funding Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals: Are the SDGs living up to their promise to leave no one behind?

February 15, 2018

Author: Anna Koob and Inga Ingulfsen, Foundation Center

Much has been made of the commitment to human rights principles reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 goals covering a range of social and economic issues to guide the global development agenda through 2030. But how does funding aligned with the SDGs overlap with funding that supporting human rights? And to what extent have human rights funders and advocates succeeded in leveraging the SDGs to mobilize support and resources?

Trends In Human Rights Funding A View From London: Three questions to answer from the Advancing Human Rights trends data

January 31, 2018

Author: David Sampson, The Baring Foundation

The Advancing Human Rights initiative is a welcome reminder that we have colleagues all over the world doing similar work. We know that what works in Buenos Aires may not work in Liverpool, but we can all learn from each other’s successes and challenges. Advancing Human Rights is a unique platform for understanding our combined decisions on strategy and funding flows; the release of new data always gives us pause to reflect on our work and our community of practice. The latest findings provided some surprising results and lots of food for thought. Here are my top three for Western Europe:

Trends In Human Rights Funding The Missing Piece of the Puzzle – Using Data to Improve Funding Practice

January 24, 2018

Author: Lorena Klos, Ariadne

As human rights foundations strive to solve complex societal issues around the world through their grantmaking, analyzing data might just be the missing piece of the puzzle in improving funding practices, at the both individual and collective levels. Data allow foundation staff and individual grantmakers to gain insight into what is working, where improvements are needed, and where they fit within the field of human rights philanthropy in order to produce a greater impact.

What Surprises Me about Human Rights Grantmaking

February 15, 2017

Author: Melinda Fine

When your job centers on helping funders assess needs, devise strategies, and manage and evaluate their grantmaking, you wish that every field would have a resource like Advancing Human Rights: Update on Global Foundation Grantmaking.

The World is Upside-Down. What are Human Rights Funders Doing to Turn it Over?

February 8, 2017

Author: Carla López C.

According to the research, Global South and East funders provided $63.5 million through 2,259 grants to 1,837 recipients working to protect and promote human rights in 2014. Many of these donors are women’s funds that have taken the lead in mobilizing local and international resources that wouldn’t otherwise reach grassroots groups in their countries and regions.

Funding the Frontlines: The Value of Supporting Grassroots Organizing

August 2, 2016

Author: Hilal Baykara

What I find most interesting in this research is the amount of funding allocated to grassroots organizing — a mere 2 percent. This statistic aligns with the findings of the Civicus study The State of Civil Society, 2015, which notes that NGOs receive only 1 percent of official development assistance.

Being Counted: Funding for People With Disabilities

July 16, 2015

Author: Diana Samarasan

Advancing Human Rights enables us to start conversations within the philanthropic sector - to find the people who are not counted, the voices that are not heard, and the stories between the lines.

Traveling Toward Greater Impact

November 13, 2014

Author: Julie Broome

That's exactly the value I see in the maps and analysis of human rights grantmaking created by the International Human Rights Funders Group and Foundation Center. They, too, can help those of us in the field of human rights philanthropy establish where we are and think critically about where we are going.