What challenges do we face in conducting this research?

Balancing Transparency and Security: We are committed to keeping human rights grantmakers and advocates informed about the state of human rights funding, while ensuring this information does not put anyone at risk. As we’ve developed tools for sharing our findings, we’ve grappled with exactly how much detail to include. One step we’ve taken is to ask grantmakers to anonymize any grant details they feel are too sensitive to be made public. To learn more about our approach to responsible data sharing, visit our data sharing guidelines.

Getting the Details: Funders provide varying levels of detail about their grants. Grant records that have only minimal information about the grantee, purpose of the grant, funding strategies used, and populations and locations served make it difficult to accurately capture the nuances of human rights philanthropy. The more detailed information grantmakers can share, the more accurately we can capture their funding.

Identifying Re-Granting: Re-granting also poses a challenge in capturing human rights grantmaking. In some cases, private foundations make grants to support the work of public foundations, which operate their own grant programs. To avoid double-counting, we exclude grants from private foundations to public foundations in our totals when those public foundations are also included in our analysis. However, when calculating a foundation's total human rights grantmaking, we include all of its human rights-related grants.

Establishing a Global Picture: Grants from U.S. foundations account for a large proportion of the funding we track, due to the relative accessibility of data from the U.S. where foundations are legally required to make this information publicly available. Since we began this research, the number of foundations based outside the U.S. that are sharing their grants lists with us has continued to grow. Collecting data from more funders outside the U.S. is a priority for us as we work to build a more comprehensive picture of the funding landscape.

Producing Timely Analyses: We believe in the value of real-time data. However, we can’t start our annual analyses until we receive grants lists from a critical mass of foundations who fund human rights work. We ask that foundations send their most recent fiscal year data to info@hrfn.org by June 30 each year and encourage their peers to share their grants lists, too.