AWID Studies the Feminist Funding Ecosystem

This week’s essential reading for feminist givers comes from the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) with their report, Toward a Feminist Funding Ecosystem. The report helps to more clearly define the different types of funding that impact feminist movement-building, and makes recommendations for how to increase the most effective forms of funding.

AWID’s report, Toward a Feminist Funding Ecosystem, defines four main types of funding that impact feminist social change. (Image credit: AWID)

The report cites evidence that, “A remarkable – and disturbing – 99% of gender-related international aid fails to reach women’s rights and feminist organizations directly.” Instead, these funds end up being used by the development agencies that receive them, or get redistributed to mainstream organizations that are not associated with feminist movement builders.

As the report states: “The paradox of the current ecosystem is that the largest funders primarily use the most restricted modalities, while the best, most flexible money sits in the smallest pools – women’s funds, a small number of private foundations, and autonomous resourcing.”

The report discusses a prime example of “diverted funding” as the trend of “investing” in women and girls as “smart economics” — providing resources to individual women such as microloans and individual support for education. This kind of funding, says the report, is much less effective because it “doesn’t shift resources to collective political organizing that aims to shift power in society, economy, and politics. “

This report takes a nuanced approach to studying how funding works to impact the systems that keep patriarchy in place. The recommendations for both grantees and funders encourage better collaboration and speaking truth to power in the grantmaking relationship. One recommendation urges grantees to push back on funders. “Many funders do not have the perspective or information to truly meet your needs. Organize with others in your movements to say, ‘these are our priorities.’ Push back collectively on requirements that are too burdensome or not serving you.”


Philanthropy Women covers funding for gender equity in all sectors of society. We want to significantly shift public discourse, particularly in philanthropy, toward increased action for gender equality. You can support our work and access unlimited and premium content with one of our subscriptions.

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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