WINGS Webinar to focus on mobilizing resources for women’s rights

Photo courtesy of Lin Center for Community Development, VietnamThis upcoming WINGS webinar will present new research by the International Network of Women’s Funds, in collaboration with the International Human Rights Funders Group and Mama Cash, and will explore the role of resource mobilization in expanding local support for women’s rights and strengthening local cultures of philanthropy in the Global South and East.

The webinar will provide additional insight into how women’s funds are utilizing local resource mobilization as one tool to shirt internalized beliefs and attitudes, social and cultural norms, formal policies, and access to resources for women’s movements.

The webinar will be held on 2 December, 4pm UTC. For more information, including how to register, please click here

Latest from the EdgeFunders’ Just Giving Social Philanthropy Conference: updates from our on-the-spot bloggers here!

Nora Lester Murad, writer and volunteer with Dalia Association, Palestine’s community foundation, Dana Doan, Adviser to the LIN Center for Community Development in Vietnam and Fulufhelo Netswera, Tswera Community Foundation are at the EdgeFunders’ Just Giving Social Philanthropy Conference in Berkeley, CA, where they will be speaking in a session on community philanthropy. They will contributing a series of blogs over the course of the conference. The most recent blog is at the top.

Nora Lester Murad, Dana Doan and Fulu Netswera, our intrepid bloggers at the EdgeFunders Conference

Wednesday 30th April 2014: Fulu on philanthropy in the context of complex global issues

 Today was another day filled with moving philanthropic experiences shared by foundations here at the EDGE Funders Alliance conference in Berkeley, CA.

The day started with at least three interesting performances. The three poems are inspired by the importance of benevolence and the work of philanthropic organisations all over the world. I realise very much how much it helps to visualise and dramatize important matters than just talk through some often “cold” PowerPoint slides and these plays reinforces an important learning angle:

The first poem presents intricacies and interconnectedness of life all over the plant to which the “well-off” is often oblivious. How important it is to realise that the your refrigerator is stocked with food that is produced of cheap labour exploited by big multinational corporates and that it is polluted by pesticides to which your body would soon falls sick;

  • The second poem was a dialogue between a human and earth. Earth reminds man that they are slowly sliding away from natural existence retreating into their concrete jungles, destroying forests and the little left fresh water sources continually dissing this relationship and fulfilling this void with new found gadgets and toys. Earth reminds man that she will survive with or without this relationship but will mankind survive?; and
  • The third poem paints a scene of two protests taking place at Washington DC. The first protest is Free Palestine movement and the second is Gay Rights parade. The march paints interesting contrast in life priorities and interests. The voices are competing as the two marches move parallel each other towards the capitol shouting free Palestine!….Gay rights now! Towards the end a singular voice emerges in this shouting match; “…Palestine Gay Rights!” These noises all over the world distract us of what in order of priority many may agree needs attention first and by all.

The plenary was equally moving titled, “Strategies for the historic shifts we need”. The panellists comprised Walden Bello who is Philippine author, academic and member of congress; Million Belay director of MELCA Mahiber who is a food sovereign activist from Ethiopia; Sarita Gupta who is executive director of Jobs with Justice and Holly Bartling of the Human Rights and Economic Justice Programme. Important takeaways from this plenary can be summarised as:

  • People do not perpetually tolerate huge and obvious disparities in wealth. The French revolution repeats itself all the time all over the world and we seem not to learn. Will it not repeat itself this time on a global scale? The big question is whose solutions will the general public chose? Will corporate, the rich and middle class retain the privileges that they have when the next class revolution happens? In a highly globalised world that is fast moving towards unprecedented disparities we need to continuously consider that production should firstly benefit local than export markets and capital. Economic policy should thus be subjected to democratic processes and swing away from further corporatisation;
  • Africa and the world are faced with increasing mouths to feed annually amidst disparity in consumption patterns and contrasting increase in climatic change, soil degradation and erosion and poor yield. It seems that everyone has solutions for Africa but no one has genuine interest for its development than just exploitation of Africa and the developing world. The green revolution should therefore recognise the rights of African farmers (mostly women) and their farming methods. Through interventions by international governments and corporations African agriculture has slowly been changed into agribusiness thereby eroding the important cultural elements of farming, water and soil treatment which are long indigenous African traditions. Million gave practical examples of how his programmes are making a difference in the restoration of fish stocks and turning unproductive land into fertile land using traditional methodologies in Ethiopia; and
  • One of the biggest challenge that faces humanity is attaining a livelihood through one’s labour. Trends internationally are that jobs are becoming contingent, part time, contracted thereby minimising the historic value associated with valuable and useful work. In the new forms of labour relations employees no longer negotiate conditions and lack stability and benefits of normal jobs. A variety of Jobs for Justice specifically in the retail sector has led to numerous litigations with giant retailors and their supply chain and logistical feeding industries that are continuously eroding and violating labour rights. Jobs for Justice won a big battle against Wall Mart forcing the industry to ensure that no abuses and exploitation from all its suppliers all over the world is tolerated and workers interests are protected.

 

There were also interesting lessons from one of the day’s parallel session titled “From Transaction to Transformation: why structural racialization analysis is essential for challenging global corporate power”. The discussions led by John Powell, Taj James and Saru Jayaraman flagged the following points:

 

  • The role of government overtime has shifted to protect corporates who are wrongfully perceived to be economic producers than protecting the interests of the general public and workers;
  • Explored how big corporates always get their favourite policies approved by legislature despite public protests because they are able to “buy” and sponsor power acquisition; and
  • Provided evidence proved that continuous expansion of corporate rights shrinks civil and human rights;

 

The political other represent those with no political voice and therefore no legislative representation. As the public gains more rights corporate slowly erode these rights. Example: when the public won the right to vote; the corporate South in America ensured the introduction of new legislative measure like voter ID and no vote rights for convicted felons.

The goal post keeps shifting to ensure the public is on the back foot and corporate interests are secured. There is recognition of the growth in anxiety among the racial other (blacks, Latinos and Muslim). We should realise that we can only deal with the environment and racial prejudices from public policy front and not from the economic (income inequality) front first. We can’t address inequality through tinkering with the economy like the minimum wages. The struggle should be for equitable in ownership across race. Although philanthropy realises the challenges of inequality and marginalisation its response unfortunately is often that we have bigger global challenges to confront like ecology thereby ignoring the root causes of the same major challenges.

Lookout for my next and final report from the EDGE Funders Alliance conference at the Bay in San Francisco FNetswera@gmail.com 

Wednesday 30th April 2014: Fulu asks whose side we choose to be on

Yesterday was an important day for philanthropy worldwide as the second EDGE (Engaged Donors for Global Equity) Funders Alliance conference got underway here in Berkeley, CA.

The facilitator opened the conference with a chorus, “Whose side are you on?”, that forced me reflect on the possibilities of the duality or multiplicity of side that mankind has to consider for and as their personal, social and economic choices for association. Or are there obvious choices really I wonder? How obvious is it to an everyday man the clarity of these choices or are these choices at all? Are the choices as clear either for corporates or is it survival of the fittest in this economic Wild West?

1. To be one with nature or to destroy our habitat as we know it?

2. To continue the capitalist/corporate greed at an all profit or nothing orientation and majority profit for a few?

To complement the chorus; a short video clip (ecology project) by Gopal Dayaneni that educates all about the meaning and importance of the principles of Eco (home) ology (nature/biodiversity) was screened suggesting that man “is/should be” one with nature. However man has taken a greedy path of extractive role by amassing finite earthly resources at a pace unsustainable. 

It seemed by the introduction of the inaugural plenary that philanthropy has chosen its side in this “struggle” by the introduction of the conference plenary titled “components of just transition”. The discussants (Sarah Hobson, Susan George, Kumi Naidoo and Maria Poblet) provided a compelling argument for the urgency of the required “transition” which should be “just” to all humans and ecology. 

Without repeating the entire plenary; among others, were important talk points and deductions:

 

  • There is a flaw in thinking the economy can sustain an infinite growth and mankind has to change that attitude;   
  • Man should consider possibilities of an economy with minimal externalities (pollution, labour exploitation, huge gaps between rich and poor, etc.);
  • Unfettered capitalism leads to inequality. Mankind (neoliberal economists [banks, gas companies, etc.]) have eroded the gains of post-world war (decolonization, women’s rights, universal health care, etc.) and the struggle should be to consolidate some of these gains.

The challenge we all face is global and systematic and small man is largely not able to influence major policies that matter. Kumi Naidoo closed by reminding everyone on the save earth campaign that mankind has already run out of time and that the planet needs no saving because it has the power to replenish with or without mankind.

The big question looms still; whose side are the philanthropic “intermediaries”? Do we realize the existence of the philanthropic movement is an outcome of the same extractionist capitalist system and we are complacent in perpetuation of the capitalist trickle down ideology? Naidoo reminded all that in all of history where mankind won; the struggles were characterized by ultimate sacrifice. It seems that mankind has already started an uprising against corporate and political greed worldwide if one chooses to look at it closely.

Gandhi: “…first they will ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”

The subsequent exchanges in parallel sessions were as cross sectional as they were informative. Lookout for my subsequent reports from San Francisco FNetswera@gmail.com 

Tuesday 29th April 2014: Dana on the vexed question of whom it is that intermediaries serve? Donors or communities?  

The conference started with an adapted version of the union organizing song “What Side Are You On?”  Little did I realize at the time how much that little ditty would affect me throughout the first day of dialogues.

My first breakout session of the day focused on “The importance of intermediaries in advancing social justice”. I choose that workshop because I assumed they would talk about organizations like the one I represent.  Then, somewhere in the middle of the presentations and questions from panelists, I became confused by the way we were talking about intermediaries.

The panelists shared that, to them, intermediaries are:

  • Issue experts and thought leaders;
  • Networkers and collaborators;
  • Making grassroots organizing possible;
  • Helping big donors disburse grants to small organizations;
  • Offering political cover to Foundation staff looking that want to overcome Trustee tendencies towards traditional philanthropy;
  • Important mechanisms for getting resources to the base;
  • Providing technical assistance to grassroots organizations;
  • Giving funders the stories they need;
  • Making it possible for their organizations to seek systemic change;
  • More effective messengers for change; and/or
  • The most loyal and strategic funder partners.

While some of these ideas fit my organization, others did not sit well.

Then Nora Murad, from the Dalia Association in Palestine, which I consider to be a peer organization, asked a question, making it clear that she does not see her organization as an intermediary either. Nora and I had an opportunity to talk for a bit about this after the workshop and, through that conversation, I realized my confusion lay in the fact that the discussion focused on being intermediaries for the funders.

For me and my colleagues at the LIN Center for Community Development, in Vietnam, our intermediary role was constructed to benefit our community. The work that we do and the organizations we support are and always have been determined based on our mission – to improve social outcomes by organizing different stakeholders that desire change.  As such, I really like and better relate to the term and description for Backbone Organizations, as coined by The Greater Cincinnati Foundation and FSG, in a 2012 report.  While we track the outcomes of our small grants, more important to us is how we can build common ground, how we can help to form new partnerships and how we can ensure good communication’s and a transparent process that people can understand and trust.

That’s all just to say that I do know what side we are on.

We are on the side of humanity.

Tuesday 29th April 2014: Nora again, on moving the conversation up a gear and a welcome break from log frames

By mid-morning on Day One, I was already basking in gratitude. Hearing these folks talk about transformation of the global economy, dismantling of power structures that perpetuate inequality, renewing relationships between human beings and the planet—wow! Coming from Palestine where donors talk about inputs and outputs and indicators and where “good practice” is often defined by submission of timely reports, my hope is refreshed. I had no idea that people were still talking about social justice. That people’s movements were still a living aspiration. Then, when the lights dimmed for the showing of the eight-minute film, “The Meaning of Home” I found myself holding my breath. I didn’t want to miss a word or risk spoiling the moment by the banal act of breathing. With powerful visuals, impassioned explanations, the film explained the components of ecological justice in a way that made me want to cheer. And the day got even better when at every opportunity these funders asked themselves, “What is our role in global transformation?” I am inspired!

 Tuesday 29th April 2014: Nora, on being neither a “funder” nor a “non-funder”

A pre-conference meeting preceded the opening welcome panel, and already the contradictions and challenges of defining “community philanthropy” have come to the fore. The organizers of EdgeFunders’ Just Giving Social Philanthropy Conference in Berkeley, CA called for a caucus of “non-funder” conference attendees. Slowly, as the word spread, the small room filled up with an exciting mix of climate justice activists, food sovereignty advocates, indigenous leaders, and others.

It made sense to me that folks who aren’t donors might have unique needs to fully benefit from a meeting primarily composed of grantmakers, but I am not sure whether or not Dalia Association, Palestine’s community foundation, is a “funder” or not. One could say that Dalia is a funder. Dalia is a community foundation. Dalia gives grants. On the other hand, Dalia is not a donor. We aren’t “giving” “our” “money” to others. We are “mobilizing” “collective” “resources” for “communities” to use because it is their “right.”

As the conversation goes on, I’m realizing that the concept of “philanthropy” that is being used is perhaps unclear, or perhaps I don’t agree with it, or perhaps it is in transition. Are the ones who give money “philanthropists” and the ones who give time, expertise, sweat, ideas, passion merely “receivers?” I take the risk to raise this question and it is warmly received, embraced actually. One guy says that all the resources that funders have were actually stolen from others, and that even funders who recognize that the need for massive social transformation may not acknowledge that philanthropy too must change. We’re all in process. What a very exciting conversation…

Guest blog: Development finance: Can it advance local ownership?

John Kerry’s VIP convoy speeds through Ramallah, rushing past local Palestinians: and so goes the development finance discourse – rushing past grassroots development activists. If the development finance folks would just slow down for a moment, here are a few things they might hear from those who are aid dependent about financing the post-2015 development goals:

1. Development finance isn’t just about what you put in. It needs to account for failure, as well as success

Development failure is no accident. It is, in general, caused by the same forces and interests that enrich donor countries and make others needy. Yet, with few exceptions, the post-2015 development finance discourse seems to ignore the macro-causes of development failure. So how can development finance experts hope to estimate the true costs of achieving the MDGs or post-2015 development goals?

For example, how much will it cost to eliminate food insecurity in Gaza? That depends on whether Israel lifts the siege on Gaza, allows Palestinian farmers to export crops, and allows fisherfolk access to the ocean.

And if development finance is to be relevant, it must acknowledge the causes of development failure, and it must recalculate to show the real costs, not only of development interventions, but of doing nothing. If Europe continues to grant preferential trade status to Israel, which Israel then uses to export crops produced illegally on Palestinian-occupied land, thereby entrenching Palestinians’ inability to produce their own food, should Europe’s food aid to Palestinians be reported as aid? The problem itself might not exist if Europe and others didn’t empower Israel and fail to hold it accountable for international law.

2. As ‘development’ expands to include rights, development finance must acknowledge people’s right to control their own resources

Reading the mainstream development-finance discourse, one might think that all that is needed is to raise money. With money, it would be possible to vaccinate all the children in refugee camps, and this would indicate development. Of course all children should be vaccinated, but shouldn’t they also be able to claim their right to live at home, in peace, with rights, and not in a camp? Global civil society is working hard to integrate the concept of rights into post-2015 development discourse. But are the finance folks open to the idea that recipients have the right to decide how resources are used on their behalf? Even when international actors make decisions identical to ones that locals would make for themselves, the process of external control over local development decisions is inherently anti-developmental. There can be no real, sustainable development without self-determination.

3. Development finance should supplement local resources

The idea that development finance should be ‘..complemented by private capital, development  cooperation  among countries of the South, remittances from migrants and private  donations…. is backward. Development finance should complement local resources – and not just taxation, but local resources defined more broadly.

In reality, communities survive on local resources whose value is totally ignored by the development industry, with disastrous consequences. For example, if my mother in California sends $100 to an international NGO to buy a boat with a logo that picks up stranded flood victims and takes them to safety, this is counted as ‘aid’. But if a local person uses his or her own boat and carts family and neighbours, perhaps for 20 hours a day for weeks – before the boat with the logo arrives and long after it has gone, this is not only not counted as ‘aid’, it’s not counted at all! The system ‘counts’ the problem (X number of people stranded by floods), but then only ‘counts’ the part of the response that comes from outside. The result is distorted picture of the world: local people are always needy, without resources and entirely dependent on external help while outsiders are always abundant, generous and needed.

New models of international support for local development financing

The Overseas Development Institute’s project, ‘Localizing Aid’ took a major step forward by expanding the discussion about financing development through local systems to include a focus on local civil society and by prioritising the strengthening of local systems as an explicit objective of aid. Yet ODI’s findings are inconclusive, perhaps because they asked the wrong question. The question should have been whether development (not aid) should be localised, and the obvious answer would have been yes. If ODI had explored how international development finance could support localised development (including respect for local rights, local resource mobilisation, local accountability, and sustainability), then they might have come across one of the most exciting, high-potential local systems for accountable and sustainable development we have: The community foundation.

Dalia AssociationCommunity foundations build on long traditions of giving, sharing and self-reliance, and shape them into new community forms and processes. They mobilise resources – including local, diaspora and private sector monetary and non-monetary resources – and they make grants that strengthen communities and social capital.  Studies indicate they are proliferating, especially in the global south, in response to local priorities and local opportunities, and reflecting a critique of dominant donor-controlled development models.

For international donors with a sincere commitment to local ownership (i.e. ‘respecting basic norms of sovereignty and horizontality’ (p. 16)), community foundations offer some very attractive benefits. By investing in (not ‘channeling through’) community foundations, international donors can take part in long-term, locally-owned, locally accountable social change while simultaneously strengthening the civil society sector for the long-term. This will not happen, however, if community foundations are ‘used’ as or by apex partners, to adopt the ‘Localising Aid’ jargon. Community foundations should not be contracted to engage in short-term, donor-led projects. Instead, international donors need to invest in ways that respect local rights to self-determination in development.

One way to do this is to invest in endowments for community foundations. Endowments can either fund grant-making or operational support, but – above all – the decisions are made locally, by those with the greatest stake in success.

Nora Lester Murad lives in East Jerusalem, where she writes literary fiction. She blogs at The View from My Window in Palestine, addressing issues of aid, development and daily life under military occupation. She founded the Dalia Association, Palestine’s first community foundation, and served as director until 2010.

This was first published on the Development Progress website, a hub for ideas, debate and resources on how the world is doing on international development goals 

Guest blog: New directions in Southern Human Rights Funding

The next generation of foundations in the Global South will likely be the vanguard of experimentation and learning. A look across the current funding landscape for human rights and justice in the Global South suggests reason for both disappointment and for optimism. For the sake of this review, I put aside official government aid—there is plenty there to discuss—and only look at the smaller world of private philanthropic giving.

Most past criticisms of foundation support for human rights and justice are still relevant. These critiques—apart from the very real problem of simply not enough money—include concern over weak funder strategies, timidity, short attention span, evaluation fetish, poor or no accountability and the absence of centres of research and learning committed to funding rights and justice.

Most funders who express concern about poverty, injustice and the abuse of human rights still employ strategies that that can be described as ‘charity’—funding the provision of services to reduce suffering or an immediate injustice. Although these are important if you are the victim, these strategies are silent on the causes of injustice, and leave them untouched. As a result, charitable approaches rarely deal with the frequently invisible structural sources of injustice, be they legal, economic, political or cultural.

Foundations also often have unrealistically short time frames with internal pressure to fund something new, rather than sticking with the same old problem. However, the exact opposite is necessary if one is interested not only in documenting an abuse, but working to eradicate it. Social change takes time and effort, and often requires strategic evaluation assessment and adjustment. Few foundations, however, think in terms of decades of support, rather than in yearly cycles.

Another problem is foundations’ often misguided efforts to measure success, and their seemingly blind attraction to metrics. To be sure, measuring and understanding success can be a powerful tool for learning and correction. Still, most contemporary evaluative work looks at managerial and financial issues, does not measure social impact, and is deeply burdensome. Few foundations, moreover, have effective learning mechanisms.

Funder accountability is another gaping hole. An oft-cited example is the Gates Foundation, whose assets are greater than the Gross Domestic Product of 40 of Africa’s 52 nations, but is accountable to only three trustees – Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet – none of whom are African. Most funding for human rights in the Global South is still coming from the North. As a result, this is where donors take most decisions about issue framing and the choice and deployment of methods, frequently without voice from the regions where the work will be done. While care must be taken not to over-regulate foundations and unduly restrict their creative abilities, there remains room for more thoughtful rules about governance and accountability. This is especially true where such enormous power and (what is now public) wealth are unhealthily concentrated in the hands of a few.

What, then, is the good news about global funding for human rights? There are some exciting trends worthy of note, including new funders, different kinds of funders, and new networks to strengthen them.

Over the past two decades, the global foundation landscape has changed profoundly, with many new foundations based in, and indigenous to, the Global South. New institutions like TrustAfrica (Senegal) and the African Women’s Development Foundation (Ghana) now speak to Africa, from Africa. Though still heavily reliant on overseas funding, these groups are increasingly raising money from African donors, including individuals, civil society groups and corporations. For example, several African national air carriers have “donate spare change” envelopes in the seat pockets. More importantly, these African donor organizations offer a different voice in the intra-funder conversation.

Other independent foundations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are increasingly visible—though not all are committed to human rights and justice. Several large funds in the Persian Gulf, for example, seem more interested in marketing the donor’s name. But in another exciting example, the Welfare Association in Palestine has shifted over the years from providing services to funding programmes focused on rights and justice. In Israel, the New Israel Fund is under attack by conservatives for its firm support of human rights and social justice. In India the Dalit Foundation is run by, organizes, trains and champions the rights of dalits (so-called untouchables) against remarkable odds.

There has also been a rapid growth of funds explicitly devoted to human rights and justice. Some, like the Brazil Human Rights Fund and the Arab Human Rights Fund, are specifically designed to serve a particular region or, in the case of the Fund for Global Human Rights, to offer grants more broadly. Others like the Astraea Lesbian Fund for Justice , which provides grants in 39 countries, and the Santamaria Fundacion GLBT in Colombia, are among a rapidly growing number of foundations that support LGBT rights, and can be found in almost every corner of the globe.

Another important trend is the growth of community-based funds across the Global South. Unlike their counterparts in the U.S. and U.K., where community foundations are often politically timid, many of these community donor groups help build constituencies among marginalized groups and negotiate for their rights with the state. The Kenya Community Development Foundation (Nairobi), the Waqfeyat al Maadi Community Foundation (Cairo) and the Amazon Partnerships Foundation (Ecuador), among many others, pose a new vision for developing stronger communities. They also challenge many assumptions of outside development aid, such as imposed problem identification and strategies, and lack of community agency. Most mainstream foundations in the U.S. and Europe, as well as most bi-lateral aid agencies, are unaware of this growing phenomenon.

Waqfeyat al Maadi Community Foundation, Egypt

Perhaps the most impressive collection of funds are those focusing on the rights of women and girls. While the Global Fund for Women (US) and MamaCash (the Netherlands) operate worldwide, a rapidly growing number of women’s funds are anchored in national and local communities. From Serbia to Mongolia, and from Bulgaria to Bangladesh, there are almost 50 members of the International Network of Women’s Funds (INWF). This number does not include the women’s funds in the U.S. While many of these funds have very limited budgets, they represent a new movement of philanthropic giving. One particularly impressive example is Tewa, the women’s fund of Nepal, which has raised funds from over 3,000 Nepali donors, most of very modest means. Although large foundations often belittle small donations of this kind, they misunderstand the critical importance of building local power and community ownership. Tewa and the other women’s funds are closely linked to one another by the INWF, and demonstrate a high degree of collective work and joint learning, unlike most mainstream foundations. In some instances, women’s funds form regional coalitions, as in the case of Latin America, to deal with common issues.

INWF is just one of several active funder networks supporting human rights and justice in the Global South. These new networks have a vitality and seriousness of purpose largely missing in the North. Exceptions include groups such as Ariadne in Europe, which has partnered with the International Human Rights Funders Group to work on funding for human rights worldwide. Several issue-based groups (e.g., Foundations for Peace) and location-specific ones (e.g., the African Grantmakers Network) are actively engaging their members in work that deals with human rights, social justice and peacebuilding issues—changing the traditional role of foundation associations.

So, while old problems remain, new funders are emerging with an explicit commitment to justice and rights. They are challenging the dominant philanthropic discourses, and in some instances, are experimenting with radically different practices. In one example of new thinking, a few groups are talking about moving away from sole reliance on foundation support and looking not at discrete grants—but the possibility of tapping small percentages of massive international financial resource flows. Ideas like these point to the role of this next generation of foundations in the South as the likely vanguard of experimentation and learning.

Christopher Harris was Senior Program Officer for Philanthropy in the Peace and Social Justice Program of the Ford Foundation for a decade. He now works as a consultant to foundations, and works with the international Working Group on Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace, which he founded. 

This article was originally published on openGlobalRights a new and accessible platform for debate about advocacy strategies, funding, successes, and failures. It is also available in Spanish, French, Portuguese and Arabic.

PhotoSpeak: Photography: a new lens on youth civic engagement?

On 25th April, the GFCF hosted its second webinar focusing on community foundations and their work with young people. The webinar focused on the work of two organizations – one from South Africa and the other from the United States – which have used photography as a platform through which to amplify the voices of young people in the community.

The Community Development Foundation Western Cape, a young but dynamic community foundation based in Cape Town, is now in the third year of its PhotoSpeak programme, which takes a rights-based approach to youth development and engages young people through the medium of photography. Executive Director, Beulah Fredericks, described how the programme had evolved from the pilot phase – in which young people were simply invited to reflect their community through photos – to its current form where the emphasis is on “Governance through the eyes of youth”. Aspiring photographers are now encouraged to capture images of day to day events in their communities that somehow connect with South Africa’s bill of rights (whether by illustration of that right being claimed, or it be denied) and the overall objective is not only to observe, document and lead to greater awareness around political and economic rights but also to use the photographic images as a launching point from which to discuss solutions and actions, as well as individual responsibilities.

In the words of one of the PhotoSpeak participants:

“Through the photos taken others were able to acknowledge and appreciate triumphs, hardships, and other aspects our youth are facing. Success of the project was dependent upon the youth. Because of the vision of The Community Development Foundation PhotoSpeak and linking youth with communities, as well as presenting a positive outlet for teens to express themselves was possible.”

The inspiration for this programme came out of a study visit Beulah made to the United States in the early days of the community foundation which included a site visit to the Golden Gate Community Centre in Phonenix, a grantee of the Arizona Community Foundation. Sarah Gonzalez, current director of the community centre, also joined the webinar as a presenter. She talked about the GGCC’s “Photo Vision” programme and how the centre used it as a mechanism through which to determine what young people thought was important to address in their communities. Like CDFWC, for whom “PhotoSpeak” is part of a larger strategy to encourage young people’s participation in the community as well as a constituency-building effort for the foundation itself, “Photo Vision” is not just a stand-alone project but rather feeds into a larger more integrated development initiative spear-headed by the community centre.

Both presentations from the webinar will soon be available on the GFCF website (presentations from our previous webinar on YouthBank are already available).

 

New grants to two community philanthropy partners in Asia

The GFCF is pleased to announce two new grants in South Asia. Tewa, the Nepal Women’s Fund and IPartner’s India office have been awarded $12,000 and $10,000 respectively. Tewa will be using its grant to strengthen its grassroots partners competencies in local fundraising and volunteer development and IPartner will partner with local donors and grassroots partners around child trafficking.

Meanwhile, another GFCF grantee partner in India, Nirnaya, has awarded its first set of soft loans to adivasi women’s groups in Jharkand state, eastern India.

A full list of our recent grants can be found here.

Statement from GFCF grantee, Dalia Association, initiating a campaign to reform international aid to Palestine in run up to Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness

Ramallah, PalestineDalia Association joins the global movement for aid reform by launching a campaign to enable Palestinians to claim their rights to self-determination in development. Palestinians’ rights to self-determination are already denied by occupation, colonization and dispossession. Dalia Association, a long-time GFCF grantee, argues that international aid, which is supposed to help, should not be delivered in ways that further undermine local priorities, capacities and ownership.

Dalia Association considers advocacy to reform the international aid system among its core objectives because aid-dependence undermines self-reliance, philanthropy and local decision-making, which are core objectives of community foundations. However, this campaign is Dalia Association’s first effort to seek support around the world.

Palestinians discuss their experiences with international aid and mechanisms to reduce dependence on aid

“The campaign aims to raise awareness among Palestinians and internationals that we do have rights in the aid process and that respect for these rights is tied to development effectiveness,” says Saeeda Mousa, Dalia Association’s acting executive director. “We also want to cultivate tangible support for aid reform among southern civil society organizations and northern allies. This is the first step in a longer process of engaging constructively with donors and international NGOs to change the policies and practices that perpetuate aid dependence and disempower local civil society.”

The advocacy campaign began with the launch of Dalia Association’s research with community-based organizations entitled, Appeal by Palestinian Civil Society to the International Community to Respect Our Right to Self-Determination in the Aid System. The report expresses the complaints and recommendations of grassroots civil society in Palestine and gives rare and valuable insight into how recipients experience the aid system.

Specifically, participants in Dalia Association’s research objected that:

1.   Most donors fund relief, not development;

2.   Use of intermediaries can harm local civil society’s effectiveness and sustainability;

3.   International aid organizations often impose unrealistic and unfair procedures;

4.   Many international aid organizations impose agendas rather than respond to local ones;

5.   Applying for funds takes too much time and effort;

6.   Proposals and reports usually cannot be in Arabic, which is the local language;

7.   Most donors fund using political criteria;

8.   Many funding schemes are designed not to cover all costs;

9.   There is insufficient local leadership in agenda-setting and decision-making;

10. Anti-terrorism clause is unacceptable; and

11. Aid actors do not always fulfill their contractual obligations.

 

Workshop participants also made recommendations about how to improve the international aid system. These included:

1.   Select and evaluate civil society grantees fairly and transparently;

2.   Fulfill commitments;

3.   Respect local priorities and capacities;

4.   Follow up…genuinely;

5.   Don’t fund through unprofessional intermediaries;

6.   Give aid on professional, not political, criteria;

7.   Make the aid process more accessible and less burdensome;

8.   Enable sustainability through longer and more flexible funding; and

9.   Invest in local capacity, not in INGOs at Palestinians’ expense.

 

Changes like these will not only directly improve aid programs, but leverage local insight and capacity, thus providing donors with greater value for their contributions.

The campaign also includes circulation of a petition to Palestinians and allies all over the world, release of two forthcoming short films highlighting grassroots voices, and cooperation with other NGOs, donors and international NGOs to innovate solutions to the problems identified.

The campaign is timed to correspond with the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea at the end of November. The High Level Forum is the most influential venue for global discussions about aid policy; the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action being the outcomes of the last two Forums.

“Representing Dalia Association at the High Level Forum is a huge honor and responsibility,” says Nora Lester Murad, a volunteer. Dalia Association is the only Palestinian NGO participating and only one of eight civil society representatives from the Arab world. Dalia Association will be exhibiting its innovations in local-international cooperation to the 2500 global aid policymakers, speaking on a panel on aid to conflict areas in the civil society forum, and facilitating a cross-sectoral workshop about reforming aid on the main agenda of the global meeting. Dalia Association previously signed on to Better Aid’s “CSO Key Asks” and the Make Aid Transparent Campaign.

Although Palestine’s political context is unique, the challenges it faces as a result of aid dependence are similar to the challenges faced in other aid-dependent regions. For this reason, both the problems – and the solutions – uncovered by the campaign in Palestine should be of interest across the globe. “We encourage our international allies to read and disseminate the report and sign the petition. We also invite civil societies in other aid-dependent regions to contact us with ideas about how we can cooperate in this effort,” says Saeeda Mousa. Interested parties can subscribe to eNews from Dalia Association.

(An e-poster produced by the Dalia Association, which presents the community foundation as a mechanism for international support of locally accountable development, was among those selected to be played at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea at the end of November 2011. To see the e-poster click here).