Foundation funding in support of global human rights initiatives totaled $2.8 billion in 2016, up from $2.4 billion in 2015, a report from Candid (formerly Foundation Center) and the Human Rights Funders Network finds.
The report from the Advancing Human Rights research hub, Advancing Human Rights: Annual Review of Global Foundation Grantmaking 2016 Key Findings (12 pages, PDF), found that 785 funders in forty-three countries awarded 23,016 grants to 13,242 organizations working to address the root causes of injustice and inequality and ensure the protection and enjoyment of internationally recognized human rights. Twenty-one percent of those grant dollars were awarded in the form of general support grants. Within a subset of 584 foundations that provided human rights grants data for both 2016 and 2015 (representing 94 percent of total 2016 funding), grant dollars increased 34 percent, to $2.66 billion; the number of grants rose 14 percent; and the share of funding reported as general support grew 3 percent. In 2016, support for global human rights initiatives accounted for 5 percent of total foundation funding.
Based on data from the matched subset, support for human rights efforts increased in six out of eight global regions, led by the Caribbean (an increase of 46 percent, to $33 million) and Latin America and Mexico (up 41 percent, to $177 million), due in part to a $10 million grant in support of sexual and reproductive rights in those regions and a $25 million grant to promote racial equality in Brazil. In terms of issues, the area receiving the most support was health and well-being rights ($344 million), followed by equality and freedom from discrimination ($327 million), social and cultural rights ($273 million), freedom from violence ($265 million), environmental and resource rights ($252 million), sexual and reproductive rights ($216 million), and economic and labor rights ($213 million). And in terms of target population, women/girls and children/youth each received 23 percent of total funding, followed by migrants and refugees (11 percent).
According to the report, the top human rights funders by grant dollars awarded in 2016 were the Ford Foundation ($253 million), the Foundation to Promote Open Society (Open Society Foundations, $154 million), the W.K. Kellogg Foundation ($149 million), the UK-based National Lottery Community Fund (formerly Big Lottery Fund; $143 million), and the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation ($142 million). The top human rights funders based in the Global South and East were Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres (Nicaragua, $8 million), Fundación AVINA (Panama, $3 million), the Foundation for Civil Society (Tanzania, $3 million), UHAI ˗ the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative (Kenya, $2 million), and the International Indigenous Women's Forum (Peru, $2 million).
"In the nine years since Candid and the Human Rights Funders Network first partnered to produce the Advancing Human Rights initiative, we've stayed true to our original goal to provide a broad view of the state of human right funding," said Candid director of research Anna Koob. "But our analyses have also evolved to respond to critical questions: How does identifying as a human rights funder affect an organization's grantmaking? Who are the funders based in the Global South and East? And how much funding for human rights is going to local organizations? The latest report offers data to support these conversations happening in the field."