Grantmaking for Human Rights Efforts Totaled $2.3 Billion in 2013

Funding from foundations in support of global human rights initiatives totaled $2.3 billion in 2013, up significantly from $1.8 billion in 2012, a report from Foundation Center and the International Human Rights Funders Group finds.

The 2016 edition of Advancing Human Rights: Update on Global Foundation Grantmaking (14 pages, PDF) found that 803 foundations based in forty-six countries made 20,300 grants to 12,262 organizations working to advance human rights. Among the 649 funders included in both the 2012 and 2013 data sets, total grant dollars awarded increased 23 percent, while the total number of grants awarded was up 6 percent. For the third straight year, the Open Society Foundations was the largest funder in terms of both total grant dollars ($303.8 million) and the number of grants awarded (2,262), followed by the Ford Foundation ($270.9 million, 824 grants).

Now in its fourth edition, the report for the first time examined foundation funding for human rights by strategy, and found that 27 percent of the grant dollars and 24 percent of the grants awarded supported an advocacy, systems reform, and implementation strategy, followed by capacity building and technical assistance (15 percent of dollars, 14 percent of grants) and research and documentation (13 percent and 11 percent). Conducted in collaboration with Ariadne - European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights and Prospera – the International Network of Women's Funds, the research also found that among issue areas, equality rights and freedom from discrimination received the largest share of grant dollars (15 percent), while among population groups, women and girls were a stated focus of 21 percent of grant dollars, followed by children and youth (19 percent) and migrants and refugees (11 percent).

For the first time, the analysis also includes bilateral and multilateral funding using data compiled from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s Creditor Reporting System. Researchers identified 13,721 aid disbursements for human rights totaling $3.7 billion with Sweden accounting for 14 percent of such disbursements, followed by the United States (12 percent) and European Union Institutions and Norway (11 percent each). The data can be accessed at the interactive Advancing Human Rights website.

"Foundation Center's partnership with IHRFG on Advancing Human Rights: Knowledge Tools for Funders is an impressive contribution not only to knowledge sharing within the human rights field, but also for the world of global grantmaking," said Lawrence T. McGill, vice president for knowledge services at Foundation Center. "The initiative has generated an unprecedented amount of international grants data from the philanthropic sector. We're proud to work together with IHRFG to advance funding transparency and extend the knowledge base for human rights, while also balancing these ideals with security and respect for grantee safety."

"New Research Gives Clearest Picture Ever of Global Human Rights Funding." Foundation Center and International Human Rights Funders Group Press Release 07/19/2016.