April 29 2021 GM

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Glitter Meetups

Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IFF Square on the IFF Mattermost, at 9am EST / 1pm UTC. Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.

  • Date: Thusday, April 29th
  • Time: 9am EST / 1pm UTC
  • Topic: Feminist funder space and autonomous resourcing
  • Featured Guests: Fenya Fischler and Tenzin Dolker

Hear from Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)'s Fenya Fischler and Tenzin Dolker on:

  • Current trends in the feminist funder space, and how projects should research and apply for funding.
  • Provide examples of autonomous resourcing, helping individuals brainstorm ideas that may work for them.
  • Funding modalities. Specifically, how funding happens, and how it could better serve movements.

You don't want to miss this Glitter Meetup! Last year has shown that in order to be sustainable, we as digital rights defenders have to think outside of the box. AWID has years of experience doing so, and their wisdom and guidance will be an incredible gift this upcoming GM!

Fenya is a Resourcing Feminist Movements Coordinator at AWID and is currently based in Brussels. Apart from this, Fenya has been involved in various grassroots groups focusing food justice, building queer Jewish community and migrant solidarity. She is particularly interested in building communities of collective care and harm reduction.

Tenzin is a Tibetan feminist advocate and researcher currently based in Chicago. At the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), she facilitates, analyses and writes on the state of resourcing for feminist organsing. Tenzin Dolker is also a PhD fellow in governance and policy analysis at UNU-MERIT at Maastricht University where she researches gender and labour migration in Asia.

Community Updates

Topic of Discussion: Feminist Funding & Autonomous Resourcing

AWID is a global, feminist, membership, movement-support organization working to achieve gender justice and women’s human rights worldwide. They have close to 7,000 individual and organisational members around the world, from 180 countries and with almost 50% under 30 years old? 66% of their members are from the Global South. Their members are artists, activists, academics, part of grassroots communities and diverse social justice movements. Their mission is to support feminist, women’s rights and gender justice movements to thrive, to be a driving force in challenging systems of oppression, and to co-create feminist realities.

Fenya (ffischler@awid.org) and T Dolker (tdolker@awid.org) are on the resourcing feminist movements team at AWID. Their work shines a light on the current funding ecosystem, which range from self-generated models of resourcing to more formal funding streams. Through their research and analysis, they examine how funding practices can better serve our movements. They critically explore the contradictions in “funding” social transformation, especially in the face of increasing political repression, anti-rights agendas, and rising corporate power. Above all, they build collective strategies that support thriving, robust, and resilient movements.You can find them as @fenya and @t_dolker on the IFF’s Mattermost.

What are the biggest challenges folks have when trying to find funding, and are there any tips/advice you share with people

  • Feminist organising is transformative, but the funding ecosystem has yet to significantly support these movements in a transformative way.
  • There's still way too little funding to support feminist movements.
  • AWID’s upcoming “Where is the Money for Feminist Organising?” brief demonstrate beyond doubt that only a tiny fraction of available resources support sustained, collective action by feminist, women’s rights, and gender justice organizations who are challenging inequality and injustice.
  • The little funding that is available are focused on technical solutions versus being rights-based and inclusive of the systemic barriers to justice. Practically, the funds that reach feminist organising are not being flexible, not core support, not long term that addresses their needs. Like so many other systems, there are barriers in terms of accessibility, language, reporting requirements, groups that aren’t registered often can’t access funding, and many others.
  • A lot of funding also doesn't necessarily align with AWID politics... - “Policy coherence” is also an important aspect to think about the politics of funding. How do we ensure that the oppressive systems we’re resisting are not perpetuated and replicated by the funding systems. For instance, should you be taking money from corporation funders that are not paying their workers decent wages in their supply chains?
  • As for tips:
    • Fenya and T are not fundraisers. But they advocate with donors not only to give more funding to feminist movements but also to consider how they fund and to make their funding easier to access, reduce the reporting requirements and allow for more flexibility to be responsive to movement needs etc.
    • AWID has a searchable database of feminist donors which you can consult here
    • Also research donors, look for funders who align with your values, who give core funding and are flexible and are aligned with movement needs. Search for a wide range of resources that allow you to maintain your autonomy - don’t rely on just on source of income.
    • Finally, as for the most important tip, we also want to reiterate Diva’s 10 tips for grassroots organising: “Be clear why you are doing this activism. When you start, don’t worry about ‘the work we will do’. Don’t let funding drive the work. You are enough. Just start. Build constituency, knowledge and skill-shares.”
    • This example is really powerful - (and also includes Abortion Dream Team!) It's about a feminist fund in Poland - "FemFund has successfully centred its funding model on participatory grant-making, collective care, and community organising. After four years of operating, we had a candid conversation with FemFund and some of its grantee partners about the value of unrestricted funding. Learning from FemFund helps to ensure that our grant-making is responsive to the needs of feminist movements. Whilst focused on Poland, we hope our reflections will support other actors’ thinking around funding feminist movements, including in contexts of rising fundamentalisms."
    • There is this new that is being developed, which is super cool. Watch out for more details.


Is there anything we can do collectively to help you improve this?

  • If you are working with donors- advocate with them! Unfortunately we spend so much time writing proposals and getting them out the door, that it's hard to think about this- but it's important to let donors know what works and what doesn't!
  • Lots of stuff we can do together! AWID is doing lots more movement centered advocacy work. For example, they did the Equality Fund consultations, to make sure activists have inputs into how this unprecedented fund for feminist orgs can become. Also there are more participatory grantmaking happening, so ensuring that you're all engaging, and being a part of it.
  • Be loud, organize, and keep disrupting + agitating! The power imbalances w/n the funding ecosystem is deep, so we need each and everyone of us to do our part at local, regional, global levels.


Do you have any advice for feminists looking to start mobilizing resources? like how can we start more feminist funds that align with our values?

  • While there is more emphasis on resourcing movements, I would like to add that the inequalities that COVID has laid bare are the decades of systemic failures of neoliberal capitalism to meet the basic needs of people, planet, and our ecosystems. And so, resourcing for social change then must also be placed into the context of a failing socioeconomic and global governance systems. We can no longer afford to ignore the destructive forces of global wealth accumulation, unfair debt and trade regimes, precarious labor, and the obliteration of social protections and public spending.
  • We can not talk about funding for social movements and then ignore other ways that money moves against us, sometimes from the same institutions. And we will not find a path forward based on solidarity if we do not honestly and boldly reimagine the entirety of the funding ecosystem.
    • First, massive funding is being driven against the human rights of women and LGBTIQ people in the service of ultraconservative, fundamentalist, and patriarchal agendas. Between 2013 and 2017, the “anti-gender” movement received over $3.7 billion USD in funding – more than triple the funding for LGBTIQ groups globally in those years.
    • Second, wealth consolidation in the hands of the few and an unprecedented economic crisis, are pushing many more people into poverty, with a disproportionate impact on the lives of women and girls, and LGBTIQ groups.
  • So human rights activists and feminist activists should ensure that they are able to have this kind of global analysis to their local organising and resourcing strategies, and making transnational connections to push back on these systemic issues.
  • Basically, we as movements have to be aware of the funding AGAINST as much as we push for MORE + BETTER $$$.
  • How to start a giving circle here


What are some trends you are noticing right now in the feminist funder space, and are there any funders people should know about, especially if they invest in the feminist internet or digital security?

  • Unfortunately despite small new pockets of funds, funding for feminist movements still remains extremely low. However, there is a lot more desire than in the past within the funding ecosystem to directly support intersectional justice movements and feminist grassroots organising. The question is how is rhetoric translating to real action and changes, and how is it changing realities on the ground.
  • Lots of regional funds have emerged, and there's much to learn and exchange to co-build. So more soon!
  • Some key numbers from our upcoming Brief:
    • Almost half of women’s rights and feminist organisations in the Global South operate on median budgets of $30,000 a year or less.
    • 99% of development aid and foundation grants still do not directly reach women’s rights and feminist organisations.
    • Groups working at the intersecting forms of marginalization (LGBTIQ, young feminists, and sex workers) are funded even less.
    • Only 0.42% of foundation grants go towards women's rights.
    • At the same time, massive funding is being driven against the human rights of women and LGBTIQ people, in the service of ultraconservative, fundamentalist and patriarchal agendas.


Can you tell us more about the community spaces in your initiatives where different feminist projects from around the world can meet to discuss challenges/ knowledge-sharing?

  • At AWID, they have been over the years engaged w/ more than 300 activists in some form or the other, and more recently, "learning exchanges" on autonomous resourcing. Participants from various movements + regions participated and shared their work and analysis around the politics of funding, how they leverage their own autonomous resourcing practices.


Apart from traditional funding, what is autonomous resourcing?

  • So autonomous resourcing looks at how movements, collectives etc resource themselves (not just money) This is a framework AWID has been co-creating with feminist activists and movements for a number of years since AWID conferences and other convenings - the need to explore and think about self sustaining our movements in the long run, on our own terms.
  • So beyond going to traditional "funders" and applying for grants etc... AWID know that movements resource themselves in many powerful and creative ways and have been doing so for a long time.
  • Autonomous resourcing is one of the transformative ways in which movements are mobilizing financial, human, and material resources that directly support the liberatory aims of feminist political projects. It is our feminist resourcing power in action.
  • In short, these are resources generated by and for movements, centering their own power and priorities.
  • Some examples:
  • AWID describe 'autonomous resourcing' as having these 3 characteristics:
    • They hold no expectation or requirement external to movements themselves;
    • Mobilizing resources is itself movement-building: expanding a base of supporters, activating movement members, and ideally sustaining long-term relationships;
    • They offer movements the financial and political freedom to organize with agility and self-determination.


How do we approach relief funds for example women and feminists who go through online violence and really affect their mental health?

  • There are some feminist funds that can give urgent assistance for activists experiencing violence
  • For example UAF (Urgent Action Fund for Women Human Rights Defenders)
  • They are a specifically feminist fund - but also Front Line Defenders are a good resource
  • Also in Asia - Forum Asia can give emergency assistance grants
  • Social change auction here
  • KWN publications here
  • For quick grants,Awesome Foundation
  • The Marius Jacob Foundation
  • And the great article by T Dolker.


Are there any resources you think people should be aware of, besides the ones you share above?

  • The State of Trans Organising here
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Funded here
  • Also check out FRIDA (for young feminists)
  • And Astraea for LGBTIQ+ groups


Where can folks go to get more info about AWID?

  • AWID Ecosystems report here
  • Modalities report here
  • Where is the Money toolkit to do your own research and analysis here
  • Autonomous resourcing articles here