Foundation Center, IHRFG release new “Advancing Human Rights” tools for funders


Pioneering Research Illuminates Global Human Rights Philanthropy
New Report Uncovers Grants Totaling More Than $1.2 Billion

New York, NY — June 20, 2013. A partnership between the Foundation Center and the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) has produced the first data-driven portrait of how foundations are advancing human rights around the world. According to new research released today by the two organizations, over 12,000 human rights grants supported more than 6,800 organizations worldwide, amounting to $1.2 billion in 2010. Advancing Human Rights: The State of Global Foundation Grantmaking confirms that human rights philanthropy is a global phenomenon: the 703 funders included in the analysis represent 29 countries across seven major world regions.

The Ford Foundation ranked as the largest human rights funder in 2010 by grant dollars ($159.5 million), while the Open Society Foundations ranked second and reported the largest number of grants (1,248). The research, based on data analysis and interviews with funders, shows that human rights grantmaking seeks long-term change and has a special focus on supporting the efforts and livelihood of marginalized populations. The findings highlight human rights grantmaking in 10 overarching areas of activity, including access to justice and equality before the law, sexual and reproductive rights, and freedom from violence.

“The landscape of human rights funding is exceedingly complex, but initiatives like this bring into sharp relief just how vibrant and diverse the field is,” said Michael Hirschhorn, executive director of IHRFG. “The lasting value of this research—the thing that will take us beyond ‘painting landscapes’ to propelling greater engagement—comes when grantmakers are moved to contribute data, provide feedback, share findings with peers, and use this information in support of their work.”

Better data on the state of human rights funding can help grantmakers identify gaps, improve coordination between donors, facilitate more strategic grantmaking, and encourage new funders to enter the field.

“Some may be surprised to learn that many foundations who do not call themselves human rights funders are nevertheless engaged in supporting human rights work,” said Bradford K. Smith, president of the Foundation Center. “Not only does this finding help us understand the true scope of the human rights funding community, it also opens up new possibilities for foundations that want to leverage their investment through collaboration with others.”

The first research report of its kind, Advancing Human Rights provides crucial baseline numbers against which to track future trends—including the impact of new grantmakers entering the field. This multi-year partnership between the Foundation Center and IHRFG is enriched by collaboration with Ariadne (European Human Rights Funders Network) and the International Network of Women’s Funds. Such efforts align with the Foundation Center’s stated priorities to empower donors with the knowledge tools they need to be strategic and to communicate philanthropy’s contribution to making a better world.

Advancing Human Rights: The State of Global Foundation Grantmaking can be downloaded for free at the web sites of the Foundation Center and the International Human Rights Funders’ Group.

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956, the Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants—a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center’s web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 470 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

About the International Human Rights Funders Group
The International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) is a global network of donors and grantmakers committed to advancing human rights around the world through effective philanthropy. IHRFG’s overarching goal is to assist funders in strengthening the impact and strategic effectiveness of their human rights grantmaking. To achieve this goal, IHRFG aims to: cultivate thought leadership that challenges human rights grantmakers and others inside and outside of philanthropy; foster collaboration, connection and community among human rights funders; develop a funder network more truly global in participation, perspective and linkages; broaden involvement in policy changes critical to human rights funding; widen understanding of human rights in the philanthropic community and, ultimately; and increase overall funding for human rights.

One thought on “Foundation Center, IHRFG release new “Advancing Human Rights” tools for funders

  1. Pingback: New grantmaker tools focus on human rights and social change philanthropy « Philanthropy In Focus

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