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Human rights work depends on the voluntary efforts and goodwill of activists, concerned citizens, and government personnel. Big transformative ideas, however, also need an organizational infrastructure, and that infrastructure requires resources to thrive. How do human rights groups around the world mobilize the money and other inputs they need? What impacts do these methods have on the work of human rights organizations, and on their relations with governments, the general public, and others? Read on...
As local rights groups seek alternative funding sources, the closing space for civil society makes this even more imperative.
In this climate of closing space, we have an imperative to rethink the business models for protecting human rights.
Amnesty International’s India hub focuses most of its fundraising efforts on domestic contributions, facing challenges as diverse as the weather to brand recognition. Español, العربية
Becoming agents of change for women’s rights in Serbian society requires creativity in building connections and solidarity. Español
Marked as traitors by the dominant Right for relying on foreign aid, Israeli liberal NGOs need a wider base of local donors. Español
Building a culture of giving in Latin America takes creativity, persistence and a willingness to invest in people. Español
To get funding amidst intense non-profit competition in Hong Kong, human rights groups must get creative. Français
Women’s funds are gaining increasing recognition at the local and international levels as leading agents of social change. Español, Français
Despite an economic crisis, some Mongolian companies still respond to carefully constructed funding requests.
Partnering with celebrities and seeking visibility is key to mobilizing resources for the women’s movement in Mexico. Español
Can NGOs and India’s political opposition stop Modi’s civil society clampdown?
Amidst tighter donor budgets for human rights, NGOs in Bangladesh are also grappling with increasingly intrusive governments. বাংলা (Bengali)
Is “Do-It-Yourself-Aid” the answer to funding rights work? Anne-Meike Fechter describes this model, its funding and related implications.
If Israeli human rights groups are labeled fronts for foreign interests due to their funding, what does that make Israel itself? العربية עברית
India’s new Modi government trains its guns on environmental activists.
Human rights groups can survive in the current funding climate if they shift their focus towards locally driven funding resources. Español, Français
Nepal is the most open country in South Asia for LGBT rights, but even here, patriarchal biases exclude women and transgenders. Can foreign funding change this?
For too long, the African Union and its human rights bodies have depended on foreign aid. If the Union implements a radical new financing tax on airline tickets, texts and hotel stays, however, its human rights work might finally become self-sufficient. Français
The Indian state aggressively promotes foreign investment in all sectors but civil society.
NGOs working with untouchables and bonded labour face hostility from upper castes. For these groups, it’s nearly impossible to raise local funds. Without foreign funding, many would have to scale down their activities or face shutdown.
The world is watching as Brazil prepares for the World Cup and Olympics. As Northern funding for Brazilian human rights groups declines, local groups must take advantage of this moment, and new philanthropic trends, to develop new sources of financial support. Português
In the constantly shrinking space for civil society around the world, Ethiopia faces some enormous challenges in generating local support. Largely due to the country’s new CSO Proclamation, which severely restricts foreign funding of rights groups, human rights work in the country has nearly shut down. But can local donors pick up the slack?
Although the American Jewish community spends relatively little on human rights work in Israel/Palestine, they are getting serious about promoting a lasting peace in the region. العربية ,עברית
Turkey’s campaign for EU membership has revolutionized funding for its civil society, but there is still a long way to go. Türkçe
Over four decades, BRAC has become one of the largest and most effective NGOs in the world, with outstanding success in incorporating human rights into its programs and resisting untoward donor pressure. For Southern actors looking for funding and programming within their own societies, the BRAC model is particularly instructive.
The global pushback against domestic NGOs has arrived. International donors must learn to cope, but it won’t be easy. Español, Français, العربية
Kenyan officials under International Criminal Court indictment seek caps for foreign funding to local NGOs, raising the spectre of a “Beijing Consesus” for African civil society.
Nora Lester Murad describes a new alternative to international aid and domestic charity for Palestine; community directed funds. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate, funding for human rights. Español עברית العربية
Designing and planning solutions to human rights problems from thousands of miles away often produces unsustainable results. The time has come for Southern human rights actors to find funding within their own societies. A contribution from Nigeria to the openGlobalRights debate on funding for human rights. Français
Human rights groups in the global South are dependent on international funds, but those monies are dwindling for NGOs in emerging economies such as Brazil. To survive, Brazilian public interest groups must lobby for an autonomous public funding mechanism as well as new laws to incentivize private giving. Português
International aid is not ethically wrong, and local rights groups will use it for years to come. We must also mobilize domestic funds, however, by gaining a better understanding of our own policy, philanthropic, and economic environments. Français
Donations by ordinary citizens to India’s newest political party, the AAP, prove that Indians can and will donate to important causes. Indian rights groups can tap in to this generosity, but only if they satisfy the public’s demand for political change and good governance.
If international funding compromises the work of domestic human rights groups, what should international donors do? It is admirable for local groups to refuse international aid on principle, but the ethical implications for global human rights funders are complex.
Human rights NGOs do not necessarily need to be grassroots social movements. But issues of dependence on foreign funding and corruption that accompany 'professionalization' are not unique to human rights organizations. العربية
Aid to Palestine is essentially palliative, intended to maintain a status quo. From that vantage point, aid seems to be remarkably complicit with continued Israeli occupation. How can funders and recipients break the cycle?
Dependence on institutional funding has depoliticized, monetized and corrupted much of the human rights work in India. While state-control of human rights funds is objectionable, rights movements will be durable and effective only when independent of big sponsors. A response to Ananth Guruswamy, Ravi Nair and James Ron and Archana Pandya. हिंदी.
To fight the chilling effect created by new laws on foreign funding, Indian human rights NGOs need to develop support for funding among citizens. Though difficult, in the long run groups that have public legitimacy will be more difficult for governments to control and suppress.
Human rights advocates are loathe to accept corporate funding, even in pursuit of worthy initiatives. But companies facing human rights challenges are eager for credible NGO guidance and ready to finance it. How can these corporate funds be tapped to support watchdogs without compromising their independence?
Brazil’s recent economic growth – driven by multinational corporations and supported by the government – is a source of human rights violations and perpetuates social inequality. So why are human rights funders pulling out?
Ultra-nationalist political parties are yet again trying to crack down on dissenting Israeli NGOs. This is the latest in a longer series of efforts to fundamentally re-define Israel as the “state of the Jews,” rather than a state of all its citizens.
In October Kenya introduced legislation capping foreign funding to NGOs and requiring that money be channeled through a government body. Though narrowly defeated, the law looked to be a death-knell for a vibrant civil society sector. But Kenya – and the region – is not out of the woods yet. Français
The government often accuses Turkey’s human rights groups of doing the work of “foreign powers,” which scares off local donors. But when rights groups seek foreign funding, they get attacked for taking “imperialist money.” Türkçe
A paradigm shift in funding from human rights toward 'investments' and 'business solutions' is threatening women’s rights organizing and the rights-based approach to development. We need greater understanding of these new trends and engagement with new players.
The rights based approach to development is increasingly popular, but more rights-based money isn’t the answer to the world’s ills. Rights-based practitioners will have to do a better job of evaluating their own efforts, helping local communities organize, and overcoming disincentives to collaboration.
The Indian government uses the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to block global support to NGOs that question the state. The FCRA must go, but meanwhile, civil society bodies must seek local support. A response to Ravi Nair and James Ron and Archana Pandya.
Using the first-ever data-driven effort to track global human rights funding, representatives from two major global funding networks based in the U.S. and Mexico respond to James Ron on the current trends and opportunities of grants for human rights initiatives around the world. Español, العربية, Português
Even as China grows in wealth, it has yet to fully develop a culture of philanthropy – one that is free and clear of government influence and able to effect real change in human rights. Large donors and Western organizations would do well to pay attention. 中国语文
There is a perverse see-saw effect in place within the BRICS countries. In Brazil, as the government grows in prominence and companies become more global and voracious, human rights NGOs face a sustainability crisis and find their budgets shrinking. Are these two developments connected? Português, Español
Israel’s human rights organisations depend on foreign funding to defend the rights of the Palestinians. But as the Middle East is increasingly torn by new conflicts, foreign funding may shift to wider regional and global rights issues. العربية ,עברית
It’s time for a paradigm shift in the Arab region, where local human rights groups are negatively perceived and donors still resist supporting right based initiatives. Español, العربية, French
Too few foundations support human rights in the Global South, and many of those northern funders who do support rights continue to make old mistakes. There are new players in unexpected places, however, who offer promising examples. Español, Français, Português, العربية
Despite enjoying a fair bit of local support, local human rights organizations (LHROs) in the Global South are still largely dependent on foreign funds. To better tap into local resource pools, LHROs will have to rethink their funding strategies, and perhaps reconsider some of their activities. Türkçe, Español, Português, Français, עברית ,العربية
When the EU awarded a large grant to Alice Nkom for her work defending gay people in Cameroon it was attacked for encouraging illegal activity. Here Nkom describes the reality of trying to find funds for rights work that the government – and most people in Cameroon - deplore. Español, Français, العربية
Brazil’s economic success has led to foreign funders pulling the plug on human rights groups but a major education campaign is needed before Brazilian donors will take their place. Español, Português, العربية
One of the country’s most informed human rights experts explains how India blocks foreign funding for rights work it doesn’t like. Philanthropists avoid supporting work that will anger the state so the only organizations able to tackle the most sensitive rights issues are those funded by small contributions from ordinary citizens. हिंदी, العربية, Español.
The work of human rights organisations in the occupied Palestinian territories can never end abuses. Only a political solution that ends the Israeli occupation can do that. In the meantime, donors supporting Palestinian human rights work should reduce their bureaucratic demands. עברית ,العربية, Türkçe, Español
The human rights movement, the democracy-promotion community, and development donors have common goals, but they have not always seen themselves as allies. It is quite possible that the three groupings have found more common ground around the concept of a “rights-based approach” to development. Français, العربية, Español.
Human rights work depends on the voluntary efforts of activists, concerned citizens, and government personnel. Big transformative ideas, however, also require organizational infrastructures, and these require resources to thrive.
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