25 Years of Impact


Since its founding, Global Fund has invested more than $110 million in support of 4,600 women’s groups across 175 countries, fulfilling the principle of getting core funding directly into the hands of women-led groups. We enlisted the services of Stanford University and SVT Group to measure the impact of this principle and the primary Global Fund strategies to Seed, Strengthen and Sustain women’s groups:

  1. To transform philanthropy through resources – particularly general support—to seed women’s groups
  2. To invest resources to strengthen the capacity of women’s groups
  3. To support women’s groups to sustain their work and base

Read the full report conducted by Karina Kloos (Stanford University and SVT Group) and Sara Olsen (SVT Group).

Strategic Impact

Researchers (Kloos and Olsen) analyzed Global Fund impact by asking three powerful questions.


Did Global Fund seed new women’s organizations and help to transform women’s philanthropy?

The researchers concluded that Global Fund has made meaningful contributions in this area. Global Fund was the first institutional funder to more than 700 organizations and a key early funder for hundreds more. It adhered to its core beliefs of trusting and listening to grant partners and providing flexible funding. Specific efforts to reach girls and women who are among the most marginalized and rarely funded and to seed and grow Women’s Funds are further indicators of Global Fund’s successful efforts to transform philanthropy.

Today, there are more women’s organizations, more money going to women’s organizations, and more sources of funding than in 1987. For example, Global Fund grant partners reported a mean of 1.5 funding sources in 1987 as compared with 4.5 now (close to a comparable grant-making industry benchmark of 5.2 sources for grant partners globally).


Did Global Fund for Women strengthen the capacity of women’s organizations?

The researchers found mixed evidence of Global Fund impact in strengthening grant partners’ capacities. The high number of one-time grant partners (40%), revealed one limitation of Global Fund’s ability to strengthen women’s organizations. The message of “first” and “early” funder has been so persistent that organizations sometimes do not know they are eligible for further funding. Furthermore, turnover in Global Fund staff creates a challenge to maintain continuous communication that makes renewal requests possible.

Nevertheless, flexible, unrestricted core funds provided by Global Fund are demonstrated to support organizational capacity. These funds have been especially essential to organizations in conflict areas such as the DRC, Colombia, former Yugoslavia, and others, as noted by grant partners. Many grant partners have expressed interest in further training and convening, particularly with other local Global Fund grant partners.


Did Global Fund help to sustain and link women’s organizations and mobilize women’s social movements?

The researchers cited numerous examples that clearly demonstrate Global Fund’s contribution to movement building. It has provided funding—roughly 15% of its budget—specifically in support of women’s participation in key forums where women’s groups develop new relationships and share new knowledge.

Furthermore, they found substantial evidence that Global Fund has contributed to the fundamental conditions of movement building as defined by social movement scholars. For instance, Global Fund has supported women’s groups to change laws, or introduce new laws in relation to ending gender based violence, in 25 countries that now provide protection for over 1.05 billion women and girls. Over 25 years, Global Fund has played a notable role in sustaining, linking, and/or mobilizing the following movements: Gender-Based Violence; Reproductive Rights; LGBTI Rights; Domestic Worker Rights; Ending Sex Trafficking; Disability Rights; the Rights of Sex Workers; Indigenous and Rural Women’s Rights; and Anti-war/militarism. It has funded women’s organizations that provide direct empowerment on behalf of these populations and issues. Further, Global Fund has supported campaigns and advocacy efforts to bring about, modify, and/or ratify policies and laws. Notably, Global Fund has supported women’s rights organizations that are engaged in a political struggle to oppose conservative/religious/cultural backlash against advances in reproductive justice.

In seeking answers to these questions, Global Fund identified opportunities to increase its impact. As a result, funding will be invested in strong, customized portfolios across regions and issue-areas. The goal: to INNOVATE, STRENGTHEN and AMPLIFY women’s organizations that achieve transformative change and widespread gender equality.

Measuring Impact and Change

Are Global Fund grant partners achieving real outcomes for women and girls? To answer this question, Global Fund adopted a change matrix, which identifies four areas in which change must occur in order for it to be transformative and lasting: formal and informal, individual and systemic.

change matrix showing four axes (formal, informal, individual, systemic) and four types of change (awareness, access to resources & services, adaptation of laws and policies, and shifts in socio-cultural norms, beliefs, and practices)

The four areas are fluid and interrelated. For example, laws against gender-based violence (i.e., formal systemic change) alone do not end violence. Change is also needed in social norms, individual attitudes and behaviors, and access to resources like counseling. But laws can influence individual behavior and the changing social norms create the political will to change laws.

This change matrix will inform the work of Global Fund and grant partners and will become a key tool to establish metrics and measure impact.

Call to Action

Global Fund and others have built a much stronger network of women’s organizations working to innovate, strengthen and amplify social justice for the world’s women and girls. As Global Fund builds on this progress in pursuit of its vision and mission, the researchers provided the following recommendations:

  1. Identify Boundaries. Global Fund must determine priorities. The researchers suggested more support for multiyear grants, direct capacity building with grant partners, and more convenings among grant partners. Once established, these priorities must be clearly communicated to key stakeholders to align both grant partners and key funders around the identity and priorities of the organization.
  2. Set Targets. The change matrix has been adopted; it will help shape Global Fund’s framework for learning, evaluation and impact. This will lead to specific strategies and measurable impact, both for Global Fund and its grant partners.
  3. Facilitate Communication. Global Fund must define the specific questions to be answered when it evaluates its grant-making. This will inform what data needs to be collected from grant partners and also what actions Global Fund can take to ensure grant partners are able to gain from this information.
  4. Integrate Findings. There have been extensive efforts to track and learn from Global Fund activities and those of its grant partners. Global Fund is well positioned to do much more to learn about and evaluate its specific, identifiable impact by utilizing, integrating, and improving upon the collection and analysis of data that demonstrate impact.

Our 25th Anniversary

Flip through our interactive timeline showcasing our 25-year history alongside major world events, and download our anniversary book, Human Right.

TIMELINE: Explore 25 years of women's movements
BOOK: Reflections from the past, visions of the future

GIVE HOPE. Donate now to help women and girls learn.

What does equality mean to you?

Connect with us

facebook twitter youtube google+ pinterestinstagram