Women’s Funds

Sustainable, long-term power shifts can’t be created alone. We work closely with other women’s funds—national and regional organizations that also make local grants to women’s rights groups.

What are women’s funds? 

A women’s fund is a philanthropic organization governed by women, whose primary purpose is to provide financial support to women-led organizations that advance the leadership and empowerment of women and girls. Women’s funds develop and expand local philanthropy for women’s rights and women’s organizations. Women’s funds are distinct from women’s organizations in that their primary purpose is to mobilize resources to distribute to women’s organizations and movements, rather than providing direct services or programs.

What is the role of women’s funds?

The primary role of women’s funds is to raise funds and distribute them to women’s organizations and movements. Women’s funds also influence the broader philanthropic field to provide resources to supporting women’s human rights. Because women’s funds are designed specifically to mobilize resources, and because they have experience in making strategic grants and providing capacity building support to grassroots organizations, they play a critical role in ensuring the survival and growth of grassroots women’s groups and movements. Women’s funds aim to address the root causes of gender inequality through a combination of fundraising, grantmaking, resource mobilization, and capacity building.

What makes women’s funds different from other donors?

Compared with other donors, women’s funds are particularly well-positioned to engage with, support, and strengthen women’s organizations, particularly smaller or harder-to-reach organizations working with the most marginalized populations, like widows, LBTQI groups, and indigenous women. They have strong local knowledge, long ties with women’s organizations at the grassroots level, and accessible grantmaking approaches. Women’s funds are willing to fund difficult or emerging issues that more mainstream donors may shy away from.

Why do we prioritize support to women’s funds?

Women’s funds are a strategic priority for Global Fund for Women’s movement building work, for their role in resourcing and building capacity of women’s organizations. Women’s funds play a powerful role in strengthening movements by reaching smaller and emerging local groups; providing critical training and resources; and raising money from local donors. Supporting women’s funds and partnering with them to influence the field of philanthropy expands the resources available for women’s rights and strengthens connections across global and local partners.

From our earliest years, Global Fund for Women has viewed its role as both to fund emerging women’s organizations and the movements they comprise, and specifically to support the strength and sustainability of other women’s funds. Over our more than 30-year history, Global Fund for Women has provided critical seeding and strengthening grants totaling $8.3 million to 35 women’s funds in 27 countries—in some cases providing the first grants to now thriving regional women’s funds, including Semillas in Mexico and TEWA in Nepal.

How has our relationship with women’s funds evolved over time?

Particularly over the past decade, Global Fund for Women has contributed significantly to the development of the women’s funding movement, playing an active and intentional role in financing and building the field of women’s funds. In addition to providing grant support, we have worked increasingly closely with women’s funds to build their capacity by providing opportunities for them to learn from Global Fund for Women and other national and regional women’s funds. As part of our strategic engagement with women’s funds, we have awarded grants in support of annual regional and global women’s funds meetings, prioritized peer relationships with women’s funds to develop complementary grant-making strategies, collaborated to identify gaps in women’s organizing, and jointly addressed capacity building issues in the women’s movement by co-hosting national and regional grantee convenings.