New human rights philanthropy report shows encouraging trends, also reveals increased disparities in 2019

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2022 report from Candid and Human Rights Funders Network shows that there is room for growth

Advancing Human Rights report cover
Advancing Human Rights reveals insights from the most up-to-date, comprehensive data available for global human rights philanthropy.

Candid and Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN) today released Advancing Human Rights: Annual Review of Global Foundation Grantmaking 2019 Key Findings. The annual report reveals insights from the most up-to-date, comprehensive data available for global human rights philanthropy.

This year’s analysis found that in 2019, 761 funders made over 26,000 human rights grants totaling $4.1 billion. The report notes: “Human rights funding is a fraction of what’s needed – and what’s possible.”

Advancing Human Rights reported on several global funding trends. Key findings include:

  • Human rights funding continues to increase, but with regional funding disparities. Over the past decade, we have seen sustained yet diminishing growth in human rights grant dollars. The report documents a 10% increase from 2018 and a 242% increase over the past ten years. At the same time, there are considerable regional disparities, with grants in North America growing at a greater rate than other regions. In Sub-Saharan Africa, funding declined for a second year in a row, and was stagnant the year before that.
  • Funding increased for six of nine populations. Among funders who shared grants data in 2018 and 2019, support for racial and ethnic groups grew the most. Nearly three out of four funders that fund with a racial or ethnic lens increased their spending. Likewise, persons with disabilities, which saw a decrease in 2018, increased in 2019 by 38%. Funding decreased for three groups: Indigenous peoples, human rights defenders, and children and youth, after growth in each of these areas the previous year.
  • The majority of human rights grants focus on one population. Seventy-two percent of the human rights grants awarded in 2019 either didn’t mention any populations or named just one. Only 28% were intended to benefit more than one population and just 7% reference three or more – for example women of color who identify as LBTQI. This suggests that the bulk of human rights funding is failing to consider intersectional identities or support critical cross-movement work.
  • Funding from foundations in the Global South and East is increasing. While the proportion of funding that is controlled by Global South and East funders continues to hover at around 1% of total human rights grant dollars, a notable three fourths of these foundations increased their grantmaking since the previous year. Global South and East funders represent a vital source of resourcing for locally-led initiations, with 93% of grants by these funders staying within these regions.
  • Trust remains an issue. We continue to see more restricted, less direct funding for grants to the Global South and East. Groups that are awarded human rights grants in North America are five times more likely to receive direct, flexible support than those in Sub-Saharan Africa and seven times more likely than groups in the Caribbean.

Human Rights Funders Network Executive Director Kellea Miller said, “We’re encouraged that human rights philanthropy continues to grow. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that human right grants only make up 2–8% of total foundation funding each year. We hope this report helps funders see the potential to bring more resources to the field. We also hope it helps foundations address the global imbalance in resourcing, increase direct, flexible funding, and adapt an intersectional approach to giving.”

Advancing Human Rights: Annual Review of Global Foundation Grantmaking 2019 Key Findings is available at doi.org/10/gq4ncm. Visit humanrightsfunding.org to access additional resources and learn more about human rights funding.

About Candid
Candid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides the most comprehensive data and insights about the social sector. Every year, millions of nonprofits spend trillions of dollars around the world. Candid finds out where that money comes from, where it goes, and why it matters. Candid was formed in 2019 when GuideStar and Foundation Center merged. Candid combined GuideStar’s tools on nonprofits and Foundation Center’s tools on foundations with new resources to offer more comprehensive, real-time information about the social sector. Find out more at candid.org and @CandidDotOrg on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

About Human Rights Funders Network
Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN) is a network of funders from the Global South, East, and North dedicated to resourcing human rights actions around the world. For nearly 30 years, HRFN has brought funders together to collaborate, strategize, and strengthen the field of human rights philanthropy. Since our inception, our community has grown into a global network of almost 450 institutions across 70 countries. We are committed to advancing human rights through “open philanthropy,” an approach and ideal through which resources are distributed ethically in a way that is abundant, justice-centered, open in knowledge and power, and informed by movements. Find out more at hrfn.org and @hrfunders on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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