Activism is hard work. Sustaining this kind of work in the long term requires more than just money, vision and hard work. Activists groups also need to meet each other, share their experiences and organise with others of like mind. Sometimes they also need partners who will ask the questions that will help them focus their strategies or use their resources more efficiently.
Accompaniment is the name that Mama Cash has given to the non-financial support we provide to our grantees. Accompaniment means we are there for them in ways that go far beyond simply providing money.
In providing accompaniment support, Mama Cash collaborates closely with grantees to help them think strategically about their organisational development needs and to develop their annual work plans. This includes addressing needs related to safety and security, advocacy, fundraising capacity and communications.
Accompaniment also means recognising grantees’ own leadership and expertise. Our grantees have much to teach and learn, but they often have few allies or opportunities for the exchange of ideas. That’s why Mama Cash facilitates contact between grantees , which fosters learning, sharing and action. Similarly, we work to introduce grantee partners to other potential funders
This type of support assists our grantees in their efforts to grow and become more sustainable. It also ensures that the impact of their work is felt beyond their immediate constituencies.
Executive Director Nicky McIntyre shares why accompaniment is a cornerstone of Mama Cash’s programmatic work and what accompaniment means in practice
Building a movement
In our accompaniment and grantmaking work, Mama Cash places a strong emphasis on strengthening feminist and women’s rights movements. Here, as in our other work, we are committed to supporting inclusiveness. Mama Cash firmly believes that a diversity of voices need to be heard and included.
Mama Cash ensures that grantees have the resources to attend meetings where they have the opportunity to influence the setting of agendas in women’s and other social movements. We work to open doors for our grantees to spaces where they can speak directly with donors and philanthropists.
“[Mama Cash] helped us intervene and participate in feminist spaces. These spaces are extremely important for us. They help us link up with feminist organisations, understand problems from another perspective, insert ourselves into their work plans, and get our issues on the agenda.” – Representatives from Mujeres del Sur, a Peruvian sex workers’ organisation
Together with our grantees, Mama Cash also organises convenings that address shared themes and challenges. These foster a sense of community by allowing grantees to share strategies and lessons they’ve learned and to build alliances.
In 2012, Mama Cash launched a Strategic Partnerships grantmaking portfolio. This portfolio is designed to support movement building. We do this by funding trusted – often larger – organisations who then provide capacity building support to our grantees across our other thematic portfolios.
“We are only a handful of individuals, we are based in the Netherlands, and we don’t have skills in all the areas in which our grantees might need further development, as some of them can be quite technical. The Strategic Partnerships portfolio allows us to work together with groups that have key skills to share with our grantees, skills that we are not in a position to provide directly.” – Alejandra Sardá-Chandiramani, Senior Programme Officer of Mama Cash’s Women’s Funds Portfolio
By strengthening their own movements – and by working to expand the agendas of other social movements – Mama Cash’s grantees are raising their voices together. They are ensuring that gender equality outcomes also include the priorities of women, girls, and trans people who have traditionally been excluded or overlooked.