November 3, 2016

Inside Mama Cash


This week: Sunny Daly, officer for philanthropic partnerships: “Feminist activists are uncomfortable around money and discussions involving money."

Who are the people behind Mama Cash? What makes our organisation tick? As a new member of the team, I decided to go out and explore. Read about the people and what they do at Mama Cash in these regular peeks behind the scenes.

How did you end up working for Mama Cash?

“Once I got out of college, I knew from the outset I wanted to do something to promote women’s rights. I didn’t have an angle about what I could do precisely.”

She started working in development, fundraising for the National Council for Research on Women and then at the Ms. Foundation in New York, a women’s fund focused within the US. There she built up her network and learned of Mama Cash. But in the end, what brought her here was mostly luck, and a bit of love:

“My partner and I went to Amsterdam on our honeymoon, and loved the city. That’s when we started looking for work in the Netherlands, and Mama Cash was the perfect fit”.

What is the biggest part of your job as a fundraiser?

“Writing. It gets very academic sometimes, as I do a lot of research to put together a good proposal. Besides writing, I am constantly gathering information from potential donors: which foundations or governments are funding what projects? What is their objective?”

“Then, once I start writing proposals or reports, I hunt for more information from colleagues here at Mama Cash. I have to make sure that the information that I provide is up-to-date which requires a lot of coordination with the rest of the staff.”

What do you like most about the work that you do?

“One of the best things about working here is learning about the work of our grantee partners and the many issues they work on.”

Sunny enjoys the wide lens that fundraising gives her: “I don’t just write about one grantee partner, or one country; my job is to write with a landscape view so that donors get the big picture of what we do, and the best representation of all that we have to offer. Of course, this means I am often far removed from the activism we fund, which I miss.”

One thing that I find really amazing is the Red Umbrella Fund. It’s so honest and true to itself.


If this is something you regret sometimes, can you also elaborate on what you think is the most difficult part of your work at Mama Cash?

“Many feminist activists are uncomfortable with discussions involving money. I think we are sometimes unwilling to admit that we need it to achieve our goals..” It feels like fundraising is not considered proper activism because we have to be pragmatic in how we approach donors and sometimes speak another language.”

She also explained the discussions that occur within the Mama Cash team from time to time: “We have debates about what kind of language we can employ to appeal to donors, without compromising what we stand for.”

What do you think?

“I believe fundraising is necessary. It is very hard – but not impossible – to achieve your goals without it.” Then, laughing: “Then there are some people who simply think fundraising is boring. Which I don’t agree with, obviously!”

“It is helpful to keep in mind that money is critical to building a sustainable social justice infrastructure. To emphasise how important fundraising is, we need to remember this long-term perspective.”

Women have the right to know about their own bodies, and to do whatever they want with them.


At Mama Cash we are constantly exposed to all sorts of activism and activities. What is the most inspiring or exciting thing that you’ve encountered at MC?

“I find the Red Umbrella Fund really impressive. It’s so honest and true to itself, especially its participatory nature. And in those four years since it was founded, it has grown so much, and already achieved so much.”

“Then of course, I hear stories of the work that Mama Cash does or supports, and it just makes me proud that we are affiliated with so many creative groups of people.”

Then, the final million-dollar question: What is the change you’re hoping to contribute to?

“My personal drive is about reproductive and abortion rights, specifically sexual and sexuality education, and I don’t just mean birth control, but rather, how amazing we are. I just had a baby and marvelled at myself every day. People have the right to know about their own bodies, and to do whatever they want with them. That’s part of why I wanted to leave the US debate: the conversation there is just so stupid. This awareness and appreciation feels very fundamental to me.”

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