Mama Cash is thrilled to have received $20 million from US-based philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. A word like “transformational” is not an exaggeration to describe this gift. It is a very special day when the work of autonomous feminist movements receives such moving and meaningful support in the form of unrestricted material resources at a scale that matches the changes that we, collectively, are achieving.
Mama Cash was created as the first international women’s fund through an act of similar individual philanthropy in 1983, when Marjan Sax, one of our founders, decided to use resources from her inheritance to support feminist activism around the world. Nearly forty years later, we see this new funding – the single largest grant from an individual we have ever received – as an expression of trust and also recognition of the decades of work by activists, staff, Board, volunteers, and supporters that has brought us this far. This gift comes at a moment of incredible momentum for feminist movements, and we are grateful to be able to put these important and timely resources at the disposal of feminist activists whose courageous and visionary work deserves – and needs – support at this level of magnitude.
Mama Cash supports groups led by those who have experienced stigma and exclusion to represent themselves because we know that self-led activism leads to deep and meaningful change. We trust grantee-partners with core, flexible, longer-term support that enables them to organise strategically and respond to new opportunities and challenges. In 2021, Mama Cash transitioned to becoming a fully participatory grantmaker – further entrusting grantmaking decisions to members of the communities we support.
This gift also comes at a time of great need. Feminist movements remain dramatically under-funded: they continue to receive a scant one percent of all gender-focused aid. Yet evidence shows that feminist movements are always significant actors in transformative and lasting change on gender justice. In 2021, Mama Cash received 1,002 eligible applications from new groups of activists, yet we were able to fund only 15 of the requests – just 1.5%. This new gift will allow us to be more responsive to feminist groups and movements by quickly and dramatically expanding our grantmaking.
Launched in 2021, our new ten-year strategy, ‘In Movement Together’, anticipates significantly expanding our support to feminist movements. This new support will enable us to move forward with our plans, sooner and faster. We will not expand into new areas of work with these resources. Rather, we will continue to do what we do well and what we know works: providing funding and accompaniment to feminist change-makers. And we will also continue to welcome and encourage more supporters to join us in this work of providing more and better resources to feminist movements.
We are delighted to see how many other women’s funds and feminist organisations were also selected by MacKenzie Scott for support. Like Mama Cash, these funders and movement building organisations have emerged from women’s rights and feminist movements around the world. We are excited to be able to collaborate with them in our joint work to support autonomous and resilient feminist movements to thrive.