In 2018, Mama Cash embarked on a process to take a variety of steps toward changing the way we operationalise and adjust our approach to our current women’s fund strategy. Based on valuable feedback we got from our sister women’s funds and the broader feminist philanthropic community, as well as assessing our own strengths and what we are best positioned to do, we narrowed down our work with and for women’s funds to three core areas of work:
1. Mobilising Resources for Women’s Funds
Mama Cash mobilises resources to continue to provide core flexible financial support to new and existing women’s funds through our grantmaking s for a maximum of 10 years. The women’s funds that Mama Cash supports must meet the following revised criteria to be considered for funding. Women’s funds must be:
- Self-led: women’s funds must be led by the populations they seek to support. Those directly involved in/affected by the issues the fund is trying to address must be part of the fund’s leadership and decision-making;
- Feminist: women’s funds primary mission must be to support women’s, girls’, trans and intersex people’s in their efforts to uphold their rights. Women’s funds must also have a vision and strategy to challenge and transform gendered power structures;
- Autonomous: a women’s fund is not a programme of a larger entity and has independent decision making over their grants and resource mobilisation, or alternatively have concrete plans to become autonomous in the short to medium term;
- Involved in both mobilising resources and grantmaking: women’s funds raise funds to provide grants and support to groups, collectives, and individuals that are organising to defend and advance women’s, girls, trans and intersex people’s rights.
2. Influencing Donor Community (IDC) with and for women’s funds
As part of our women’s funds strategy we work to influence the donor community to mobilise more and better money for an autonomous, resilient, diverse, and inclusive feminist funding ecosystem. We do this by:
- Doing research in collaboration with other women’s funds to generate knowledge about the critical role women’s funds play within the donor community as well as highlight issues of mutual expertise
- Inviting women’s funds to donor spaces and/or holding joint events to make our case
- Identifying philanthropic or governmental donor spaces where there is either no presence of women’s funds or limited resources aimed at supporting the feminist movement and support the collective organising to develop strategies to influence
3. Solidarity Funding by Women’s Funds for Women’s Funds
We recognise that our support must go beyond core flexible grants to women’s funds. At Mama Cash we have a long history of supporting women’s funds with both financial and non-financial support to help strengthen their internal structures and enhance their knowledge to be able to better serve the feminist movement globally.
- As we acknowledge that money is power, in 2019 Mama Cash made the strategic decision to share power in the form of a new fund called the Solidarity Fund. This additional financial support is made to support the needs of women’s funds and incorporate participatory grantmaking as a more equitable, transparent, and accountable form of grantmaking which also seeks to empower women’s funds to make the decisions that are best for our peers and thus strengthen the feminist funding ecosystem.
In the spirit of radical trust and co-creation with women’s funds for women’s funds, the Solidarity Fund is participatory from its design to the approval of grants. This new participatory approach allows us to collaborate in a new and transparent way among sister women’s funds and will fill in gaps and needs identified by women’s funds themselves.