In every corner of the world, courageous feminist activists are working together to build collective power, claim justice, and create, sustain, and revive ways of living that are just and fair. Launched in 2021 as part of our 2021-2030 strategic framework, In Movement Together, the Resilience Fund – our largest grantmaking programme – aims to ensure that the collective feminist activism of women, girls, and trans and intersex people is resourced, supported, and connected.
Self-led, collective activism
Mama Cash knows that lasting change comes from the collective activism of people who are articulating their own interests and needs, and demanding their rights, based on their own lived experience. The Resilience Fund provides support to feminist groups, initiatives, collectives, and organisations, as well as to women’s funds, that are founded, led, and run by people who belong to the communities whose rights they seek to advance.
Resilience Fund grantee-partners are addressing the issues that they see as important – from bodily integrity to a decent wage and safe, respectful working conditions, from climate justice to peacebuilding. These activists work to advance their agendas and to build connections across issues and borders, strengthening feminist and other social justice movements.
Flexible, long-term support
Mama Cash knows that movement building and substantive, structural change take time. Unrestricted funding and long-term support are crucial to ensure that groups are able to organise, and to take advantage of, or respond effectively to, important opportunities and changes in context.
The Resilience Fund provides flexible, core support grants, giving groups the freedom to use their funding according to their own visions, strategies, and analyses of the contexts they face. First-time annual grants are made with the intention of renewing for multiple years, and Mama Cash typically supports partners for up to ten years.
We also know that feminist activism, especially in repressive contexts, takes on many different forms. Powerful movements, especially those tackling under-addressed or contested issues, often start small. Our own history goes back to a conversation between five feminists seated around a kitchen table. The Resilience Fund gives priority to smaller and emerging groups that are doing critically important work, but have limited access to funding. Alongside of formal organisations, we are open to funding informal or unregistered groups of activists, as well as networks or coalitions. Resilience Fund grants vary in size, but the range is typically between €5,000 to €50,000 per year, with an average grant size of about €35,000. (See here for what we fund and for information about our grantmaking window.)
In addition to funding, Mama Cash provides accompaniment to all grantee-partners to support them in strengthening their organisations and increasing their power according to their own vision. Accompaniment can include both financial and non-financial resources to support partners to sharpen their skills, knowledge, and networks. The accompaniment support we provide takes into account specific organisational needs and plans as defined by the partner.
For example, Mama Cash provides accompaniment to individual groups to strengthen their organisations in areas such as strategic planning and holistic security needs, or to move through leadership transitions. We also provide accompaniment to groups to participate in issue-specific partner cohorts. Accompaniment also includes support to address funding needs, information about funding opportunities, and introductions to new donors. Finally, accompaniment supports groups to connect and collaborate with others, for instance through organising or participating in convenings to network and strategise. The goal of our accompaniment is to ensure that partners are better equipped to reach their goals, fulfil their missions, and make the changes they want to see in the world.
Activists make grants decisions through participatory grantmaking
Introduced in 2021, our participatory approach to grantmaking and accompaniment is driven by the conviction that we are wiser and stronger when we share power with the activists we support. We aim to be accountable and transparent to the movements we are part of.
Our values are embedded in the process of grantmaking itself. We recognise feminist activists as experts in their own contexts and realities. They see first-hand the opportunities and gaps. They know best the needs and priorities of their movements. Decision-making about our grants – both who receives them and how much they receive – is best made by the activists and members of the communities we seek to support.
To that end, as part of the application process, we invite Resilience Fund applicants to provide input and guidance on which issues to prioritise. Their input is then taken into account by the Community Committee (COM COM), a committee of activists responsible for making new Resilience Fund grants following a screening process conducted by Mama Cash’s staff. COM COM members are part of diverse feminist movements around the world and bring to the decision-making process a wide range of backgrounds, geographies, thematic expertise, languages, gender identities, and sexual orientations.
In early 2023, we will share the dates for our next application window.
Mama Cash sees participatory grantmaking as an ongoing process, and we are keen to learn, experiment, and develop our practice as we move forward.