Grantmaking Practice / Human Rights Issue / Knowledge Tools

Advancing Human Rights: A ‘Flip’ Chat With Mona Chun, Deputy Director, IHRFG

By Regina Mahone, Staff Writer, Philanthropy News Digest — Cross-posted from the Foundation Center‘s PhilanTopic blog-

(The video below was recorded as part of the Foundation Center’s “Flip” chat series of conversations with thought leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. You can check out other videos in the series here, including a previous chat with Harish Bhandari, director of digital engagement and innovation at the Robin Hood Foundation.)

Since 2012, the Foundation Center has been working with the International Human Rights Funders Group to develop a framework for assessing the state of human rights grantmaking around the globe. The two organizations recently released some key findings (12 pages, PDF) of their research based on data collected from IHRFG, Ariadne, and the International Network of Women’s Funds and an analysis of more than seven hundred funders representing twenty-nine countries.

Among other things, the analysis found that in 2010 the United States accounted for the largest number of human rights funders — which may be a reflection of the ability to draw upon a wealth of data on U.S.-based philanthropy through the Foundation Center’s database and the lack of a similar resource outside of the U.S. — followed by Western Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.

The analysis also found that the Ford Foundation was the largest funder of human rights by grant dollars ($159.5 million), while the Open Society Foundations reported the largest number of human rights grants (1,248); that human rights funders awarded a total of $1.2 billion in 2010; and that the largest share (69 percent) of that funding went to U.S.-based organizations, many of which work in other countries, regions, and/or at the global level.

While the full report won’t be released until June, PND recently had a chance to chat with IHRFG deputy director Mona Chun about this important work. During our sit-down, Chun discussed the biggest challenge and opportunity for international human rights funders and shared what she and her colleagues have learned from the research project with the Foundation Center.

What do you think? What else should foundations and individual philanthropists be doing to advance human rights globally? And what advice would you give organizations working in the field? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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