Noli Vega
Communications Associate
Foundation Center
(888) 356-0354 ext. 701

Sarah Tansey
Program Manager, Research and Policy
International Human Rights Funders Group
(646) 381-7582

New York, NY — July 19, 2016. The 2016 edition of Advancing Human Rights: Update on Global Foundation Grantmaking provides a more comprehensive view of the human rights funding landscape than ever before. Released today by the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) and Foundation Center, the report analyzes 20,300 grants to 12,262 organizations worldwide in 2013. In total, 803 funders awarded $2.3 billion in funding for human rights — a 23 percent increase in giving between 2012 and 2013 among a consistent subset of funders.

For the first time, the research examines bilateral and multilateral funding using data compiled from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Creditor Reporting System. Researchers identified 13,721 aid disbursements for human rights in 2013, totaling $3.7 billion. Among the top donors of human rights aid, Sweden led with 14 percent of total giving, followed by the United States (12 percent) and European Union Institutions and Norway (both 11 percent). Afghanistan, Rwanda, Colombia, and Indonesia were top recipients of human rights-related disbursements, each receiving over $80 million. The report’s approach to illustrating these data was years in the making and is informed by considerable input from multiple stakeholders, including advisors, funders, and experts at OECD and elsewhere.

Also for the first time, foundation giving has been broken out by strategy to illustrate approaches funded in the human rights space. This new lens on the data highlights 11 strategies supported by human rights grantmaking, including:

  • Advocacy, systems reform, and implementation (27 percent)
  • Capacity-building and technical assistance (15 percent)
  • Research and documentation (13 percent)

By giving funders and advocates a broader perspective of human rights philanthropy, these new data put them in a better position to make informed decisions that strengthen the field. “From Brussels to Cape Town, the philanthropic world is using this knowledge to inform its work,” said Mona Chun, executive director of International Human Rights Funders Group. “Whether examining the funding landscape for strategic litigation, exploring the intersection of women’s rights and rule-of-law, or advocating with government actors to increase their rights funding, grantmakers have used this research to find partners, understand cross-cutting themes, and be more strategic in their work.”

Advancing Human Rights also explores grantmaking by issue, population, and regional focus. Among the issue areas it analyzes, equality rights and freedom from discrimination benefited from the largest share of funding (15 percent). By population, women and girls were a stated focus of 21 percent of funding, followed by children and youth (19 percent), and migrants and refugees (11 percent).

The research includes grantmaking data from funders spanning 46 countries. Of the top 20 human rights funders by number of grants, ten are located outside of the United States. The three largest human rights funders by grant dollars were Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation, and Nationale Postcode Loterij (Netherlands), providing over $250 million each.

The 2016 report is the fourth in an annual series produced jointly by Foundation Center and IHRFG as part of a multi-year effort to track the evolving state of global human rights funding and to create a set of dynamic, interactive research tools to help human rights funders and advocates increase their effectiveness. The first edition of this research was launched in 2013, providing important baseline data to enable tracking trends in human rights funding for years to come.

“Foundation Center’s partnership with IHRFG on Advancing Human Rights: Knowledge Tools for Funders is an impressive contribution not only to knowledge sharing within the human rights field, but also for the world of global grantmaking,” said Lawrence T. McGill, vice president for knowledge services at Foundation Center. “The initiative has generated an unprecedented amount of international grants data from the philanthropic sector. We’re proud to work together with IHRFG to advance funding transparency and extend the knowledge base for human rights, while also balancing these ideals with security and respect for grantee safety.”

In addition to the report, the latest data have been added to the interactive Advancing Human Rights website, which enables funders, activists, researchers, academics, and others interested in human rights funding to explore giving by issue, population, strategy, and region. Looking ahead, the partners plan to release an analysis of giving trends over a five-year period.

The partnership between Foundation Center and IHRFG is strengthened by collaboration with Ariadne - European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights and Prospera – the International Network of Women's Funds. The project is also part of Foundation Center's suite of Knowledge Services, which blends information, analysis, and technology to help funders and others in the social sector make strategic decisions and improve their practice. The Advancing Human Rights initiative is supported by the Ford Foundation, Oak Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Advancing Human Rights: Update on Global Foundation Grantmaking can be downloaded for free at the Advancing Human Rights website, where visitors can also interact with the data.


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About Foundation Center
Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit Foundation Center's website each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

About the International Human Rights Funders Group
The International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) is a global network of donors and grantmakers committed to advancing human rights around the world through effective philanthropy. IHRFG's overarching goal is to assist funders in strengthening the impact and strategic effectiveness of their human rights grantmaking. To achieve this goal, IHRFG aims to: cultivate thought leadership on strategic human rights grantmaking and future directions for the human rights movement; build stronger and expanded learning, peer education, and community among funders; develop a funder network more truly global in participation, perspective and linkages; broaden opportunities for IHRFG members to engage in key efforts to shape relevant public policies; widen understanding of human rights in the philanthropic community; and, ultimately, expand overall funding for human rights. For more information, please visit or call (646) 381-7580.