We are all witnessing in real time the gendered effects of COVID-19 and the ensuing economic crisis, called by many the first female recession. We’re seeing increased domestic violence, the shutdown of essential services for women, including abortion, austerity measures that reduce public funding to programs and services directed at women, and an already depleted funding environment for women’s funds and feminist organizations. The organizations best positioned to respond to these wide-ranging issues and provide support are often women’s funds—donor organizations like the African Women’s Development Fund and Fondo Semillas that provide financial support and accompaniment to advance the human rights and opportunities of women, girls, and LGBTQI people in countries around the world.

Women’s funds have a long track record of knowing where and more importantly how to support feminist movements because they are part of the communities they support and can respond quickly to what is needed most. It’s why I am particularly proud of being part of the design and launch of the Women’s Funds Collaborative, a $20 million effort to strengthen women’s funds internationally. The collaborative aims to strengthen the ecosystem of women’s funds by supporting individual funds and women’s funds as a collective. In doing so, we hope they are able to deepen investments in their own organizational strengths and capacity to respond to the needs of the feminist movements they are a part of. More importantly, it is a new way for women’s funds and private philanthropy to collaborate as peers.

We designed and launched the collaborative with four private foundations and women’s funds. The process highlighted important lessons for me, and I hope for others, about ways to support feminist movement-building, particularly in this moment:

  1. Listen to those with the most knowledge and experience.
  2. Share responsibilities.
  3. Participatory governance takes patience, but there is a payoff.
  4. Be transparent.
  5. Solidarity is key to feminist philanthropy.
  6. Courage and candor always.
  7. People matter.

Read the full article about feminist philanthropy by Alfonsina Peñaloza at Hewlett Foundation.