A recent Alliance magazine event on feminist philanthropy saw an excellent panel discuss a broad range of fascinating questions, such as: What is feminist philanthropy? How does it differ from purely funding women and girls? What role do women’s funds play? And how can we achieve gender equality in the philanthropy sector? Here are some key highlights of what we took away from the discussion.

How to fund?
A topic that emerged strongly throughout the conversation was the issue of how to fund movements; and in particular the need for funders to understand what they fund. A recent study on policy change around tackling domestic violence in 70 countries, for instance, showed that feminist movements are driving gender equality. However, while providing long-term funding for in-country feminist movements seems to be a successful approach, there is currently little money from funders going to feminists in the global south. There were also wider lessons around the effect on funding approaches when choosing to apply a feminist lens to philanthropy.

Power imbalances
There can also be power imbalances in the way measurement is designed. Often the impact reporting framework is something that has been decided upfront by organisations from the global north, and quite often driven by white men, so there is a real danger of imposing templates and indicators onto the challenges faced by women in global south that do not reflect their real needs and priorities.

There may be related issues when it comes to ensuring that those on the ground have a voice, and that their contribution is recognised and genuinely valued. When funders decide to bring in those doing the work on the ground to understand the landscape, how can they do this without draining resources from those movements (e.g. because talking to funders can take away capacity)? What can funders do to educate themselves collectively more on an issue? Should the educational labour fall on feminist actors to continue long-standing efforts to render the idea of feminism palatable and sufficiently depoliticised – or does there need to be a role for male allies in taking on the task of educating their peers in the grant making space?

Read the full article about feminist philanthropy by Daniel Ferrell-Schweppenstedde and Cleodie Rickard at Alliance Magazine.