According to a report released this month, LGBT issues received 6 percent of all human rights funding globally. The report analyzed 12,000 human rights grants from 703 funders to more than 6,800 organizations worldwide. The report identified 1.2 Billion dollars in human rights grantmaking worldwide by private foundations, $72.6 million of which was sent to organizations and projects advocating for the human rights of LGBT people.
This is the first data-based study of global human rights grantmaking. As with any quantitative study, it is important to understand what this is and what this is not. The Foundation Center, in partnership with the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) , gathered and coded individual grant descriptions from the members of IHRFG, the International Network of Women’s Funders, and Ariadne, a network of European human rights funders. In developing the study, the groups had to answer the question: What is a human rights grant? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the human right to safety. Is funding for a self-defense course considered human rights funding? What about funding for a school? Is that funding for the human right to education? In the end the groups involved in this study developed a definition that emphasized structural change according to the principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which encompasses rights from safety to education to non-discrimination.
From a US perspective, this study is a departure from some previous studies because it recognizes that the US is, in fact, part of the world. Thus, a grant to a local group in Arizona is counted on the same basis as a grant to a local group in Mexico. Because US data is included, the dollars attributed to the North American region total more than the rest of the world combined.
The study is also based on a dataset which has historically had more information from US based funders. Under the rules of the US Internal Revenue Service, all foundations in the US must publically report grantmaking on their tax return (Form-990). This disclosure requirement prompts many institutions to release more detailed grants data as well. The Foundation Center has gathered data on the larger US foundations for many years and has only been gathering non-US data in the past few years. Nevertheless, nearly half of the human rights grantmaking tracked in this study is from non-US foundations, and this is one of the largest non-US datasets collected by the Foundation Center.
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