Expert Advice on International Giving: Start Here

By Rachel Humphrey, TCC Group

In her previous posts, Rachel made the case for small-staff philanthropy’s niche in international giving, and she shared ingredients for success: building equitable relationships and conducting effective site visits. Here she shares one more: getting help from experts.

Did you know? According to Caitlin Stanton, Director of Learning and Partnerships at Urgent Action Fund, a public foundation with deep expertise in international grantmaking for women’s rights, in some locations, a grantee’s physical or digital security can be put in danger simply by being contacted by a U.S.-based funder. UAF has developed comprehensive security protocols that enable the organization to provide funds for women’s rights defenders in the most difficult circumstances.

With limited staff resources and the complexities of international grantmaking, small foundations are wise to tap into the expertise of the philanthropic community when getting started with international giving. Sources of help include affinity groups, public foundations, and grantees and potential grantees.

Affinity groups exist to provide support and information to donors, and there are many with at least a partial focus on international philanthropy. Foundations can find ample resources and make connections with other international donors through:

Some public foundations do international grantmaking, such as Global Greengrants Fund and Urgent Action Fund. Public foundations often have the staff, networks, and experience that a small foundation does not. Public foundations also can track trends in the field by way of the applications they receive.

Other public foundations with a focus on international grantmaking include:

A word of caution if seeking advice from public foundations: If you ask for their time and advice, please compensate them in some way. You may consider giving a small grant or consulting fee if you are asking for a lot of their time. And, of course, they may become a wise giving vehicle for your international grantmaking.

Last, your grantees and potential grantees are experts from whom you should learn. As described in my previous posts, they have deep knowledge that should inform not only your grant-level decisions but also assist you in setting your foundation’s strategy. Beyond providing guidance on the local context in which they work, grantees often have important insights on tactics and networks. For example, in Pakistan, the women’s empowerment group Shirkat Gah has done decades of research on the legal and policy environment and on tactics for advocacy within the United Nations. Grantees may also have insights on who else is funding in their communities, or on best practices for donors in their field.

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Rachel HumphreyRachel Humphrey, MNA, PCC, joined TCC Group in September 2012 as a consultant focusing on strategy and capacity building for foundations and nonprofits. She earned a master of nonprofit administration degree from the University of San Francisco in 2003 and is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through the International Coach Federation. Prior to working as a coach and consultant full time, Rachel served as the Director of Philanthropic Partnerships at the Global Fund for Women. Follow Rachel on Twitter @rachelzh.

2 thoughts on “Expert Advice on International Giving: Start Here

  1. Pingback: To Our Contributors, Thank You | PhilanthroFiles

  2. Pingback: One step forward, two steps back: A “toxic tour” of South Durban | PhilanthroFiles

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