With over two decades of experience investing in our community-based partners, we have witnessed the obstacles and challenges local organizations face in accessing flexible funding and support based on trust – and we believe fundamental changes are necessary in philanthropy and global development to unleash the potential of young people and local communities around the world.
Philanthropy and global development have a significant trust deficit, especially when it comes to supporting grassroots organizations and youth-led initiatives. This trust deficit means donors far too often set the agenda; approach complex social change initiatives in a linear, technical, output-focused way; and expect unrealistic outcomes communicated in cumbersome reports. These practices reinforce power imbalances rooted in colonization and white supremacy that these sectors must disrupt to advance meaningful social change.
We recognize the risks of continuing business as usual in philanthropy and development. GFC believes in shifting power to locally led grassroots organizations around the world. Along with many other voices in philanthropy, humanitarian aid, and global development, we urge these sectors to transform mindsets and practices to disrupt power imbalances and imagine bold, new ways to resource social change.
In this vast and growing movement to shift power, GFC commits to:
GFC imagines a philanthropic ecosystem centered on trust-based relationships that are built upon equity, humility, and transparency. GFC is proud to be a partner of the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project and to collaborate with peers to advance trust-based principles in the sector. Strengthening trust is one of the fundamental first steps to meaningfully altering the power imbalance between funders and grantees. We reflect trust in how we center relationships, learn with humility, and collaborate with curiosity. Trust is at the center of our funding model and long-term relationships with partners: We trust our partners to seek solutions, lead, manage funds, and evaluate outcomes. Instead of asking, “What could go wrong?” we ask, “What could go right?”
GFC advocates for more funding and holistic support for youth-centered and youth-led community organizations and their grassroots solutions, especially in the world’s most marginalized communities. Funding can be difficult to access due to language barriers, discrimination, and requirements – like budget size, years of operation, NGO registration status, and audit completion – that are often tough for grassroots organizations to meet.
GFC finds organizations that are unable to access mainstream financing and invests in their vision for change with flexible funding. In 2019, GFC expanded access to funding for grassroots organizations by changing its policy to enable unregistered groups, including those without a fiscal sponsor, to become partners.
GFC’s partners are trusted community organizations with deep knowledge of local issues and grassroots solutions. As local, nascent, and youth-led organizations, whose leaders are sometimes from communities facing oppression, far too often their value goes unrecognized, their efforts unseen, and their voices unheard.
GFC aims to support partners in accessing influencing spaces in global development and philanthropy. We envision these spaces becoming more diverse, equitable, and inclusive as youth and grassroots leaders claim seats at the table. In partnership with local organizations, we seek deeper, lasting changes to promote the wellbeing and rights of children through advocacy and systemic change.
To ensure that youth voices inform our work, we created a Youth Leadership Council in 2018. Our youth advisors help guide our vision, strategies, and practices as they learn with us about issues impacting children and youth, participate in grantmaking, and imagine ways to transform the sector. We’ve also launched the Spark Fund, a unique fund for global youth-led social change that includes young people in key decisions through a participatory grantmaking process. As we learn more about meaningful youth engagement, we will share lessons learned to encourage other funders to examine their advisory and decision-making mechanisms to share power with young people.
To sustain social change in communities across the world, GFC believes in fostering wellbeing and collective care. The wellbeing of children and youth is at the core of our Theory of Change, and we deeply value the wellbeing of the community leaders who champion them. Far too many youth and grassroots activists face security threats, trauma, financial pressures, and the constant pull to do more. Nurturing the wellbeing of the people who form organizations is integral to shifting inequitable power relations. Integrating collective care into our social change movements is essential to avoid burnout and foster civil society resilience.
We will continue to listen to our partners and to engage in dialogue with them and with sector peers. We will collect and act on Constituent Voice and Grantee Perception Survey feedback to respond to our partners’ needs. We are committed to strengthening grantmaking and capacity development practices that advance trust, equity, and social change.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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