Human Rights Causes Receive $2.3 Billion From Foundations

July 20, 2016       NPT Staff      

Foundations provided $2.3 billion in grant funding to human rights causes in 2013. The sum represented a 23 percent increase in giving from 2012 among a subset of 803 funders across 46 countries.

Advancing Human Rights: Update on Global Foundation Grantmaking, a report released by the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) and Foundation Center, analyzed 20,300 grants disbursed to 12,262 organizations worldwide and focused on the type of work and populations dollars are sent to benefit.

“Whether examining the funding landscape for strategic litigation, exploring the intersection of women’s rights and rule-of-law, or advocating with government actors to increase their rights funding, grantmakers have used this research to find partners, understand cross-cutting themes, and be more strategic in their work,” said Mona Chun, executive director of IHRFG.

Equality rights and freedom from discrimination were the most popular cause among foundations, receiving about 15 percent of grant dollars. General human rights, 13 percent; health and well-being rights, 11 percent, and sexual and reproductive rights, 9 percent, followed – each receiving more than $200 million.

Women and girls were the most common beneficiary of grants, 21 percent of total dollars, followed by children and youth, 19 percent, and migrants and refugees, 11 percent.

Additional findings from the report include:

  • More than a quarter of grant dollars, 26 percent, went toward advocacy, systems reform and implementation. Capacity-building and technical assistance, 14 percent, research and documentation, 13 percent, and media and technology, 10 percent, were the other strategies receiving more than one-tenth of grant dollars;
  • Half of the top 20 funders in terms of number of grants are located in the United States. Open Society Foundations and Ford Foundation, both in New York City, and Nationale Postcode Loterij in Amsterdam, Netherlands were the top three funders, providing more than $250 million each; and,
  • An additional $3.7 billion in international aid was provided to human rights causes in 2013. Sweden led the way among international providers with 14 percent of total giving; according to the report, followed by the United States, 12 percent, and the European Union and Norway, 11 percent each. Afghanistan, Colombia, Indonesia and Rwanda were among the top recipients of such disbursements, receiving more than $80 million each.

The 2016 report is the fourth in an annual series targeted at tracking evolutions in global human rights funding. To view the full, interactive report, visit

  • foundation center
  • human rights
  • international human rights funders group