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Our Theory of Change

Through grantmaking and advocacy, our members aim to make positive and lasting impacts on human rights issues around the globe. Our ultimate goal, as a network and resource to funders, is to ensure that philanthropy is effectively resourcing human rights work and movements.

What do we mean by “effective resourcing”? More and better funding.

To reach this goal, HRFN works with funders individually and collectively, seeking to change grantmaking practice, approaches to human rights funding, and the philanthropic field more broadly.

In the shorter-term, we want to see:

  • Stronger, more collaborative relationships—not just among human rights funders, but also between funders and human rights activists and experts.
  • Funders operating from a more robust knowledge base about grantmaking practice, trends in human rights, and where they fit in the funding landscape. They’re looking more to their peers, human rights activists and evidence to inform their decision-making and agree that this—along with some adaptability and risk-taking—is what it takes to be more effective in their grantmaking.
  • Human rights funders taking their learning to other philanthropic sectors, bringing more people on board to tackle new human rights challenges and fill the funding gaps.

How are we going to get there? HRFN has a two-phase strategy.

The first phase is providing opportunities—through communities of practice—for human rights funders across the world to connect, build trust, exchange information, and learn together. HRFN’s research plays a key part in helping grantmakers understand the latest trends in human rights issues and funding.

The second phase is about moving funders from discussion to making change—going beyond networking to shift the field of philanthropy through individual and collective actions. This could be about supporting members to change practice within their own institutions, or facilitating opportunities for members to influence philanthropists outside of this circle.

As we developed this theory of change, we realized a couple things. It’s essential that our members share a vision for effective human rights grantmaking. While our community has many and diverse approaches, we believe that a shared commitment to this vision is critical—especially because HRFN members and our partners are providing approximately $1.7 billion annually to promote human rights across the globe.

Additionally, we recognized just how much HRFN and our members act as ambassadors to others. We have an important role to play in influencing peers within and beyond the human rights funding community.

We don’t have all the answers. But we are committed to listening and to learning.

Click image to access a PDF version of our Theory of Change.