By Azeen Salimi, Program Manager at Human Rights Funders Network
On Wednesday, September 5th to Friday, September 7th, I had the privilege of attending the Just Giving: Global Social Change Philanthropy conference in Berkeley, California. It was the first of the new funder network Engaged Donors for Global Equity (EDGE) Funders Alliance, which is the merger of Grantmakers Without Borders (Gw/oB) and Funders Network on Transforming the Global Economy (FNTG).
The mission of EDGE Funders Alliance is to “address the systemic nature of the social, economic and ecological crises threatening the future of our planet.” The network aims to connect transnational movements with local grassroots efforts in order to foster economic justice worldwide. By supporting reflection and peer learning, and forging collaboration among grantmakers and strategic partnerships within and outside the philanthropic sector, EDGE “works to increase resources for community well-being and transnational organizing in ways that promote justice and build lasting, meaningful change.”
The three-day conference was replete with rich, informative, and inspiring programming, including educational sessions, networking opportunities like “dine-arounds” and engagement labs, enrichment activities like site visits and documentary screenings, and of course fun!
Several themes emerged from the excellent educational sessions, including:
- Building grassroots social movements: monitoring and evaluating them, the role of funders, being flexible to respond to shifts in political and human rights landscapes (e.g. diminishing workers’ rights)
- Identifying and challenging the structural and systemic roots of global inequity and human rights abuses, including capitalism and international financial institutions
- Food sovereignty and the right to food
- Climate change/Climate justice and the accountability of non-state actors, including corporations
- Monitoring and evaluation as learning tools
- Importance of the safety and security of human rights defenders
EDGE added a third day onto the Just Giving conference, giving time and space to participants to engage in additional networking and action meetings, including Latin America and Asia and Pacific Funders working groups.
To celebrate the launch of EDGE, the Ben and Jerry Foundation brought ice cream, EDGE board members presented retrospectives about both networks, veteran board members shared humorous memories, and filmmakers assembled a montage of intimate, close-up interviews with conference participants, presented on the last day of the conference.
EDGE will be led by Director Mark Randazzo (former head of FNTG) and Lola Ibrahim, EDGE’s Communications and Operations Manager. Our friend Pete Stanga, who led Gw/oB for the past couple of years, is moving on to other pursuits.
It was a pleasure to be a participant in the conference and to take in new information, meet familiar colleagues, and make new friends. IHRFG looks forward to collaborating with EDGE and continuing our relationship with this new network.