Annual Report 2019/20

Annual Report 2019/20

Ariadne’s 2019/20 year didn’t end quite the way we expected it to, with the cancellation of our annual Policy Briefing, and our staff and most of our members in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  2020 has been teaching us some important lessons about adaptation and resilience, as we’ve moved our events online and tried to create opportunities for funders to think about what comes next and how the funding landscape might change.  In addition to webinars and online discussions, we created a blog series to help shed light on the potential impacts of the pandemic on the prospects for progressive social change and the protection of human rights, and members have provided some great reflections as part of that series. 

Looking back to 2019, though, a few highlights stick out.  We came together in Amsterdam in October 2019 for a Grant Skills Day focused on taking a climate lens to funding, and it was wonderful to hear funders talking about not only their grantmaking but also the changes they have made to their investments and operations in the face of climate change.  The climate crisis is one of the most urgent challenges of our times, and we will continue to assist funders as they pool knowledge and resources and find ways to support those communities that are most directly affected.   

Together with our partners at the Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN) and Philanthropy Advancing Women’s Human Rights (PAWHR) we also took forward the idea of developing a set of human rights grantmaking principles.  We held a series of consultations with funders throughout 2019 and early 2020, and we look forward to launching those in autumn 2020 and exploring further the values that underpin all of our work.   

Thank you all for your continued support during these challenging times.  It has been a year of rapid and dramatic change, but we look forward to shaping the future together.

< h1>‘A thriving and engaged network of donors whose membership better reflects the diversity of Europe.  This will be measured by the ratio of members in different countries.’

In April 2020, Ariadne had a total of 653 individual members from 145 member-organisations, based in 20 countries. The number of member organisations has decreased since April 2019, due to a further cleanse of Ariadne’s database. Whilst this number is smaller, we don’t consider this to have made a difference in real terms because most of these former member organisations were inactive. In fact, this rationalisation has enabled us to form a deeper level of engagement with existing member organisations (as indicated by the 20% increase in individual members). It has also led to another record year for membership contribution levels, despite member organisation numbers being the lowest they have in several years.



‘Deeper engagement with members in continental Europe, demonstrated by more events outside the UK and more events in languages other than English.’

“The Masterclass. Absolutely mind-blowing. This gave an invaluable understanding of the key links between human rights and the climate crisis and played a big part in giving us the confidence to make to our first grant barely 48 hours later!” – 2019 Grant Skills Day Participant


In 2019/20, Ariadne held 30 events in a range of different formats, locations and languages. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted a number of our events which were due to take place in different European countries and languages, resulting in a higher than usual number of webinars. Whilst we are very happy to have been able to provide this programming for our currently home-based colleagues, we look forward to engaging more with our members in their own cities and languages, when it is safe to do so.

On 21st October, Ariadne held the 2019 Grant Skills Day & Networking Dinner in Amsterdam, on the theme of funding with a climate lens. The day began with a masterclass from Tessa Khan, Co-Director of the Climate Litigation Network and Majandra Rodriguez Acha, Co-Director of the FRIDA Fund. The session offered an overview of how the climate crisis interacts with human rights; why this is an issue that should concern social change and human rights donors; and how the community has (or has not) responded. Attended by 47 funders, the event was a great success. Participants actively engaged in the discussions and, following the event, we launched a Climate Justice portal community to help continue the conversation. There is particular interest among the network in developing climate-friendly operational policies, and we are continuing to try to support foundations in those efforts. The 2020 Grant Skills Day will take place online, on the theme of digital power.

The 2020 Policy Briefing was due to take place in Berlin between 1st and 3rd April 2020. We had planned to hold our annual meeting back-to-back with that of EDGE Funders Group, with a joint event in-between. We had been looking forward to working more closely with EDGE, following the signing of our Memorandum of Understanding in 2019, and to engaging with our German members in particular. Unfortunately, however, ‘Change Funders Week 2020’ had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Following the cancellation, we worked with session organisers to adapt as many as possible to an online format, and we held them as webinars throughout April and May, ensuring that our members were still able to experience what had been planned for them.

22nd May – Workshop – ‘All About Trans’ workshop with On Road Media

23rd May – Networking Event – Ariadne & EDGE Meet-Up at EFC Conference

11th June – Webinar – Show me the money: Tools for mapping human rights philanthropy (with HRFN)

17th June – Webinar – How international partnerships on migration & refugees can benefit everyone

19th June – Meeting – Supporting movements: Sharing funder experience

5th September – Webinar – The European-Latin American Alliance of Women’s Funds to Defend Human Rights & the Values of Democracy (with PAWHR)

20th September – Webinar – Supporting resilient activism: Addressing the wellbeing of human rights defenders (with HRFN)

10th October – Webinar – Amplifying intersections & co-creating resistance to the Global Gag Rule

14th October – Webinar – A human rights & equality agenda for the European Commission

17th October – Webinar – Innovative approaches to changing human rights narratives

21st October – Conference – Grant Skills Day & Networking Dinner (Amsterdam, in English)

7th November – Webinar – Sustaining civil society: Lessons from 5 pooled funds in Eastern Europe (with HRFN)

21st November – Webinar – Corporate accountability & the duty of vigilance

16th December – Webinar – Democratic participation: Connecting people with politics in a polarised world

15th January – Webinar – The digital welfare state & human rights

16th January – Webinar – Building resilience in a time of shrinking space for civil society (with ECFI)

3rd February – Meeting – Paris Forecast Roundtable (in Paris, in French)

6th February – Meeting – London Forecast Roundtable

11th February – Meeting – Amsterdam Forecast Roundtable (in Amsterdam, in English)

13th February – Meeting – Como Forecast Roundtable (in Como, in Italian)

10th March – Webinar – Demystifying grants data: How & why to share (with Candid, HRFN & Prospera)

26th March – Webinar – GDPR & civil society: How are public interest organisations being affected?

8th April – Webinar – Mass statelessness & state-sponsored anti-Muslim violence in India (with HRFN)

9th April – Webinar – Attacks on civil society for assisting migrants & how NGOs in the EU are reacting (with EPIM)

14th April – Webinar – Local grant-making: Lasting change

15th April – Webinar – Intersectional crises in a time of pandemic: Securitisation & civic space (with FICS)

16th April – Webinar – From crisis to justice: Towards a global green new deal ft Naomi Klein (with FICS)

20th April – Webinar – The new EU pact on migration & asylum (with EPIM)

22nd April – Webinar – Rewiring capitalism to work for people & planet: Tax justice & tackling corruption

30th April – Webinar – Inclusive philanthropy for the 21st Century

‘A more user-friendly portal and a corresponding increase in the use of the portal among members.’

Over the last few years, Ariadne has worked to make the portal easier to use and more inviting for members, as well as more secure. However, we have made the decision to move away from our current platform as it has become increasingly clear that continuing to patch it to meet our needs is unsustainable.

In the Spring of 2019, we began exploring the possibility of building a custom-made Intranet to support Ariadne’s work well into the future. As part of this exploration, in the Summer of 2019 we conducted a consultation with a sample of members about their experience of the portal and what they were looking for in a communications platform.

We took the results to a meeting with The Developer Society in the Autumn, where we explored options for upgrading the portal and were introduced to an existing platform which could be adapted to suit our needs.

We decided to go ahead with this option and, following a period of fundraising, DEV Society began work on Ariadne’s new portal over the summer. The project is progressing well; we are pleased with its new look and user-friendliness, and we hope to roll it out this autumn/winter.

‘Development of strategies for donors seeking to tackle rising populism and growing social divisions and greater collaboration among donors working in this area.’

A long-term focus of Ariadne’s work is the support of donors seeking to counter ethnic and religious bias and xenophobia, and the encouragement of greater collaboration among donors working in this area. This has continued over the last year, with a series of webinars on the refugee crisis and the backlash to it.

‘How international partnerships on migration and refugees can benefit everyone.’ This webinar presented research countering common myths about the ‘refugee burden’ and offered up the Global Skill Partnership as an alternative approach which aims to organise migration in a way that benefits all. It also looked at how multi-stakeholder approaches such as the Global Compact on Refugees might improve the lives of millions of displaced people.

‘Attacks on civil society for assisting migrants and how NGOs in the EU are reacting.’ Organisations and individuals who assist migrants are under threat from increasingly restrictive legislation, toxic discourse, physical attacks and stigmatising measures. This webinar covered the criminalisation of (and harassment and violence towards) solidarity in Europe, and how strategic litigation could prevent the policing of humanitarianism.

‘The new EU pact on migration and asylum.’ This webinar looked at the situation at the EU (Greek) border to Turkey, the threat pushbacks pose to the current legislative framework, and the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum (including EU policy considerations on responsibility-sharing and border management in conformity with human rights), as well as the possible impact of Covid-19 measures on migration policy-making.

‘Creation of a mentorship scheme to encourage the development of professionals new to the philanthropic field.’

Ariadne launched the second year of its mentoring scheme in September 2019. 22 mentor/mentee pairs participated in the scheme, supported by tailor-made guides, portal communities and facilitated online training sessions for mentors. Our mentees included new grant-makers, junior staff members, and those seeking support with their ongoing work or with a professional transition.

We are very happy with the enthusiasm and level of engagement shown in the scheme, as well as feedback, and we look forward to embedding this into Ariadne’s range of benefits. Demand, particularly amongst prospective mentees, is high and appears to be increasing year on year. This is positive, but we must now work to ensure that the scheme remains manageable for the team and sustainable, since mentee numbers far exceed mentor numbers.

We hope that the mentoring scheme – which seeks to fill a gap in education and training aimed specifically at grant-making – will benefit the social change philanthropy field in Europe by creating stronger connections between individuals at different organisations and strengthening the professional capacity of the staff in foundations.

If you’d like to support the scheme, or join as a mentor, please get in touch with Ariadne’s Communications and Membership Engagement Coordinator, Hannah Stevens.

‘A healthy diversity of income sources that will lend the network greater financial sustainability.’

In the 2019/20 financial year, Ariadne’s total expenditure was £309,203 and its total income was £529,185, including project-specific grants for use in 2020/21. Ariadne draws on five income streams: Grants (core and project-specific), Membership Contributions, Conference Contributions, Event Sponsorship and Generated Income (fees for hosting private networks on the portal).

The 2017-20 strategic plan sets out aims to bring down the percentage of income from grants to no more than 50%, and to generate at least a third – if not more – of income from membership contributions.

In 2019/20, 66% of Ariadne’s income came from grants and 26% came from membership contributions. However, should we express this as a percentage of total income – excluding project-specific grants – the proportion of income from grants decreases to 51% and the proportion of income coming from membership contributions increases to 38%.

In 2018/19, 56% of Ariadne’s income came from grants and 30% came from membership contributions. Again, should we express this as a percentage of income – excluding project-specific grants – the proportion of income from grants decreases to 48% and the proportion of income from membership contributions increases to 35%.

These trends indicate that we are now more or less in line with this goal we have set for ourselves.

To ensure Ariadne’s financial sustainability in the long-term, Ariadne’s Advisory Board encourages all member-organisations to make a financial contribution to the cost of the network on an annual basis. Please click here for the 2020/21 Ariadne Membership Contribution Form.

For more information, see our 2019/20 management accounts.


In the year 2019/20, Ariadne published its sixth annual Forecast report. The annual Ariadne Forecast is a community created resource that draws on the Ariadne network. Ariadne members and other friends of the network were asked six questions about trends in their field for 2020. We collected surveys and interviews from members across Europe and held forecast meetings for funders in Amsterdam, Como, London and Paris to discuss and add to the findings. In the end we estimate that around 176 people had the chance to contribute to the Forecast.

This year’s Forecast was released just as the Covid-19 crisis began to take hold in Europe, and so we also released a series of member-written blogs which look at Forecast themes through the lens of the pandemic.


‘Don’t let COVID19 anxiety and a sense of the unknown stop us from thinking and acting for the long-term’ A time for optimism or pessimism? In this blog, friend of the network Deborah Doane argues that whilst we certainly cannot predict the long-term outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must play an active and positive role in shaping the emerging future.

‘COVID-19 stoking the flame of racism and xenophobia’ In this blog, friend of the network Katie Lau, reflects on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities, and calls for solidarity, care and transformation as we rebuild and reimagine our world post-pandemic.

‘The LGBTQI movement in the time of COVID-19’ In this blog, Ariadne member Claire Tunnacliffe looks at the unique challenges faced by the LGBTQI community during the COVID-19 pandemic, and shares what GiveOut is doing to support the movement.

‘Philanthropy’s Big Climate Problem’ In this blog, Ariadne member Priya Krishnamoorthy draws comparisons between the climate crisis and COVID-19 as intersectional issues which hit the most vulnerable hardest and require grassroots responses.

‘As destitution returns to the UK, what can philanthropy do?’ In this blog, friend of the network Barry Knight looks at the history of poverty in the UK – highlighted by the current ‘tsunami’ of crises in health, the economy and race – and sets out three things philanthropy can do (which governments can’t) to #BuildBackBetter.


Ariadne would not exist without the generous support of the following foundations:

Ariadne is also supported by membership contributions. We wish to thank the following members for their support in 2019/20:

A B Charitable Trust
Abilis Foundation
Adessium Foundation
Angela Seay
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
Bailey Grey
Baring Foundation
Barrow Cadbury Trust
Bertha Foundation
Bromley Trust
C&A Foundation
CAF Global Alliance
Calala Women’s Fund
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Christine Oliver
Comic Relief
Democracy & Media Foundation
Digital Freedom Fund
Disability Rights Fund
EMpower – The Emerging Markets Foundation
Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders
European Programme for Integration and Migration
filia.die frauenstiftung
Fondation Abbé Pierre

Fondation AGIR SA VIE
Fondation Pour Un Autre Monde
Fondazione CON IL SUD
Freedom Fund
Freudenberg Stiftung
Fund for Global Human Rights
Future of Russia Foundation
Global Dialogue
Global Greengrants Fund
Global Philanthropy Project
Heinrich Boell Foundation
Hogan Lovells
IKEA Foundation
Janivo Foundation
JMG Foundation
Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust
Kering Foundation
KIOS Foundation
Kreitman Foundation
LankellyChase Foundation
Legal Education Foundation
Mama Cash
Media Democracy Fund
Media Legal Defence Initiative
Mediterranean Women’s Fund
Network for Social Change
Open Society Fund Prague

Oranje Fonds
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
Prague Civil Society Centre
Pro Victimis Foundation
Rayne Foundation
Regula Wolf
Renewable Freedom Foundation
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
Shiva Foundation
Solberga Foundation
SOLIDARNA – Foundation for Human Rights and Solidarity
The Bonnart Trust
The David and Elaine Potter Foundation
The Honey Foundation / Ligaya Foundation
The National Lottery Community Fund
The Social Change Initiative
The Womanity Foundation
Thousand Currents
Tinsley Charitable Trust
Trust for London
Ukrainian Women’s Fund
Un Monde Par Tous
Unbound Philanthropy
Urgent Action Fund
Weisblatt & associés
Women’s Fund in Georgia

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