Events often seem like ice flows, with circumstances stuck for years, conflicts spluttering on, countries divided, or struggling under authoritarian and frightening regimes, and just when we believe it will be like this for the rest of our lives, suddenly it changes. Nelson Mandela is released from prison and apartheid ends, Russia withdraws from Eastern Europe and the Iron Curtain falls, the Arab Spring topples regime after regime.
We have come to understand that these are critical moments, the wins, especially for private funders who have the resources and the will to move quickly, can be spectacular. But it takes judgement and understanding for funders to grasp these opportunities and use them well. Alliance Magazine is devoting its December issue to helping funders understand how to do this. It includes a mix of articles and interviews reflecting different approaches to grant-making and social investment in transitions, as well as local experiences and grantee insights into past and present transitions.
It includes an interview in which I was given a chance to think about my experience as a human rights grant-maker, and also as a television reporter, covering often difficult events in different parts of the world, and trying to draw out lessons for those trying to craft funding programmes in the face of a number of difficult and prolonged current transitions.
It also includes information from the real experts, Mark Freeman, Director of the Institute for Integrated Transitions and Barbara Ibrahim of the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement in Cairo, who are the joint authors of a clear and concise guide (in Arabic or English) for funders seeking to engage successfully in transitions.
This guide was conceived on a funders learning visit to the Arab Spring, organised jointly by Ariadne and the International Human Rights Funders’ Group in 2012, when we realised that there was almost nothing to help funders to make better decisions about grant-making in transitions. Mark and Barbara’s guide was the result of this, it’s an excellent start on a complicated and difficult topic, the scars of which many funders, especially in the human rights field, bear on their backs, and proof also that there are many fruits from learning visits, the best ones of which take time to ripen.
Read Alliance Magazine’s full interview, Human rights funding in transitions: