What we do

Ariadne is a network for funders set up and run by funders. It is a private community that connects European donors and foundation staff working to support social change, human dignity, human rights and justice.

What connects the diverse membership of Ariadne is our efforts to create societies that are inclusive, just and offer opportunities to all. This includes work across a broad range of issues, including migration and integration, disability and inclusion, children’s rights, empowering young people, LGBTI rights, labour rights, tolerance and diversity, gender and women’s empowerment, civil and political rights, good governance, environmental justice and many other topics as well.

It was set up by a number of European funders because they felt that peer support could strengthen philanthropy, help funders to work more strategically, and encourage new donors to enter the field with maximum impact. Between them, its members have helped to create private resources that are used for the benefit of the wide community of funders and donors, and public resources that are available on this website and via our twitter feed for the benefit of civil society as a whole.

Overall Ariadne enables participants to achieve more together than they can individually, by providing access to a number of community created tools and a supportive network of colleagues.

Philanthropy strategist Dr. Barbara Klugman leads a master-class for funders on ‘How Social Change Happens’

Video: 2 mins 40 seconds


Ariadne supports new funders and those seeking to brush up and extend their skills to explore both basic and more complex topics in a series of free or subsidised master-classes, workshops and grant skills days. These are held in different European locations, in different languages, so that funders can learn together in an open and supportive way from the best experts in the field. Past events looked at how social change happens, how to evaluate projects, how to read financial accounts, how to use a gender lens and how to craft a theory of change. More recently we have looked at issues such as The Digital Dividend and technology, how funders can help bring communities together and how to fund social movements.  We have also set up and regularly add to a searchable online library of grant-skills documents, which are available free to Ariadne members. 

Community Hub

This is password protected and free to use for funders.  Each grant-maker or donor who is an Ariadne member has their own private profile page that includes a brief bio and their interests. It can only be accessed by other members who are logged in. Each member can choose to join more than 30 communities, set up by funders for funders, which focus on different issues, regions, or languages. Users can also suggest their own communities to cover topics that are important to them; these can be in any language.  Users can watch videos or listen to recordings of past events, and thematic series, or upload research and information, adding to the growing library of social change, human rights and grant-skills documents stored here. It has a powerful search function that members can use to do research or look for like-minded funders working in the same fields. As with all of Ariadne’s tools, no fundraising of any kind takes place on the Community Hub or in any Ariadne meeting.   

Combining Resources

Ariadne provides a series of tools to make working together simpler and easier, if funders and donors wish to do this. The portal helps them to share information and join focused communities to stay up to date with different fields and to stay in touch with colleagues. It also provides free online resources to host more formal partnerships: these can be funders’ collaboratives, or shared with other actors.

Ariadne also creates a monthly online summary, called Ariadne’s Thread, which carries details of research, legal judgements and new reports of interest to social change and human rights funders. Its aim is to save time by doing the work of reading hundreds of reports and newsletters for you. It includes a list of relevant events taking place around Europe and is a good place to advertise (for free) or respond to career opportunities.

Brian Kearney-Grieve, The Atlantic Philanthropies
Video: 20 seconds

Networking Offline and Online

Funders can find themselves isolated for many different reasons. Ariadne provides a simple way to stay in touch. We know that online contact is useful and saves time and money, but that face-to-face networking is where real relationships of trust between funders develop. We hold a number of events and networking dinners throughout the year so that donors and funders know their own community. These take place in different locations and include the Ariadne Reconnect (formerly known as the Policy Briefing), which is the annual meeting of the network. All of this helps funders develop useful professional relationships of trust across languages, borders and cultures that add real value to their grant-making.

Jo Temple, The Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts
Video: 56 seconds

Sharing Experiences

Much of what Ariadne does as a community is to enable its members to share their experiences of being a grant-maker. We emphasis the ability to learn from each other and we spend time honestly assessing different strategies and approaches based on our own experience. Every major event is planned by Ariadne members and encourages their participation. This helps grant-makers reflect on their own practice and it enables us to understand what different funders in different locations need. We know that this only happens in an environment in which funders and donors feel comfortable. It is one of our primary tasks to create that.

Mapping Resource for Social Change and Human Rights Funders

Mapping and Knowledge Tools

Ariadne has helped to create a number of new knowledge tools for funders:


The State of Global Foundation Grantmaking for Social Change and Human Rights Funders (For all): The data that has been collected in the Foundation Maps database, which has been added to for a number of years, can now be used by anyone to track overall trends in funding over time. A summary of this information is publically available.

• See the interactive online map: The State of Global Foundation Grantmaking for Social Change and Human Rights Funders.

• Download a PDF of the latest key findings report: Advancing Human Rights: 2018 Update on Global Grantmaking.

• Explore the results of the 2011 – 2015 Trend Analysis on the foundation funding for human rights


Scoping and Mapping Resource for Social Change and Human Rights Funders (For Ariadne participants only): All Ariadne members have free access to this resource which allows them to save immense amounts of time and cost. Together with our US based partners, the Human Rights Funders Network, Prospera – the International Network of Women’s Funds, and the Foundation Center, we created an interactive online map that enables funders to explore social change and human rights funding right down to grant level, and scope different fields and issues at their desks.

This sophisticated tool can search grants by:
• Issue, population groups or by regions;
• funder name or grantee name;
• grant amounts or the year a grant was made;
• or cross referencing several of these filters at once.

Access the map on the Ariadne Portal homepage (login required)


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