Human rights hit record $ 3.7 billion, but some regions lag behind


Philanthropic funding to promote human rights around the world hit a record $ 3.7 billion in 2018, according to a report released Wednesday. However, nearly half of the donations came from 12 foundations, showing that funding depended only on a handful of donors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The joint report of the philanthropy research organization Candid and Human Rights Funders Network, a collection of global human rights donors, also found a small amount of direct donations to charities in developing regions.

The report analyzed the contributions of more than 800 donors who sought to advance the rights enshrined in human rights treaties and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a United Nations agreement that sets out widely accepted civil and political rights, as well as social rights for education. , health and other things.

Most of the contributions were for programs in North America, however, Rachel Thomas, director of research initiatives at the Human Rights Funders Network, says the lack of solid charitable data outside the United States may have contributed to these results. .

General Global Programs were the second largest recipient, followed by initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa – which received $ 291 million in contributions. Only $ 18 million has been donated to support work in the Caribbean, a region currently experiencing dueling crises in Haiti and Cuba following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, and anti-government protests in Cuba.

Most human rights funds earmarked for programs in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean have not gone to organizations based in those regions, according to the report. Experts from the Council on Foundations, an association of funders, say administrative hurdles – and restrictive foreign funding laws in some countries – make it difficult for US foundations to make direct donations to charities in other countries . But critics suggest that the low amount of direct funding also indicates a “trust gap” between donors and organizations in developing regions.

It is not known how much money has gone to organizations that have reallocated contributions to local charities or to Western nonprofits that run their own programs in these areas. Many have long criticized donations to the latter, and called for more localized aid.

“Trust remains an issue,” said Degan Ali, executive director of Kenya-based humanitarian and development organization Adeso, and critic of foreign aid that prioritizes Western nonprofits.

“How would Americans feel if a group of Ghanaian NGOs came to California to respond to the wildfires, and they ignored the American Red Cross… ignored all of the national organizations in California? Ali said. “They would feel angry. And, they won’t accept it. This is exactly what happens to us every day.

Flexible funding – gifts that organizations can use however they see fit – are generally weak. The report found that it accounts for 29% of human rights funding in North America and even less in other regions. Only 2% of donations to the Caribbean, for example, have been in the form of flexible support.

Proponents note that this type of funding makes an organization’s infrastructure more sustainable by covering overhead costs, and also corrects donor blind spots. The researchers said in the report that the findings indicate “a need for honest thinking about when, how and where trust informs funding for long-term social change.”


The Associated Press receives support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. The AP is solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s philanthropic coverage, visit


About Author

Comments are closed.