May 20, 2024

Philanthropy, We’re Calling On You: Fund Feminist Activism Now

Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism

Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism

A feminist force was emerging globally, from the work of so many women activists, philanthropists, women, and their allies, who saw a new way of looking at social justice and social change. We can look at this from a different vantage point. And it gives us creative new ways of solving problems. And women are really good at solving problems. That’s what we do. – Julia Shaw, Founder of Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism

In 1997, Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism was founded with the vision of providing quick, easily accessible resources to feminist activists in urgent need of help and support worldwide. Today, we continue to provide rapid response grants to women, trans, and LBGTQ+ movements, filling a gap where traditional philanthropy falls short. But the gap in resourcing for feminist activists is vast, and today, we are calling on funders to step up.

What is the Gap?

When money is designated for gender equality, most of it is used by governments for their own programs, the rest allocated to mainstream civil society organizations, international NGOs and development agencies, not grassroots, feminist organizations. (AWID

In 2018, women’s rights organizations received a mere 0.13% of all development assistance and just 0.4% (USD 198 million) of all gender-focused aid (USD 48.7 billion).

Slow and Slow: The Obstacles to Adequate, Flexible Resourcing

Today, the amount of funding for feminist movements has hardly increased, and there are a number of other limitations due to the nature of how philanthropy moves money, which continues to limit access to quick, flexible funding. 

Not to mention that the majority of grantmaking globally is slow-moving: public and private funders alike continue to favor lengthy application timelines, burdensome requirements and longer-term outcomes.

And while funders increasingly understand the value of flexible, fluid approaches, particularly in the wake of COVID-19, rapid-response grants are still underutilized as a core component of funding – and a critical complement to much needed long-term support – for movement building and social change.

The funding offered by traditional philanthropy is generally directed to organizations with official non-profit status. As a result, unincorporated groups and individuals – vital leaders of frontline movements – face significantly greater barriers to funding, and likewise safety and protection from risk. 

Give Us More Money, Honey! Why Feminist Movements Need More Financial Support

Today, frontline feminists are taking, and facing, extraordinary risks to challenge oppressive systems and build a just world.

As governments increasingly stifle dissent and roll-back protections for basic human rights, women, trans and non-binary activists are forced to expend greater energy and take greater risks to keep each other and their wider communities safe – all while sustaining and propelling feminist movements for justice, equity and liberation.

As conflict and crises intensify, frontline feminist activists must be more prepared than ever to mobilize and meet unexpected opportunities and challenges, navigating ever-shifting political landscapes with safety, urgency, creativity and care. 

How to Act Now to Support Frontline Feminist Activists

Quick, flexible funding from a trusted funder can be a lifeline for women, trans and nonbinary activists who face direct threats to their safety and well-being.

Women and LGTBQ+ activists play key roles in resolving many of the issues facing humanity today, including climate change, human rights threats and abuses, and other social justice issues. Funders need to approach resourcing these issues from an intersectional lens, providing support to all actors who play critical roles in developing and implementing solutions.

Incorporating care into grantmaking efforts is also essential, especially as feminist activists experience burnout and trauma from the threats and risks they face in their work, and the ongoing nature of rights-focused struggles. 

When feminist movements have access to timely support from trusted funders, they are better equipped to adapt to real-time risks and leverage timely opportunities in ways that sustain ongoing movements for social change. When we center frontline feminists across global philanthropic and advocacy spaces, especially activists most marginalized by oppressive systems and structures, we can shift greater power, resources and protection toward frontline feminist movements to realize and sustain their vision for a just and equitable world. 

Want to learn more about the important role of feminist funders in developing future-forward solutions? Watch our documentary short, “The Chorus We Carry” now.


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Chinyere Ezie



Chinyere Ezie is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she advocates for racial justice, gender justice, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+) rights, and challenges governmental abuses of power. Chinyere previously worked at the Southern Poverty Law Center where she brought cases defending the rights of LGBTQI+ Southerners. She also served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she litigated employment discrimination cases and secured a $5.1 million jury verdict on behalf of workers subjected to unlawful treatment. Chinyere is a William J. Fulbright Scholar, a White House Fellows Program Regional Panelist, and a cum laude graduate of Yale University. She also received a Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School, where she was an Alexander Hamilton Scholar and served as Editor in Chief of the Journal of Gender and Law. Chinyere serves on the Board of Directors of the Transgender Law Center and the feminist grant-making organization the Urgent Action Fund. She was also a Founding Board Member of the National Trans Bar Association.In 2018, she was named one of the nation’s Best LGBTQI+ Lawyers Under 40.