Analyzing Funding to Indigenous Women

In March 2024, International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP) and International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI), two Channel grantee partners, released a new report titled “Leaders and Stewards: Global Analysis of Funding to Indigenous Women”. The report seeks to “assess the progress, funding status, and challenges in funding for Indigenous Women’s Organizations.” It is part of a series of reports commissioned by FIMI and IFIP and developed by Archipel Research and Consulting, an Indigenous-owned and women-led company.

The report relies on 11 interviews and 286 surveys with Indigenous Women’s Organizations from around the world. The survey consisted of 30 questions split into 2 sections, focused on the “organizational profile of Indigenous-led and Indigenous serving organizations and the funding realities and barriers of these organizations.”

The objectives of the report was to:

  1. Assess the funding status, challenges and gaps to Indigenous Women’s Organizations and Indigenous Women-led Organizations.
  2. Identify the priority areas and opportunities for philanthropic and funding communities and Indigenous Women’s Organizations and Indigenous Women-led Organization.
  3. Demonstrate the importance and need for philanthropic and funding communities to fund Indigenous Women and Indigenous Women-led Organizations.

The report begins with an overview of Indigenous women around the world, their experiences, and the barriers they encounter in accessing funding. It continues with an analysis of the findings from the interviews and surveys. Overall, from 2016 to 2020, the report found that of the $28.5 billion in grants given to support women and girls, only 1.4% ($392 million) was directed to organizations supporting Indigenous women. Additionally, it observed that of this $392 million, only $62.8 million of funding went to Indigenous peoples organizations.

From the surveys, the report analyzed that most organizations had an annual budget under $100,000, received grants between $25,000 and $50,000, and that most grants were less than one year. This highlights a major challenge to accessing funds, as most of these organizations are small in size. This is emphasized by the low number of staff, with 34.3% of these organizations reporting that they had staff between five and ten.

Additionally, the report depicts that the majority of projects these organizations received funding for were environmental and gender and women’s equality initiatives. Of those with funding, 61% of organizations stated that their funding was project or program specific, while 17% stated it was for general support. The top three funding sources for these organizations were Indigenous funders (such as FIMI), governments, and foundations.

From the interviews, the report assessed that there were several priority areas that participants highlighted. These include ensuring government recognition of Indigenous rights, that Indigenous women’s rights efforts are led by Indigenous women, and eliminating violence against Indigenous women and girls. Other priorities include community healing, increasing representation of Indigenous women in decision-making and leadership roles, and the protection of land and resources.

Furthermore, participants described several challenges and barriers to accessing funding. These include “constraints related to funding application and criteria; a general lack of funding for Indigenous Women’s organizations; barriers to building relationships with funders; and a lack of necessary organizational infrastructure and systems impacting organizational capacity.” Overall, participants emphasized the need for “strategic and comprehensive funding approaches” to address these challenges.

The report concludes with a regional breakdown of the findings, a review of the 5R’s of Indigenous Philanthropy, and by highlighting 6 key challenges to funding for organizations. These include:

  1. Short term or project based funding
  2. Lack of capacity
  3. Lack of access or reach to big donors
  4. Requirements
  5. Lack of transparency among donor agencies
  6. Not registered or newly registered organizations