At first glance, the UK-based Sigrid Rausing Trust’s (SR Trust) sexual and reproductive health rights funding (SRHR) may seem quite closed off. Every grantee must have a human rights angle in their work and the SR Trust hasn’t accepted unsolicited proposals since 2010. But this is a significant funder, having doled out over £208 million over the past decade, so it's worth thinking hard about how to get on SR Trust’s radar.
The first thing to know about SR Trust is why it stopped accepting unsolicited proposals. The trust has always been a human rights funder at its core. When it opened its doors in 1995, it had an open application system, but found that very few proposals coming in had anything to do with human rights. As a result, only a small number of the proposals received led to actual funding.
To make better use of its time and resources, the trust decided to stop accepting unsolicited proposals and move to identifying potential grantees on its own by recommendations and examining the human rights work of various organizations. So, even if you don't know it, SR Trust may already be looking at your organization if you're doing the kind of work they like to fund.
And what is that work, exactly? Well, SR Trust is into a range of human rights issues, and ways to work on these issues. Much of the SRHR funding seems to go through its Women’s Rights program, although there are other potential entry points in its various programs.
As for that Women’s Rights program, SRHR advocates are in luck, because the program has one of the largest grantmaking budgets of any in the foundation, giving away about £3 million annually.
Of course, with around £21 million in annual funding overall, SR Trust isn’t in the same league as funders that dole out millions of dollars per year to SRHR organizations, like the Gates, Hewlett, and the Ford foundations. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, which leads us another thing to know about Sigrid Rausing.
SR Trust seeks out emerging and mid-sized organizations. This is good news for those grassroots outfits trying to compete for just a little bit of elbow room in an SRHR field crowded with major global NGOs. Here’s a peek at a few recent SRHR related grants awarded by the Trust:
- £40,000 to the Anti-Violence Network of Georgia. This grant was awarded to support the network’s domestic violence and violence against women advocacy work.
- £50,000 to DEMUS. SR Trust’s grant supports the organization’s work in the fight against gender inequality, violence against women, and women’s SRHR violations. DEMUS is based in Lima, Peru.
- £48,000 to SOFEPADI. Based in the DRC, SOFEPADI began focusing on two main issues in 2003—addressing violence against women, and fighting for an end to sexual violence in Eastern DRC. The grant will support SOFEPADIs ongoing work, including operating support for its Mama Medical Center, which provides free services to victims of gender and sexual based violence.
The final thing to know about Sigrid Rausing—and this applies to all grantmaking programs at the trust—is that it is looking for long-term relationships. Sure, it may give its new grantees training wheels in its initial grants, which don’t last longer than a year. But, if everything goes as planned, those first-time grantees are eligible to apply for a second grant with a three-year term. There may still be some jockeying for grant dollars in that second year, but the field of competition is considerably smaller.
What’s more, is that if all goes well in that second, three-year grant term, grantees are eligible to apply for two additional three-year terms. Meaning, grantseekers who get a foot in the door with a one-year grant, have the potential of receiving an additional nine years of funding from Sigrid Rausing. Cool, right?
On a quick end note, grantseekers don’t necessarily have to present SR Trust with a fully functioning and specific SRHR project to receive funding. As the trust puts it “We believe that donors can best encourage innovation and imagination if they allow grantees to develop their own ideas.” That said, the trust doesn’t give grantees carte blanche to take its money and run. It does have expectations and examines each grantees methodology, reporting, and impact.