Rula Halawani

Where top-down approaches have failed, local communities are ready to lead a new way.

Rawa’s initial three-year pilot (2019-2021) will result in a tested experimental model of participation, resource management, community development, and philanthropic strategies that can be scaled up and replicated. Rawa’s unique model and process aims to instill pride, respect, and hope—critical to move the reality of the conflict and challenges facing Palestinians from a stagnating environment into a more creative, multi-faceted, and generative participatory space.

A community-driven support model that mobilizes Palestinian creativity.

How It Works

Rawa believes that community-led priority-setting and oversight of support resources is the right approach from a social justice perspective. It’s also smart strategy. Rawa’s model enhances and strengthens existing on-the-ground resources and networks, raising Palestinian community groups’ existing capacity to be creative and dynamic. And, with a light and nimble structure, fewer resources and energies are spent on institutional costs and development.

Rawa’s broad mandate is to support creative community development solutions (using social, economic, and/or cultural approaches) from small-to-medium sized Palestinian organizations and unregistered groups. The funding process begins and ends with community decision-makers (our four Community Clusters).


Community-Led Process

Drawing from their intimate local knowledge, community members prospect (seek out ideas and gather them as simple concept notes) and select (at an all-cluster democratic forum) innovative community initiatives. This participatory, collaborative, and democratic process fosters communication, learning, networking, solidarity, and exchange between fractured and separated Palestinian communities. After proposed community development solutions are selected for funding, local partners shepherd them throughout the support process, rather than impede them with arbitrarily imposed conditions and outcome-based documentation. 


Experimentation and Learning 

Since the most successful outcomes are sometimes unforeseen and unplanned, Rawa prioritizes learning together, remaining open to different pathways to success, and accepting that occasional failures are unavoidable, yet often illuminating. Rawa’s support model embraces flexibility, honoring the organic and creative ways communities generate and implement authentic solutions. In doing so, we pave the way for experimental ideas that carry the potential to cross disciplinary and political boundaries, but that funders might otherwise overlook or be unable to support (because they lack knowledge, scale, or capacity, or because of legal restrictions or political concerns).


New Ways to Give to Palestine

As a basket fund, Rawa is a global philanthropic resource mobilizing platform, designed to make it easier for people to donate to Palestinian communities, and for Palestinian communities to effectively and autonomously use that support. Rawa advocates for progressive Palestinian community development at the international philanthropy level, leveraging the funding power of foundations, development agencies, individual donors, fundraisers, and novel fundraising models (like crowdfunding), while ensuring equitable power dynamics between donors and local communities when it comes to the distribution and use of funds.

Seeing sustainability as shared responsibility, Rawa’s alternative support system is designed to move to the next level of participatory funding and community self-reliance—by raising diversified, rather than centralized funds, and by incentivizing local social resource mobilization.

Rawa believes that lasting solutions come from local people who are steeped in the knowledge, culture, and strengths of their communities, and are accountable to them.

Who Decides?

Why Community Members?

Grassroots initiatives supported by Rawa are selected by local people on the ground who know best what types of projects will strengthen the fabric of society. Members of four Community Clusters set the funding priorities and manage the oversight of support resources, because they are the most qualified people to do this work. After all, community groups don’t just run programs and offer services, they restore hope and dignity, engage people in their communities, build trust and social capital, and mobilize community assets. They have local ideas and social capital. They want flexibility, shared power, accountability, transparency, and diversified resources.


Participatory Philanthropy

Rawa’s alternative model spurs local Palestinian communities to pro-actively source and nurture creative solutions and alternatives to local problems, as opposed to traditional funding models, in which donors and foundation staff decide what people and projects are funded. Our approach capitalizes on an increasing desire for participatory grant making models (PGMs). PGMs prioritize and value community involvement in decision-making, community-set priorities for funding, use of and investment in local resources, activation of local networks, and collaboration toward meaningful social change.

This is Rawa: Community-Led Change in Action

A five-video series that introduces several of Rawa’s cluster members—a diverse network of volunteers from across Palestine (grouped into four clusters: West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, and ‘48)—showing the community-based work they do and following some of them as they begin to seek out creative grassroots initiatives to nominate for Rawa’s first grants and support cycle in 2019. 

Possibilities, not conditions.

What We Support


Rawa supports initiatives from small-to-medium-sized Palestinian organizations and unregistered groups. 

In our first grants cycle in 2019, we supported 23 grassroots community-based initiatives. Read about them here


Tools + Strategies

Aiming to support truly innovative and experimental ideas, prospective initiatives may use a wide field of social, economic, and/or cultural approaches and diverse, unrestricted tools and strategies. Maximizing the potential impact of supported projects, the model encourages cross-sector collaborations and solutions that draw from local resources and enhance local social capital. Funded groups might use tools and strategies such as:

  • infrastructure development

  • capacity building

  • education

  • advocacy

  • campaigns

  • social enterprise

  • public programs

  • mobilization

  • marketing and entertainment


Rawa’s support mandate falls under the umbrella of creative community development solutions that: 

  • strengthen the social fabric 

  • spark open discourse

  • build social cohesion

  • inspire community engagement

  • empower local leadership

  • expand volunteerism

  • harness local social and financial capital

  • grow sustainable economies

And, since local funding decision-makers represent progressive voices within Palestinian society, we expect projects that benefit youth, women, people in rural areas, and that create alliances between typically fragmented and divided communities across a region affected by military occupation, widespread discrimination, stifled economies, and strained resources.