Issa Freij

Rawa is part of a global conversation about changing the culture of development aid and empowering grassroots communities.

Press Kit

What is Rawa?

Print or download an overview of Rawa: Creative Palestinian Communities Fund.

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Reports

Report on the 2014 Pocantico Convening

A convening in October of 2014 at Pocantico, Rockefeller Brother’s retreat center in New York, brought together 22 people to further conceptualize Rawa’s development, following initial consultations and research. This meeting received support from Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Open Society Foundations, Middle East Children's Alliance and the Global Fund for Community Foundations.

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Feasibility Report

This feasibility scan was commissioned by Rawa and produced by Nancy Smith to assess the general financial viability of the Fund and inform the early decision-making process in the Fund’s development stage. The scan was based on desk research as well as comprehensive interviews with 24 philanthropy and program experts from North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

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Report on the 2015 Community Consultations

In 2015, Rawa representatives held dozens of community consultations on the ground with Palestinian community leaders, aiming to refine the support model mechanism and parameters of the fund.

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Of Interest

An ongoing list of articles, foundations, and organizations we find interesting or inspiring. What are you reading? Let us know.

ALTERNATIVE FUNDING

Curated resources on participatory grantmaking, peer-led funding, field-led approaches, donor-advised funds, impact investing, crowdfunding, activist funders, and so much more.

New Ways to Invest in Communities: Alternative Funding Models and Examples (.pdf download)

A resource created during Rawa's development period, presenting existing funding model and examples of funders taking alternative approaches to investing in communities. This resource was used during community consultations in Palestine as a basis for considering what types of community-led, participatory, and/or other models communities might want to adopt in innovating a new fund for the Palestinian context.

Sites of Interest

Pages to follow, subscribe to, and explore in-depth.

Indie Philanthropy
An extensive resource for learning about all things indie philanthropy. 

How Matters

Jennifer Lentfer's site for exploring and advocating for community-driven initiatives in international aid, philanthropy, and social enterprise. Also check out the book she edited, with co-editor Tanya Cothran: Smart Risks: How Small Grants are Helping to Solve Some of the World's Biggest Problems.

Alliance Magazine
News and analysis on philanthropy and social investment worldwide.

Open Democracy: Transformation
Frequent publisher of news and analysis of social justice activism and philanthropy from this independent global media platform with a human rights focus.

Community Foundation Atlas Infographics
Insights into community foundation data.

Doing Development Differently

Read the DDD manifesto and keep an eye on the blog. 

Foundations and Donor Alliances of Interest

A sampling of foundations and donor alliances that take innovative and interesting approaches to putting communities at the center of their work.

Global Fund for Community Foundations
Grassroots grantmaker promoting community philanthropy worldwide. 

Neo
Innovative funding connecting donors and grantees to achieve social justice.

Frida:The Young Feminist Fund
Youth-led fund strengthening women’s and gender equality movements and supporting young feminist activists globally.

Third Wave Fund
Activist, youth-led fund for gender justice, especially for communities of color and low-income communities. Positioning youth as philanthropic decision-makers, where they are usually absent.

Kindle Project
Outside-the-box grantmaking and additional support for creative approaches (think unconventional, brave, even “bizarre,” in their words) to change.

Red Umbrella Fund
The first global fund by and for sex workers, mobilizing resources for their human rights.

Build Palestine
Crowd-funding for grassroots problem-solving in Palestine.

Edge Fund
Grassroots grantmaking for social change. Their advice: “Let go! Let the community decide. It works!”

Dalia Association
Palestinian community foundation mobilizing resources (through community-controlled grantmaking) and encouraging giving for a vibrant, independent civil society.

The Funding Network
Organizing live crowdfunding events that connect donors to social change projects.

Philanthropy for Green Ideas
Annual award chosen by local people to support sustainable development projects in the Western Balkans.

Open Ideo
Partnering with leading organizations and using community forums to support the collaborative design of cutting-edge solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.

Root Change
Driving global social change through networking and collaboration, and putting control in local hands.

Start Network
Over 40 national and international aid agencies seeking a “new humanitarian economy”; giving more control to communities and individuals in developing approaches to reducing human suffering.

Social Justice Initiative
Partnering with large philanthropic foundations to support South African civil society organizations working on social justice projects.

Upstart Co-Lab
Connects artists with social entrepreneurs, impact investors, social enterprises, and sustainable companies to increase artists’ capacities as innovators and change-makers.

Flow Funding
An innovative approach to democratize philanthropy by encouraging money to flow in innovative ways through the hands of new funders.

Foundations for Peace
Activist funder network for indigenous peace building and social justice work.

 

Articles of Interest

Influential and interesting articles and reports on participatory and community-centered philanthropy, philanthropy trends, and other exciting alternatives that have shaped and continue to inspire Rawa’s own funding mechanism and governance structure.

Power Sharing in Philanthropy
In the September 2013 issue of Alliance magazine, Sophie Pritchard (from Edge Fund) describes different models for collboration and power sharing between donors and communities.

Why Every Funder Should Consider Participatory Grantmaking
Katie Love from WikiMedia Foundation and Kelley Buhles from RSF Social Finance explain the basics of participatory grantmaking.

Who Decides? How Participatory Grantmaking Benefits Donors, Communities, and Movements
A highly influential publication from The Lafayette Practice on the benefits of community-based decision-making practices.

Paradigm Shift: Participatory Grantmaking Comes of Age
Matty Hart of The Lafayette Practice describes the increasing interest (in 2014) in participatory grantmaking models, emerged from grassroots activism.

Deciding for All, or All Deciding
At the 2014 IHRFG conference in San Francisco, several funders convened a session for a packed room on the ‘how-to’ participatory grantmaking. Katy Love describes the ensuing conversations, including the notion that participatory grantmaking is not really new or innovative, it’s common sense!

Putting Grantees at the Center of Philanthropy
In-depth series of articles (produced in collaboration with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations) on community-centered grantmaking practices.

Global Communities’ Report on PACE
Describes the Participatory Action for Community Enhancement (PACE) method for community development.

Wikimedia Foundation's Participatory Grantmaking Model
A report that provides a comparative review of the Wikimedia Foundation's grantmaking model, which (at least at the time of writing the report) is the largest known participatory grantmaking fund. 

Participatory Grant Making: A Success Story from Southern Africa
A report on the benefits and challenges of a novel peer-review process developed and implemented by The Other Foundation, an African trust advancing human rights in southern Africa and focusing on LGBTI communities.

Who are the Future Philanthropists?
Guardian article by Liza Ramrayka on the new generation of donors, who seem to see risk-taking as an asset and who want to support communities and creative approaches that traditional funding has overlooked.

The Road to Successful Partnerships
Report commissioned by Global Philanthropy Project (GPP) on several peer-led models. GPP is a collaboration of funders and philanthropic advisors working to expand global philanthropic support to advance the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people in the Global South and East.

Exploring the How and Why of Participatory Grantmaking and Impact Investing
Nadia van der Linde (Red Umbrella Fund) shares conversations and insights from the 2015 International Human Rights Funders Group meeting in San Francisco.

What is a Restorative Philosophy?
Pia Infante brings the notion of restorative narratives (from a media context) into the philanthropy realm—what might a restorative, rather than extractive or episodic, investment look like?

Major Donors Need to Take Risks if Charities are to Tackle Social Problems
Drawing from a 2015 UK report on giving, Liza Ramrayka argues that foundations need to be bold if the solutions they fund are to make real impact.

Transforming Philanthropy: It’s Time to Get Serious
Fatima Van Hattum and Arianne Shaffer from the Kindle Project ask: “Is ‘social justice philanthropy’ an oxymoron?” They posit that funders should embody the change they want to see, model transformative economic relationships, and start more honest and equal conversations about philanthropy, and offer examples of funders following these tenets.

Nothing About Us, Without Us: Reversing the Power Dynamics of Philanthropy
Nadia van der Linde (Red Umbrella Fund) explains the power of democratizing the funding process, focusing on the work of The Red Umbrella Fund, a funding institution led by sex workers. Linde writes: “funders expect their grantees to be accountable to them, but it’s equally important to ensure that funders are accountable to the groups they support.”

Philanthropic Power Erosion: The Edge Fund Alternative
Sophie Pritchard (Egde Fund) argues for open acknowledgment of power and privilege as a tool for more equitable and impactful funding. Edge Fund works to eliminate the brutal competition often involved in funding by involving applicants in the decision-making process and encouraging funded groups to become Edge Fund members and donors.

Can Philanthropy Support the Transformation of Society?
Jennifer Buffett and Peter Buffett (NoVo Foundation) acknowledge a root problem in philanthropy: “Philanthropic foundations are beneficiaries of a system that fails to recognize the voices and contributions of people who are marginalized. Foundations are endowed with money that may have been made in unjust and harmful ways.” Combatting “philanthropic colonialism,” they argue, requires listening to and involving the communities, like Immokalee workers, often overlooked by foundations.

The Future of Community Philanthropy
Jason Franklin discusses becoming the first endowed chair (W.K. Community Philanthropy Chair) of community philanthropy, what community philanthropy means, and how to better serve communities. The Chair focuses on “advancing the work of community and public foundations, giving circles, donor networks, funder collaboratives, crowd funding platforms and others who are building and adapting vehicles for collective giving.”

Monitoring and Evaluating Participatory Grantmaking
This in-depth report offers insight into the Baring Foundation’s approach to participatory grantmaking via its investment in two indigenous funds related to LGBTI issues in Africa. One piece of advice yielded from the report is that PGM funds ought to “behave more as a regional investor than a funder and to a substantial extent ‘let go’.”

The Case for Community Philanthropy: How the Practice Builds Local Assets, Capacity, and Trust – and Why It Matters (.pdf download)
This report from the Global Fund for Community Foundations provides an overview of community philanthropy examples from Kenya to India to Slovakia to Brazil, gleaning a path to good outcomes and inspiring a call to action.

Understanding “New Power”
Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms write about a new form of power that, opposed to the closed currency of old power, held by a select few, runs like current—participatory and peer-driven. New funding models like peer-to-peer giving and crowd-funding are highlighted as forms of new power, as are more networked, informal approaches to governance, and more collaborative ways of doing pretty much everything.

The Philanthropy Outlook 2016 & 2017
Focused on the US, The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy researched and wrote this report, funded by Mars & Lundy, on the trends to keep an eye on to inform daily practice and longer-term planning in philanthropy. They suggest new types of partnerships and collaborating to succeed in a changing climate for philanthropy.

Fundraising Trends and Opportunities
Encourages diversification with “distributed, community-based giving,” a valuable insight for understanding how funders and communities can develop sustainable resources.     

Development of Red Umbrella Fund (.pdf download)

This .pdf report details the history of the (only) global sex worker-led fund, the Red Umbrella Fund. There is much to learn here, as they share donor-activist dialogues, hard-learned lessons, and novel approaches to empowering communities and collaborating.

International Development is a Loaded Term, It's Time for a Rethink

Jennifer Lentfer of Thousand Currents lays out the limitations in thinking of development from a western and profit-oriented – neoliberal – perspective. What's a better model? A shared approach toward collective action, looking to the people experiencing the world's worst problems for the best solutions to them, plus some practical solutions like unrestricted funds and multi-year timeframes.  

Why Grassroots Activists Should Resist Being "Professionalised" Into an NGO

Sunil Babu Pant explains how donor funds can lure human rights activists into formalization as NGOs, often leading to disempowerment and a compromised vision.

Collaborations
Mama Cash Executive Director Nicky McIntyre and Senior Programme Officer Esther Lever explores funding shifts toward collaboration and partnership amongst organizations, funders, and other stakeholders and how they benefit (and sometimes burden) feminist movements.

 

Tools for Creating Change

Influencing Complex Systems Change
By Natasha Winegar, Susan Misra, and Ashley Shelton.     

New Tactics in Human Rights Toolkit

This toolkit aims to help human rights organizations create effective strategies for their work. Check out New Tactics in Human Rights other resources for supporting human rights work while on their website. 

Tools for Harnessing Feedback from Constituents

Explore this free methodology created by Keystone that aims to provide organizations with simple ways to learn from constituents and improve. 

Rapid Response Grantmaking: A Tool for Grantmakers (pdf)

A 2012 paper from The Connect US Fund analyzing rapid response programs (including their own).

DEVELOPMENT AND AID IN PALESTINE

Readings on the history, present, and future of philanthropy and community development in Palestine.

A New Model for Palestinian Development
From Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network (another great resource to subscribe to), Samer Abdelhour describes the ‘ambiguous’ post-Oslo aid and development context in Palestine, cautioning that top-down approaches will “certainly lead to disappointing results for the majority of Palestinians.” The promise of Sustainable Local Enterprise Networks (SLENs) as a new model of development is discussed, which, like participatory grantmaking, prioritize collaboration, trust-based networks, relationship-building, and building capacity of all stakeholders. Abdelhour describes how “SLENs offer an alternative to traditional development activities that often have a narrow focus and undermine local generation of creativity, capabilities and self-reliance.”

Aid Watch Palestine
A vital resource for how to make international aid more accountable to Palestinians.

Can Oslo's Failed Aid Model be Laid to Rest? 
Writing in 2013, Jeremy Wildernman and Alaa Tartir describe the failed model of aid since Oslo: after over $23 billion dollars of investment, aid has brought neither peace nor justice to Palestinians. What can be done to dismantle and move past the Oslo economic model? What should a new aid paradigm look like? 

Militarization of Palestinian Aid
Nora Lester Murad and Alaa Tartir describe how aid to Palestine overwhelmingly upholds Israeli militarized occupation and undermines Palestinian rights, sovereignty, self-determination, and security. Offering policy recommendations for "reclaiming aid for human rights," they argue that "empowering Palestinians means equipping them with the tools to resist Israeli settler colonial rule and enhancing their capacities for solidarity, resilience and steadfastness. International aid actors must recognize and accept that development under military occupation and colonization means first and foremost a process of confrontation to realize rights, including the right to self-determination." 

Unwilling to Change, Determined to Fail: Donor Aid in Occupied Palestine in the Aftermath of the Arab Uprisings
Following on the above articles about aid since Oslo, and based on interviews with Palestine aid actors, Jeremy Wildeman and Alaa Tartir examine whether donor patterns to Palestine changed after the Arab Uprisings of 2011. 

How US Security Aid to PA Sustains Israel's Occupation
Alaa Tartir details how both US military and other forms of aid ultimately support Israeli occupation and undermine Palestinian security, underscoring the disingenousness of the concept of "security collaboration," ultimately meant to benefit Israel and leading to an increasingly authoritarian Palestinian Authority. What can be done? "A better allocation of aid alongside an investment in a just peace is the path to real and sustainable security," says Tartir. 

Funding in Conflict-Affected Environments
“How can independent philanthropy fund activities and initiatives in conflict-affected areas in order to promote and support peacebuilding?” This report from the Social Change Initiative seeks to answer this question, offering some valuable lessons that can inform new approaches to development and aid in Palestine.

Palestine Today Offers a Perfect Storm of Possibility
Nora Lester Murad, in this Counter Punch article, describes, among other “never befores” (Israel has never been so difficult for supporters to defend, the Palestinian Authority has never been more clearly an obstacle to Palestinian liberation, and never before has global solidarity like the boycott and sanctions movement been stronger) how “never before have international donors been more tired, over-stretched, and anxious for a viable alternative to the ‘peace process’ charade and the financial and political costs of going along with it.”

Decolonizing the Vocabulary of Palestinian Human Rights Work
Amjad Alqasis cautions Palestinian human rights organizations not to restrict their mandates to conform to Israeli-imposed legal categories of time and space, since doing so implicitly supports ongoing occupation, apartheid, and colonization.

Video

Donor Opium: The Impact of International Aid to Palestine

Directed by Mariam Shahin and George Azar, and funded by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, this documentary shows the chilling reality of how international aid has sustained Palestinian society while Israeli occupation becomes further entrenched, creating conditions that further fragment Palestinians and ulimately allow the occupation to continue unchallenged. 

Books

Taghdisi-Rad, S. (2011) The Political Economy of Aid in Palestine: Relief from Conflict or Development Delayed?, Routledge and LMEI, London, U.K.

Le More, A. (2008) International Assistance to the Palestinians after Oslo: Political Guilt, Wasted Money, Routledge, U.

Hever, S. (2010) The Political Economy of Israel's Occupation: Repression Beyond Exploitation, Pluto Press.

Nakhleh, K. (2011) Globalized Palestine: The National Sell-Out of a Homeland, The RedSea Press, Inc. 

Nakhlel, K. (2004) The Myth of Palestinian Development: Political Aid and Sustainable Deceit, PASSIA.

FAQ

Can my organization/project/idea apply for funding?

Rawa does not accept unsolicited proposals. In our aim to change the culture of development aid to Palestinian communities, funded projects and funding priorities are selected by community members on the ground, who represent diverse sectors and regions. These Community Cluster members draw from their knowledge and networks to find projects and initiatives that are organically arising to solve community development problems. In some cases, the process of seeking out projects to fund may lead to new partnerships, collaborations, and ideas; for instance, if two organizations or towns are seeking to solve a similar problem, the potential for Rawa funding might spark an innovative partnership, which could range from a cultural campaign, to an infrastructure project, to a social enterprise, to many other potential initiatives! While submitted proposals fall outside of our funding and support process (see the next question for more on that), we’re always interested in new work happening at the grassroots level, so feel free to let us know about your work. 

So…why don’t you have an open call like most funders?

Rawa aims to break the traditional funding cycle where donors set funding priorities and then communities on the ground compete for limited funds that often come with cumbersome reporting and documentation processes, lead to dependency, create silos of community development work, and make little impact on the ground. We developed Rawa’s model of support after a two-year process of researching different aid models around the globe and consulting with Palestinian community and philanthropy leaders to determine what would best meet Palestinian grassroots groups’ needs. We encountered an overwhelming response from grassroots groups that they are dissatisfied with or have lost hope in the traditional top-down funding approach, where community groups submit applications and closed-door decisions are made by a few people who may not be steeped in the local culture. By handing power over to Community Cluster members, we honor the knowledge and expertise of leaders and activists on the ground, who draw from their social capital, reputation, knowledge, and personal insight to make funding decisions. In similar models around the world, this proves to produce more trusting and equitable relationships between donors and recipients, and a more honest and democratic process. While submitted proposals fall outside of our funding and support process (see the above question for more on that), we’re always interested in new work happening at the grassroots level, so feel free to let us know about your work.  We understand that Rawa’s experimental approach is new and different, and will seem confusing or impenetrable to some; this makes sense, because so many of us are used to the traditional funding model. We believe the risk involved in this new path will be worth it, and we expect that some aspects will change during the experimental pilot period—we built in flexibility to make this possible. We welcome you to stick around, reach out to stay connected, and let us know you want to be involved!

How do you ensure transparency?

Since we are doing things differently and breaking a well-worn mold (see the above questions), it might seem like Rawa has created a closed model, since only our Community Cluster members make funding decisions. In fact, Rawa is flipping the usual script on its head by putting the power into the hands of the communities who will benefit from our global fundraising platform. We ensure transparency and accountability in our funding model by limiting Community Cluster member terms (if the pilot model is successful, 1/3 of the current members will rotate out each year), seeking out members from new sectors, backgrounds, and regions, new geographies, and so on, as well as through the democratic, responsive process through which projects are selected for funding and then guided through their implementation to seek out additional support they may need (like capacity building, technical assistance, additional funds, etc.). This website will continue to grow as a communication platform for sharing stories about Cluster members, the funding process, funded projects, and Rawa’s contribution to global discussions about alternative funding models that let communities decide. Financial information, including budgets and funding allocation, will also be available on the website for additional organizational transparency.

Why do we need a new organization to support Palestinian groups? Why not just raise international funds and then give them to Palestinian community foundations to disperse on the ground? 

We recognize there are a wealth of effective organizations on the ground in Palestine that have done tremendous work under dire conditions. While they may have a strong local focus, they tend to be disconnected from international networks of support and philanthropy that might be available to support Palestinian ingenuity and activism on the ground. Some are burdened by large administrations and traditional hierarchical modes of operation—after all, that’s been the only model available for supporting Palestinian society for some time. Rawa hopes to fill widely recognized gaps in community development support with a nimble, hybrid structure, which has light administration and is located both on the ground as well as in international circles. We want to compliment, not compete, with existing organizations by funding creative options that emerge from the Palestinian community development landscape, but that donors and international supporters have likely not been exposed to. We also want donors, from large and small foundations to individuals around the globe, to feel a real sense of belonging to a local community and a global network, and to get inspired and energized by a new holistic model of support. As we test out our pilot model, we aim to make it as easy and exciting as possible for donors to see where their support goes.

When will you make your first round of grants?

We’ve been hard at work for over two years at a primarily volunteer capacity to develop a model in tune with collective decision-making and community participation; ideally, we hope to raise enough funds to initiate first round by end of 2017. If you have the capacity to help support our launch, please let us know!

Rawa was envisioned as an initial three-year pilot—what happens after three years?

Well, we don’t know! When we describe Rawa as an experimental model, we mean it: we developed a pilot funding process through careful research and consultation, and over three years of implementation we will test it, evaluate it, make changes to improve it, and then see where to go from there. Once tested on the ground, the model could morph into platform for raising support in line with participation and grassroots decision-making values, it could be adopted by local and/or regional/international groups, it could register as its own organization and continue supporting creative Palestinian community development….we can’t envision all the possibilities in advance, but since this model was designed to respond to what communities have been asking for, we know it is worth trying.

How will you work with unregistered groups?

Rawa realizes that a great deal of creativity and civic engagement exist at the community level, and that to solve some community problems people come together and then disband. We want to be able to support such cross-sector, organically arising solutions without the (financial, administrative, political, etc.) burden that often comes with formalizing as a nonprofit. This doesn’t mean we will transfer funds to individuals or non-legal entities; collectives and informal groups will need to identify a local non-profit that will agree to take them under their umbrella (serve as a fiscal conduit). If groups are unable to identify such a partner, Rawa will look to its network of partners. As part of our work, we are continuously developing new partnerships with registered Palestinian organizations that have in principle agreed to act as fiscal conduits for such groups.

I’m an international donor: is it safe for me to donate to Palestine, especially in today’s political climate?

Small and big funders alike have been increasingly hesitant to send funds to Palestinian groups or the larger region, often because they need fiduciary and legal assurances that community groups cannot fulfill that their funding will end up in the right hands and not raise any red flags in their home country. As a hybrid model that exists on the ground and as a global philanthropy platform, Rawa is that assurance—through our formally registered fiscal sponsors in the US (Middle East Children’s Alliance) and Europe (Network of European Foundations), we are able to offer the formal fiduciary and legal assurances that support goes to either a US- or European-registered organization (depending on a donor’s location or preference) with decades of experience supporting Palestinian and Middle East groups, while abiding all international standards.

Don’t see your question here? Find your answer (and help us grow this list!)—contact us!

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