Beneficiaries in charge

Cullagh Warnock and Samantha Rennie

A charitable fund set up to benefit women and girls in the UK is using participatory grantmaking to allocate its Justice and Equality Fund.

When Rosa (UK) was asked to deliver a crowd-funded programme to address sexual harassment and abuse, we knew that how we made awards could be as important as what we funded. We used participative grantmaking approaches, both to design the programme and to make decisions on some grants. We found the process to be surprisingly straightforward and we learned a lot along the way. As well as funding some great projects, we think this approach contributes to movement building and a sense of shared endeavour and we will be doing more of it.

The Justice and Equality Fund (The JEF)

Early in 2018, as momentum gathered behind movements such as #metoo, Time’s Up, Ni Nunca Mas and the #lifeinleggings, a group of UK-based women from the entertainment industry came together to challenge the culture that permits people in positions of power to sexually harass and abuse others. Speaking from experiences of harassment and discrimination in theatre, film and TV, they wanted to put a spotlight on harassment and abuse and, crucially, they wanted to work alongside the activists and women’s organisations who had long campaigned on these issues. Rosa UK (the first and only UK-wide fund for women and girls, already making grants to organisations run by, for and with women) was the obvious choice to help. We were asked to set up and manage what became the Justice and Equality Fund (The JEF) and together we set up a crowdfunding site which, with the help of donations large and small, has so far raised £2.7 million. A large chunk of this came from donations by actor Emma Watson and Comic Relief, both of whom contributed £1 million.

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