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Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.
The Global Fund for Women was a funding intermediary that made grants to seed, support, and strengthen women’s rights groups outside the United States. These groups worked to provide women with economic opportunities and independence, improve their health and reproductive rights, increase girls’ access to education, and stop violence against females. Since its first year of grantmaking in 1988, the Global Fund had grown rapidly, awarding more than $26.8 million to over 2,500 women’s rights groups in 160 countries as of 2002.
The Global Fund’s style of fundraising and grantmaking reflected its belief that local women could best determine their own needs and create solutions for lasting change. Kavita Ramdas joined the Global Fund in 1996 as its second president and CEO, succeeding cofounder Anne Firth Murray.
In her new role, Ramdas instituted a number of strategic, organizational, cultural, and process changes, while seeking to preserve the mission and values of the organization.
Organizational changes aimed at professionalizing the work of the Global Fund included recognizing the current staff’s contributions, expanding the staff in underrepresented knowledge areas, and creating a more defined structure and hierarchy.
Strategic changes in grantmaking included proactively involving external advisors from the field, giving larger and multiyear grants, and shifting to a discretionary grant-review timeline that would better meet the needs of potential grantees.
In the area of fundraising, the Global Fund embarked on the first phase of building a permanent endowment fund that would provide grantees and the organization with more security and longevity.
Looking ahead, Ramdas’ priorities included examining how to guide the Fund’s growth without losing the organization’s unique connections with donors, grantees, and staff. In addition, she hoped the Fund could do a better job of assessing grant outcomes and sharing success stories. Ramdas also wondered how the Fund could better influence critical policy-related decisions made in the broader external environment that affected important women’s rights issues.
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Case No: SI62