How can funders better support organisations working towards migrant justice?
Shreya Gautam joined PHF in the summer to lead on reviewing and planning our annual migration residential convening which brings together 100+ organisations and changemakers working towards migrant justice. In this blog, she reflects on funders’ role in facilitating connection, collaboration, and providing the organisations we fund with support beyond grants. Shreya invites those working on migration, asylum and refugee issues to share their views on how funders can best support their work.
As a young migrant working in philanthropy over the past three years, I have consistently questioned the role that funders play in driving positive movements around the world. Beyond questions that address immediate issues, how do we create spaces to discuss systemic issues and find ways to create the futures from our collective imagination? Do funders have a responsibility to provide support beyond grants to support grantees to make connections and strengthen their impact? Or are funders best suited to provide funding and no other support to avoid influencing grantee behaviour? Do funders in the UK and other former colonising countries bear additional responsibilities to respond to the consequences of imperialism and its connections to migration and displacement?
Since joining PHF earlier this year, I have continued to reflect on these questions as I review and help shape convening spaces for those working on migrant justice to explore new concepts, collaborate, strategise and rest.
Over the years, PHF grantees have expressed the need for more opportunities for collaboration and the important role funders play as convenors. In response to this, along with our colleagues at Unbound Philanthropy, from 2017 we started organising annual residentials as a space for us to come together and collaborate amidst an increasing hostile environment for migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum.
Feedback from these events have been highly positive, with most attendees sharing the importance of this space in promoting networking and an opportunity to learn more about what others are doing. Beyond a space to meet others working in this field, many attendees have spoken about the importance of having opportunities to have aspirational discussions about the future, while also acknowledging our current reality and the tangible ways to address the issues we are facing now.
This remains the case. Findings from PHF’s 2022 Center for Effective Philanthropy survey show that over a third of our grantees and applicants flagged the importance of convening as “possibilities for greater learning opportunities, as well as enabling potential collaborations and opportunities for peer support.”
This desire for spaces to foster collaboration and build relationships is not unique to the organisations we work with. As the migrant justice field grows, organisations have continued to the recognise the value of joint working. In their July 2023 report, our friends at Migration Exchange highlighted that “a number of NGOs called for more capacity in the sector to support equitable, collaborative campaigns.” However, this desire is coupled with a feeling that our sector is exhausted trying to respond to one crisis after another, while there is limited time to think longer-term and develop collective, forward-looking strategies.
Share your thoughts
As we plan for the next Residential in spring 2024, we are reflecting on these findings, conversations with grantees and funders, and previous feedback to help shape the event. This includes enhancing our wellbeing offer, creating more opportunities for attendees to spend time outdoors, and ensure the Residential centres anti-oppressive values and practice. But we want to go further. We would like to democratise the agenda-setting process for the upcoming Residential by seeking ideas and suggestions from those working on migrant justice.
If you would like to share your views, please fill in this survey by 15 December 2023.
Beyond our role as convenors, we are also considering how we can best support those working on migrant justice, so we continue to build a stronger, more resilient movement. We have partnered with our colleagues at AB Charitable Trust to better understand the kinds of support organisations and groups in this space find, or would find, the most useful in supporting their work going forward. Findings will be shared with funders and the wider field and help shape PHF’s approach going forward.
You do not need to be currently funded by PHF or AB Charitable Trust to complete the survey, as we are interested in hearing from a wider audience.
If you have any questions, please reach out to email@example.com.