Frequently asked questions
You have questions. We have a vision. Let’s dive in.
Why is the Equality Fund needed?
All around the world, feminist movements are building solutions to the most pressing problems of our time. Yet only a tiny fraction of development assistance, philanthropy, and investment capital directly supports their work. What little funding is available is often deeply unreliable, subject to onerous restrictions, and forever vulnerable to shifting priorities and political environments. Every day, many of our planet’s most promising change makers are systematically denied power and resources, putting everyone’s future at risk.
We believe feminist movements deserve support that is as revolutionary and reliable as they are. Money is an important form of power, and shifting power to feminist leaders demands that we fundamentally shift the ways that money flows into their hands. It is time for collective courage to break with funding approaches of the past and unlock new capital for lasting change. It is time to be bold, and we have no time to lose.
How is the Equality Fund different?
Our goal is to build the largest self-sustaining fund for gender equality in the world. Traditional charity models keep money and power at the top, leaving women’s organizations starved for steady funding and control over their future. The solution is about mobilizing more resources, but it is also about betting big on an entirely new funding strategy that liberates our movements from dependency on broken models of the past.
We are bringing together leaders from every sector to construct a fundamentally different kind of funding model—one that unites gender-lens investing, bold government funding, and powerful, multi-sector philanthropy to unlock new capital for feminist movements globally. Even as we design and build this new approach, we are ramping up a grantmaking strategy to get money out the door to feminist leaders who need resources right now. And we are calling for courageous philanthropy to fund the urgent and emergent needs of women’s movements, today.
Over time, the returns generated by our investment arm will finance our grantmaking, demonstrating the unique power of the Equality Fund model to deliver sustainable and scalable funding for women’s movements for as long as it takes to build the world we need.
Creating something from scratch will take patience and persistence. Together, we are up to the job.
How does the Equality Fund work?
Feminist movements deserve reliable and flexible funding. Investors want opportunities to generate profit while also supporting gender equality. Philanthropists are hungry for new and meaningful ways to improve the lives of women, girls, and non-binary people. At the Equality Fund, our job is to unite these three powerful forces for change in one model that can advance gender equality everywhere.
We provide core, flexible funding to women’s organizations and feminist movements. We trust deeply in local knowledge and support efforts rooted in local culture, history, and realities. As our funding model grows, our grantmaking will expand and deepen across the globe.
We offer philanthropists everywhere an opportunity to activate their support for an unprecedented model to advance global gender equality. Philanthropy will play a critical funding role in our first five years, allowing us not only to design and build a model for the future, but to make critical grants right now.
Our new investment arm will offer investors, and the Equality Fund itself, opportunities to generate financial returns and improve the lives of women simultaneously. As these returns make the Equality Fund sustainable, we will also strive to influence the wider investment industry, moving gender-lens investing from the margins to the mainstream.
Where does the Equality Fund—and its funding—come from?
We combine a long track record of trust with a bold investment in the future, all rooted in Canadian values.
In 1976, two courageous Canadian women formed what would eventually become The MATCH International Women’s Fund, a groundbreaking effort to connect Canadian women philanthropists to grassroots women leaders around the world. Over forty years later, the Canadian government took an unprecedented step of its own, promising to contribute up to $300 million CAD to the most innovative effort to harness public and private support for feminist movements.
Inspired by the government’s bold call for proposals, The MATCH Fund quickly incubated a new collective of leaders with a plan to harness the power of investment, philanthropy, and grantmaking to build a gender-equal world. In 2019, that collective, known as the Equality Fund, was selected by the government to receive its historic $300 million CAD commitment.
All at once, the announcement united the largest single investment ever made by a government in global feminist movements with an organization holding four decades of deep experience with women leaders on the ground. Learn more.
What does the Equality Fund support?
Our funding seeks to strengthen feminist movements at every level. We will support individual organizations building collective power in their communities; women’s and feminist funds that provide a critical lifeline for this work; and the coalitions and networks that bring all these different groups together to strategize and take bold action.
We plan to introduce a total of four grantmaking streams through 2024 that will support such organizations, both emerging and well-established, working around the world. Learn more.
Additionally, the Equality Fund supports women’s rights and LBTIQ organizations in the Caribbean through our Women’s Voice and Leadership – Caribbean program. Learn more.
Where do you fund?
In this first chapter of our growth, funding for the Equality Fund comes primarily from Global Affairs Canada. As such, the grant support that we can provide is directed to organizations based in countries considered eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA). These and all other funding criteria are clearly outlined each time we release a call for proposals. Sign up to be notified of new funding opportunities in the future.
In the Caribbean, we fund women’s rights and LBTIQ organizations through our Women’s Voice and Leadership – Caribbean program.
Across Africa, we work closely with the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), a member of the Equality Fund collective that supports women’s rights and feminist groups throughout the African continent. Organizations based in Africa should apply to AWDF directly. Please note that AWDF accepts grant applications year-round, but only processes applications twice a year. Learn more about our partnership with AWDF here.
Will the Equality Fund be funding women's organizations in Canada?
How can I stay informed of future funding opportunities?
What does the Equality Fund invest in?
Much like a foundation or endowment, the Equality Fund’s investment portfolio is invested in different asset classes and investments to provide a mix of near-term yield and long-term growth. Our investment strategy focuses on bonds, public equities, private debt, and private equity and venture capital funds.
How do I apply for investment?
The Equality Fund does not currently invest directly in startup ventures nor established businesses. Part of our investment strategy includes investing in private equity and venture capital funds with a gender lens that in turn invest in companies and startups. That part of our strategy is under development and we’re excited to share more information in the future. Sign up to receive news and updates from the Equality Fund.
What is the Equality Fund’s gender lens as it relates to investments?
Through its investments, the Equality Fund will strive to change how capital is deployed and who it benefits. The Equality Fund will focus on how it can advance the rights of women and girls and create favourable conditions for them to thrive, and in turn, create value.
The Equality Fund is working toward generating the following system-wide outcomes:
- By increasing access to capital for women-led businesses or borrowers and previously overlooked populations, the Equality Fund will empower women as entrepreneurs and business owners and grow the number and size of women-founded/led organizations.
- By scaling products and services that support women and girls and investing in companies that produce goods and services that benefit women, the Equality Fund will help foster a healthier, independent quality of life.
- By addressing structural inequality and investing in public companies that elevate women into decision making and investment roles, with real agency to affect meaningful enterprise change, the Equality Fund will accelerate the growth of gender-inclusive organizations as well as safe and discrimination-free workplaces. This in turn will multiply the opportunities for women to engage in the workforce and supply chains, to access leadership roles, and to participate in key decision and investment-making roles.
How can I invest in the Equality Fund?
If you wish to make an unrestricted donation to the Equality Fund to support our long-term sustainability model, it can be added to our investment assets, the income from which will fund grants to women’s rights organizations and feminist movements and the capital will help sustain our efforts over the long-term. An unrestricted donation to the Equality Fund could also be used more immediately to support our grantmaking program and operational costs.
In the future, it will also be possible to invest alongside the Equality Fund. We are presently developing our strategy to invest in private equity and venture capital funds with a gender lens. By designing and building innovative investment vehicles in line with our gender lens, we will offer investors the opportunity to generate profit and advance gender equality simultaneously.
We plan to share more about our investment strategy and portfolio in the future, in hopes that more investors will invest like the Equality Fund and make gender equality a priority. Sign up to receive news and updates from the Equality Fund.
Impact, Structure, and Operations
What is the ‘Design and Build’ phase?
Design and Build is the first major phase of our organizational growth. It encompasses the first five years of the Equality Fund and includes many foundational steps and processes—from establishing our core governance structures, to building out our programs (grantmaking, philanthropy, investment), to establishing our voice and brand, and setting plans for accountability and key milestones.
How will the Equality Fund ensure that there is local impact and data to show it?
The Equality Fund is developing an overall monitoring, evaluation, and learning strategy that is deeply grounded in feminist principles. We’re taking an ambitious approach and looking to understand and track our impact across all three major programs: grantmaking, philanthropy and investment. This is an essential focus of our Design and Build phase and we will have much more to share as this work continues.
Where is the Equality Fund based? Do you have offices outside of Canada?
We have offices in Ottawa and Toronto, Canada. Our team also works remotely from Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Antigua. We do not plan to establish formal offices in other countries.
How is Global Affairs Canada (GAC) involved in the Equality Fund? Will they sit on the Equality Fund board, for example?
Global Affairs Canada does not have a seat on the Equality Fund’s Board of Directors. Through consistent monitoring and reporting to GAC, we ensure the careful and effective stewardship of its historic $300 CAD contribution.
Even more fundamentally, we work as close collaborators with GAC, sharing learning and best practices. Given the emphasis in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy on working with and supporting local women’s rights organizations, we hold many shared objectives and interests, and are regularly exchanging knowledge, updates, and ideas.
What is the Equality Fund Collective?
The Equality Fund Collective represents the eleven organizations that came together to respond to Global Affairs Canada’s Partnership for Gender Equality initiative. Learn more.
What is the Equality Fund Consortium?
The Equality Fund Consortium refers to the three organizations—the Equality Fund, Toronto Foundation, and World University Services Canada—that co-signed an agreement with the Government of Canada to ensure the effective stewardship of its $300 million CAD contribution. Learn more.
Getting Involved and Contacting Us
How can I volunteer?
We are a powerful community of changemakers—and we are excited for you to join us!
As the Equality Fund is in the process of designing and building our programs, we may from time to time have opportunities for volunteer help. If you are interested, please send us an email and let us know how you would like to contribute and we will get in touch.
Can I donate to the Equality Fund?
Yes! The Equality Fund is developing a robust feminist philanthropy program, and we would love to have you join our community. You can donate here and get an immediate tax receipt. You can also contact someone on our philanthropy team to get more information about our specific programs.
Can I organize a fundraising event?
Yes! For information on how to organize a fundraiser in support of Equality Fund, please contact our team at [email protected]