Sigrid Rausing Trust: Recognizing Context

The Sigrid Rausing Trust strengthens its understanding of contextual factors facing grantees by working with sub-grantors in regions and combining that with in-house program staff research. “For us the value of working with a sub-grantor is usually they’re very close to where the ultimate beneficiaries are going to be so they have the advantage of understanding more about the context than we do ourselves,” says Beth Fernandez, programme officer, LGBTI Rights/Xenophobia and Intolerance.  It’s also a way for her program to give funds to small grassroots groups that don’t have the infrastructure to attract or manage funds. “For example, sometimes we come across LGBTI groups in regions of the world that not really able to access donor funding because they don’t have staff,” says Fernandez. “They haven’t ever fundraised properly before. At the same time these groups are part of the LGBTI movement locally that needs to be encouraged to grow. In these types of situations we start looking around to see if there other funders interested in doing this work who might act as intermediaries.”

Staff at the trust augment their understanding of contextual factors in different regions by undertaking in-house research. “Every time staff does a study we’re increasing our own learning,” says Fernandez. “I’ve just done one, looking at a particular region of the world and what our foundation can do there. While it’s time consuming, the process of making contacts, talking to people, forming impressions builds our internal capacity to do the eventual work. It’s also about using the staff you have and conserving the maximum amount of budget to go out to grantees in the field. This is something that our trustees feel very strongly about.”