New Report: Rapid Response Funding Works

For Immediate Release: Monday, December 11, 2017

Contact: Kawana Lloyd, 240-472-2860,

One Year and $1 Million Dollars Later, Top Donor Networks Reveal Success of “Emergent Fund” Rapid Response Model

San Francisco, CA — Today, the Women Donors Network released a report in conjunction with Solidaire, Threshold Foundation, and the Democracy Alliance on a new rapid response fund model, launched in the weeks following Trump’s election. The new report, “Visionary Resistance: Inside the Rapid-Response Model of The Emergent Fund,” explores what made the new model successful, what other philanthropists can learn from its first year, and how by changing hierarchical forms of grantmaking, philanthropists can better reflect the communities they want to support.

The Emergent Fund was created and is funded through a partnership between the Women Donors Network, Solidaire, Threshold Foundation, and the Democracy Alliance.

“The Emergent Fund started as a way to provide rapid funding responses to the new threats posed by the 2016 election results that presented immediate threats to a wide range of communities who were belittled, criminalized and attacked during the presidential campaign – immigrants, women, Muslim and Arab-American communities, Black people, LGBTQ communities, and all people of color,” said Donna P. Hall, president and CEO of the Women Donors Network. “The characteristics of this rapid-response model works to build up a new future in funding alternatives for communities facing injustice.”

Within six months, WDN granted $1 million to 50 diverse organizations on the front lines of the resistance — from funding Channel Black, a project of #BlackLivesMatter training the next generation of Black spokespeople for the resistance, to supporting mass-training to combat Islamophobia with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), and helping build the political power of undocumented Americans, immigrants, and Dreamers with JOLT, Mijente, and the Southeast Asian Freedom Network.

Key Takeaways from the Report:

  • Shorter and less burdensome application processes are something grantees want and need to be effective at rapid response work.
  • Engaging groups most affected by this political moment in the leadership and decision-making of the Emergent Fund allowed for more effective and agile grant-making that better served the needs of the most impacted communities.
  • Fast access to larger amounts of general-support funding were key to grantee success with the Emergent Fund. Traditional rapid response funds often give less  than$5K. The Emergent Fund average grant size was $25,000 — giving many grantees the opportunity t go big when it was needed most.

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The Women Donors Network is a community with a purpose — together we connect, learn, and take action to further our shared vision of a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.

More on WDN’s core values:

WDN supports the human rights call for full environmental, racial, social, political, economic, class, gender and sexual orientation equity for all. We envision a caring and balanced global society that is built upon the principles of democracy, generosity, diversity, trust, and mutual respect. We are committed to the inclusion of diverse voices and perspectives, recognizing that an intersectional approach is essential to the success of the progressive movement. WDN centers and elevates women’s ability to fully participate in society. We believe in supporting movement-building work to bring about systemic, sustainable change.

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