Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

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Dalan Fund

A pooled fund for values-aligned funders seeking to support feminist movement building in response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
UUSC staff member speaks with fellow funders.

After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine commenced in 2022, a group of funders, activists, and advocates in the regions of Central and Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central and North Asia identified the need for strong feminist movement building, leadership, and organizing as critical to helping to address human rights violations in the region.

As part of UUSC’s long-term strategy in the region, we decided to support seeding the launch of a “pooled” or “collaborative ” regional fund as a vehicle of crisis preparedness and response that is intended to last for decades. The Dalan Fund aims to fill critical gaps in resourcing the region with holistic, long-lasting, and consistent movement-defined and movement-led strategies and participatory grantmaking mechanisms. The fund aims to strengthen the many movements addressing the impacts of Russian imperialism, redefine and expand the notion of crisis, go beyond silos and work on interconnected humanitarian and human rights crises, as well as crises of democracy, economy, care, and future visioning beyond survival. The Dalan Fund aims to support intersectional movements, in particular: feminists, LGBTQIA+people, Roma communities; people living with HIV, people with disabilities, migrants, refugees, ethnic, racial, climate, economic, gender, and labor justice organizers in the region. 

The idea behind a “collaborative” and “pooled” fund is that we work together to offer funding and support as a collective of funders and philanthropic organizations, rather than each institution creating individual grantmaking relationships to civil society organizations. The Dalan Fund is an invitation and offering to the funding institutions that came in response to the invasion of Ukraine, to stay in the region and trust the leadership, guidance, and visions of the movements within the region. The hope is that this reduces the significant burden on civil society organizations on the ground and 

The co-founders of the Dalan Fund are Angelika Arutyunova from Uzbekistan and Nino Ugrekhelidze from the nation of Georgia, both of whom have extensive experience organizing feminist movements in the region. Saadat Baigazieva is a feminist activist from Kyrgyzstan who joined the leadership team of the Fund this summer.

UUSC supported the seeding of this fund through an initial grant, and through connections and networking—the institution co-convened a workshop on the fund at the Human Rights Funders Network Conference in Mexico in 2021 and in 2022, at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women New York convening. UUSC’s work was vital to ensuring that a broad range of funders were aware of the new fund and that the fund had a wide base of donors. 

Image Credit: Voices Amplified 2021 Feminist Movement Convening