The Fund is a U.S. tax deductible vehicle for making financial contributions in support of the LGBT movement in Russia and efforts to combat discrimination and violence there based on sexual orientation and gender identity. One hundred percent of all donations will be paid out as grants. This initiative responds to growing concerns about recent state-sponsored discrimination in Russia and expresses solidarity between the international LGBT community and allies, and the Russian LGBT movement.
to immediately and directly support Russian LGBT organizations and their allies to combat violence and discrimination for a life with dignity and safety.
to express solidarity with a courageous movement in a time of growing crisis.
to support frontline LGBT Russians.
one hundred percent of contributions will go directly to Russian organizations engaged in creating a safe, respectful and inclusive society for LGBT Russians. The Arcus Operating Foundation covers all administrative costs.
What is the situation in Russia?
The situation for Russia's LGBT community is critical. Russian authorities have passed laws and taken other steps to make life as an openly gay person untenable: a 2013 law forbids distribution of any information in support of “non-traditional sexual relations” to minors, which can result in a ban on public demonstrations like pride marches or any type of public education on LGBT issues; and legislation forbidding gay and lesbian people from raising children, threatening the families of many Russian citizens, has also been proposed. As a result, anti-gay violence in Russia has risen and LGBT activists have been targeted for prosecution. Recent legislation that dramatically restricts the work of NGOs makes it more difficult than ever for Russian activists to stand up for LGBT rights. The response of the Russian LGBT community has been nothing short of inspirational. LGBT leaders, activists and allies have responded with principle, courage and determination, combining public activism, including peaceful demonstrations and LGBT cultural events, with strategic litigation and other actions.
Who can make financial contributions to the Fund?
Any individual, corporation or other organization can contribute. Checks should be made payable to “Arcus Operating Foundation” with memo reference to "Russia Freedom Fund", and mailed to Arcus Operating Foundation, 44 West 28th Street, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10001, United States. Credit card contributions can be made via this website. Financial contributions are tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
What are the Fund's priorities? How can a group apply for a grant?
The Fund’s core objective is to create a safe environment for LGBT people in Russia by supporting local groups that can be effective at combatting discrimination and violence. Financial support will allow these groups to address cases of discrimination and violence, to ensure that victims have access to legal support, and to take these cases to court. The Fund will also provide support to Russian organizations that work for longer term, systemic change in the status and treatment of LGBT people in the country, through public education and advocacy. While initiatives based outside Russia are eligible for funding, those led by Russia-based LGBT groups will be treated with priority. Lobbying, grants to individuals, and capital expenses (such as the purchase of vehicles) are not eligible in accordance with U.S. law.
Russia Freedom Fund generally supports projects that do not exceed USD 50 000 per year and have clear goals and outcomes. Grant decisions take into account the applicant's current and past budgets and financial history to ensure adequate implementation of the grant.
Request for Proposals, deadline: October 1, 2014, grant decisions can be expected in mid-November.
The Russia Freedom Fund has raised approximately $500,000, of which it has so far allocated about $300,000. RFF is launching a final request for proposals to distribute the remaining $200,000.
The Fund’s core objective is to create a safe environment for LGBT people in Russia by supporting local groups that can be effective at combatting discrimination and violence. Financial support will allow these groups to address cases of discrimination and violence by ensuring that victims have access to legal support, and are able to take their cases to court. The Fund will also provide support to Russian organizations that work for longer term, systemic change in the status and treatment of LGBT people in the country, through public education and advocacy. While initiatives based outside Russia are eligible for funding, those led by Russia-based LGBT groups will be treated with priority.
Most costs are eligible for funding, including rent, office expenses, travel, and personnel costs. Lobbying, grants to individuals, and capital expenses (such as computers and vehicles) are not eligible in accordance with U.S. law. Lobbying restrictions are generally understood as including calls to action for or against specific legislation, but they do not include litigation, the education of elected officials and the general public about existing legislation and the estimated impact of proposed legislation or other advocacy activities. RFF will indicate whether any of the proposed activities or expenses is ineligible for funding.
Project support is available for applicants registered outside the US. General operating support and project support are available for US organizations. Current Arcus and Russia Freedom Fund grantees are eligible to apply.
Proposals can be received at firstname.lastname@example.org in any format, as long as they conform to the eligibility criteria, are in English, and include the information below in (ideally) maximum three pages (plus budget):
a) Cover page/identification of the group: : name, country, website, address, contact person, form of registration (e.g. organization or private company with a charity purpose; only registered legal entities can apply), and a list of staff and board members with names and positions in the applicant legal entity (if no staff, then names and roles of volunteers)
b) Short description of the organization, , including accomplishments, capacity to implement the proposed project (e.g. experience on the topic, relevant human resources, or institutional partners)
c) Goal(s) oor what will be achieved in a set period of time (up to two years)
d) Main activities, timeline, and evaluation (how the applicant will measure whether the goals have been achieved). The project timeline can reflect up to two years, beginning January 1, 2015.
e) Total budget (USD) with a breakdown in main categories of expenses, what amount is requested from the Russia Freedom Fund, and what amount is already raised and from whom (if applicable).
All proposals must represent requests for a minimum of $10,000.
Any questions before and after sending an application should be sent to the same email address. After a positive decision on the application, the following documents will be needed to sign a grant agreement: (provide the document in the original language with notes in English specifying which document it is, (e.g. in the file name): articles of incorporation (or similar document), latest financial statements (audited, if available), EEO Policy (can be an internal approval of the sample policy provided below), organization annual budget, board list with affiliations, project staff list, date of fiscal year end.
Confidentiality: grant applicants and grant recipients based in Russia will not be named in any communications that can reach the public. The projects funded will be described to the public to ensure transparency of the work of the RFF.
Decisions are made by a committee comprising representatives from the world of philanthropy, including the Arcus Operating Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, the Council for Global Equality, International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe. Also reviewing proposals and offering recommendations are Russian representatives, acting in an individual capacity, who are deeply knowledgeable about the situation in Russia.
Who makes grantmaking decisions?
A committee made up of representatives from the world of philanthropy, including the Arcus Operating Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, the Council for Global Equality, International Lesbian and Gay Association-Europe, and Russian representatives, acting in an individual capacity, who are deeply knowledgeable about the situation in Russia.
Where is the Russia Freedom Fund housed?
The Fund emerged from a series of convenings of Russian and other organizations hosted by the Arcus Operating Foundation in New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles in September 2013. The Fund is housed at the Arcus Operating Foundation, a tax-exempt organization registered in the State of New York, which bears ultimate legal responsibility for this Fund. The AOF will contribute staff and other costs for the operation of the Fund, so that 100 percent of the funds raised are spent as grants.
RFF report on income and spending as of July 2, 2014
Projected income: $500,000 of which $351,000 received.
Sources: $140,000 from Human Rights Campaign T-shirt sales, $300,000 from two anonymous gifts, and $61,000 from nearly 500 individuals, organizations and ad hoc initiatives from the US and more than 20 countries.
Expenses: The Fund has no expenses and 100% of funds raised go to grants. Arcus Operating Foundation covers administrative costs and RFF Committee members donate their time.
$300,000 (rounded figure) has been awarded to date for 11 projects in amounts ranging from $4,000 to $45,000.
1. A Legal assistance program for human rights defenders in Russia facing financial hardship due to fines resulting from their work.
2. A fund for safety and security measures with a local group.
3. A program to increase protection from violence through human rights advocacy in a Russian region.
4. Legal assistance to bring a civil lawsuit against hate-speech in Russia.
5. A program for training, advocacy, public education, and direct services for the LGBT community in a Russian region.
6. Training in crisis intervention for Russian LGBT human rights defenders and rehabilitation of activists from burn-out (short term).
7. Support for a meeting of LGBT-Christians and development and publication of related materials.
8. Legal assistance, including litigation, to change documents as regards gender identity, and awareness raising regarding transgender people’s human rights in Russia.
9. An online portal/platform to collect and systematize information about the Russian LGBT movement.
10. Organizational development and a forum for LGBT Christians from Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
11. A website with locally-produced materials reflecting on how LGBT people in Russia live.
Because of the security threats to Russian people and institutions that are supportive of the human rights of LGBT people, grant amounts and recipients are not disclosed.