About the Fund

What is the Russia Freedom Fund?

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.

Why give?

  • 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. 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.

Who makes grantmaking decisions?

A committee made up of representatives from the world of philanthropy, including the Arcus Operating Foundation, 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 December, 2016