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.
- 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 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 “Russia Freedom Fund c/o Arcus Operating Foundation” 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.
- Click here to see the call for applications.▼
- The Russia Freedom Fund (RFF) is launching a general call for applications
- The eligibility criteria are listed here on the RFF website and will be updated periodically. Currently they are:
Most costs are eligible for funding, including rent, office expenses, travel, and personnel costs. Lobbying, grants to individuals, and capital expenses (such as the purchase of 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 applicant’s proposed activities or costs are not eligible for funding.
Project support is available for applicants registered outside the US. General operating support and project support is available for US organizations.
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) a 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) or 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)
- 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).
The minimum amount to apply for is one thousand US Dollars. There is no maximum amount; so apply for what you need and RFF will select the applications it can fund, based on the eligibility criteria and the funds available.
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:
(For non-US applicants) A copy of documents 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, EEO Policy (can be an internal approval of the sample policy provided below).
(For US-based organizations) Organization budget, board list with affiliations, Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Policy (sample provided below), latest financial statements, fiscal sponsorship agreement, if applicable.
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.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Policy Statement (sample)
It is the policy of [org. name] to promote and ensure equal employment opportunity for all persons without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, age,gender identity and/or expression, partnership status, pregnancy, national origin, alienage, citizenship status, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, veteran status, political affiliation, arrest or conviction record, or status as a victim of domestic violence, stalking or sex offenses; or any other characteristics protected by law. Equal employment opportunity principles govern all aspects of the (org. name)’s personnel policies, operational and programmatic practices. All phases of employment, including recruitment, hiring, compensation, evaluation, promotion, transfer, assignment, training, tuition assistance, benefits and separation, shall be conducted in compliance with equal employment opportunity laws and regulations.
Who makes grantmaking decisions?
A committee made up of representatives from the world of philanthropy, including the Arcus 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 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.