Foster Enhanced Advocacy Efforts
Advocates are passionate and fully committed to their mission. These attributes are critical to complex, long-term efforts. However, advocates and advocacy organizations are often so focused on their day-to-day work – work that shifts frequently as opportunities, barriers, and crises emerge – that sometimes they do not have time for reflection. Tools and resources that can inform advocacy are not always well disseminated or readily accessible. Wellspring programs support on-the-ground advocacy and efforts to improve how advocacy is conducted.
Wellspring supported the creation and dissemination of innovative tools and tactics to expand human rights, enabling the human rights movement to continue to evolve in response to new challenges and actors. Strategic investments led to the creation of a new manual on how to work with diaspora communities to document human rights violations, as well as the refinement and dissemination of a community-driven “Human Rights Impact Assessment” tool.
Wellspring investments support strategic communications training for grantees emphasizing how research into audience perception and message effectiveness can lead to increased persuasion and success. In addition to helping grantees develop more effective communications campaigns, Wellspring’s support is helping to build partnerships between research organizations and civil society organizations.
Globally, Wellspring has supported the creation of tools and guidelines to help children in areas of armed conflict. These tools and guidelines include a package of resources for humanitarian agencies to better equip them to submit cases to the United Nations in instances of human rights violations involving children.
Establish Effective Policies and Standards
A specific policy change often is the “end goal” of an advocacy strategy. However, targeted policy changes are often necessary but not sufficient to bring about enduring social change.
Once in place, policies and standards need to be implemented effectively, adopted by a broader set of stakeholders, protected, and enhanced. Wellspring programs support efforts to establish new policies and standards, increase awareness and adoption of existing policies and standards, and enhance and expand the rights and protections addressed by policies and standards.
To reverse the well-documented long-term impact of child poverty, Wellspring invests in efforts to increase and improve the social safety net for low-income children, including improving tax credits to raise family incomes, expanding healthcare coverage for children, and ensuring food security.
Wellspring supported the creation of standards for education to ensure access to quality learning opportunities for children living in areas of armed conflict.
In the United States, Wellspring has supported work to coordinate a network of national and state actors working across social justice movements, including LGBT, labor, and economic justice, to support inclusive definitions of families in workplace leave policies. The network has created model definitions and toolkits for state and local campaigns, convened advocates, and developed messaging and talking points.
Build a Strong Evidence Base
Nonprofits and advocacy organizations seek to understand whether and how their interventions, strategies, or programs are likely to be efficient or effective. This happens because either the evidence doesn’t exist or it has not been disseminated to a degree that makes it readily available and actionable.
To establish a strong evidence base, Wellspring programs support efforts to create knowledge, disseminate knowledge uniquely tailored to key audiences, and facilitate the adoption of knowledge depending on what is needed in a particular field.
In response to a significant gap in understanding how to prevent intimate partner violence, Wellspring invested in critical research to identify promising interventions that could save lives and lead to better understanding of how to decrease such violence. This work enables advocates and providers working to end violence against women to understand effective tactics and to implement those tactics through evidence-based prevention programs.
Research supported by WPF demonstrated the unique vulnerabilities of LGBT youth in juvenile justice systems. Not only are they overrepresented in the juvenile justice population, they are also more likely to be physically and sexually abused. As a result, organizations working to end youth incarceration are paying increasing attention to the particular needs of such youth.
Wellspring supported work focused on improving research transparency to increase scientists’ accountability, accelerate knowledge accumulation, and increase efficiency in resource management – both resources directed to scientific research and those directed to applying that research for social change.
Change Social Norms and Public Opinion
Long-term, sustainable progress requires changes in the attitudes or behaviors of a broader swath of the public to support and encourage the work of government, nonprofits, and opinion leaders.
Wellspring programs assess whether changes in public opinion or social norms are relevant to achieving long-term goals, support efforts to shift social norms through a range of strategies, and encourage grantees to document and measure how their work affects social norms.
Through investments in research on the relationship between stigma and disability, Wellspring supported projects paring disability rights organizations and academia to explore questions of disability in Africa and the effects of social stigma. The goal of the research is to inform efforts to change the attitudes of the public, policymakers, and families toward people with disabilities.
In the United States, Wellspring invested in efforts to elevate stories of committed, loving same-sex couples who were harmed by the marriage ban. Pioneering the art of digital storytelling, Wellspring ensured that advocacy campaigns to secure marriage equality succeeded not only in the court of law but also in the court of public opinion.
Wellspring supported research to look at the processes by which social networks protect and reinforce beliefs that might obstruct development. For example, what sustains a culture within a Ministry of Education in which learning outcomes are not a concern of teachers or administrators? How does one disrupt these beliefs?
Facilitate Field Building
Social change and progress depend on healthy, functioning organizations working collaboratively to achieve ambitious goals. Wellspring selects grantees that it believes are well-positioned to contribute to the achievement of these collective goals.
While the bulk of our funding goes directly to social change work, some grantees also need organizational development support to ensure they have effective programmatic and operational systems and practices in place to achieve their goals.
Similarly, some organizations benefit from assistance that enables them to better engage with their field and make connections at the local, national, regional, and international levels. Wellspring programs develop and manage grants, facilitate capacity-building support, and dedicate time and resources to help establish and maintain strategic, coordinated engagement at the field level.
Wellspring convened child rights network and coalition leaders to share experiences, facilitate cross-learning, and encourage cooperative action. In addition, Wellspring supported work to explore different approaches to evaluating networks and coalitions to help grantees strengthen their work.
Wellspring investments have enabled women’s funds – philanthropic organizations that empower women and girls around the world – to develop new monitoring and evaluation tools, more effective communications practices, and innovative resource mobilization strategies.
Wellspring often provides unrestricted general operating support funding. Social change work is not linear. Contexts change; windows of opportunity open and close. “Gen Ops” support gives grantees the flexibility to make strategic pivots. This type of support also is useful when capacity building is needed. Grantees can use general operating support to strengthen organizational systems that cannot be funded through grants designated for specific streams of work.