How It Began
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of eighteen. That’s 23 girls every minute. A third of these girls have not yet reached their fifteenth birthday.
A group of leading philanthropic institutions wants to change that. They recognize that to end child marriage once and for all, they need to fill a critical funding gap to community-based organizations. By coming together to create a pooled philanthropic fund, the partners can leverage their collective investments and create a way for other donors to join their efforts. They can make it easy for other donors to grant, learn, and raise the profiles of communities that are already making great strides in responding to and preventing child marriage and early unions.
With Geneva Global’s track record of establishing and running several successful philanthropic funds, the partners chose us to help them launch this ambitious initiative.
Instead of creating a new nonprofit entity, the founding partners decided to establish the Girls First Fund as a philanthropic fund within Capital for Good USA, a U.S. 501(c)(3) public charity. Services for the fund are provided by Geneva Global, including:
- Fund set up and strategy. To get the fund off the ground, we facilitated numerous strategy workshops to drive key conversations and gain consensus among the eight founding partners, which ultimately led to the development of the fund’s goals, objectives, vision, mission, and values.
- Branding and communications: We spearheaded the fund’s messaging and branding, and developed print and digital materials for its official launch at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeepers 2018 event hosted at the United Nations General Assembly.
- Operations and back-office support: From supporting the fund’s hiring of its director and program advisors to managing the collaborative’s financials, we ensured a smooth startup for the fund.
- Donor engagement: To support the fund’s ambitious fundraising goals, we conducted a rigorous landscape analysis of foundations and high-net worth donors, developed a pipeline of prospective donors, supported existing fund members with outreach to their networks, and created compelling donor communication materials to aid partners in their efforts to court new donors.
- Program design and grantmaking: Drawing on our extensive field experience, we provided critical information and advice to the fund’s board committee to support the selection of six countries where the fund will pilot grantmaking programs in 2019, and collaborated with the board committee to develop the fund’s theory of change and learning framework. We designed each program to be accessible for low-literacy and first-time funding applicants and recipients. This ensures we will be able to find and support the best grassroots organizations and girl-led groups working to end child marriage in their communities, rather than just the best grant writers.
As the Girls First Fund prepares for its pilot grantmaking year, Geneva Global will provide program management and other support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Dominican Republic, India, Nepal, Niger, and Uganda. This pilot approach will allow the fund to learn across a variety of different geographies and contexts. Throughout 2019, we will collaborate with girls, grantees, local stakeholders, and the fund’s board to improve its grantmaking and co-create the Girls First Fund’s multi-year strategy.