Disability Rights Fund Inc.

aka DRF   |   Boston, MA   |  https://www.disabilityrightsfund.org

Mission

The Disability Rights Fund supports persons with disabilities around the world to build diverse movements, ensure inclusive development agendas, and achieve equal rights and opportunity for all.

Notes from the nonprofit

According to data from HRFN and Candid, only 2% of human rights funding from foundations goes to persons with disabilities. They note in their latest report, "In an era where more funders are talking about disability rights, we wonder whether rhetoric will translate to grant dollars in the years ahead." DRF can help donors be more inclusive--reach out if you'd like to learn more.

Ruling year info

2011

Founding Executive Director

Ms. Diana Samarasan

Main address

89 South Street, Suite 203

Boston, MA 02111 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-5026293

NTEE code info

Disabled Persons' Rights (R23)

International Human Rights (Q70)

Disabled Persons' Rights (R23)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Disability Rights Fund (DRF) launched in 2008 to support persons with disabilities around the world to build diverse movements, ensure inclusive development agendas, and achieve equal rights and opportunity for all. As a participatory grantmaker with persons with disabilities at all levels of decision-making, DRF is focused on shifting the paradigm about disability from charity to rights. Through grantmaking, advocacy, and technical assistance, DRF supports organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Caribbean to use global rights and development frameworks to address inequality and achieve rights and inclusion. DRF is the only global funder focused exclusively on disability rights.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Grantmaking

DRF primarily supports organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) through our pooled fund grantmaking, which combines resources from multiple governmental and private donors to provide modest funding to OPDs. We use a participatory grantmaking approach; funding decisions are made by DRF’s Grantmaking Committee—a mix of representatives from donors and global leaders with disabilities. Together with the Board, the Grantmaking Committee also reviews and updates grantmaking guidelines annually. Pooled fund grants are made through three funding streams: Small Grants, Mid-Level Coalition Grants, and National Coalition Grants. Small Grants ($5,000 - $20,000 for new grantees, and up to $30,000 for repeat grantees) help to broaden and diversify the disability movement through support to grassroots, emergent, and marginalized groups of persons with disabilities. The additional funds now available to repeat grantees reflect a new opportunity for core funding that we created in response to the pandemic. Mid-level ($30,000 - 40,000 per year; $60,000 - $80,000 over two years) and National Coalition ($30,000 - 50,000 per year; $60,000 - 100,000 over two years) grants support coalitions of at least three OPDs undertaking advocacy at sub-national or national levels to advance legislative action, policy reform, government programs (including development programs), and budgetary frameworks that better protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities. National Coalition grants also support coalitions of at least three OPDs leading monitoring of rights achievement and inclusive development through reporting to UN human rights and development mechanisms.

Grantmaking through non-pooled funds includes the Uganda Capacity Fund ($5,000 - $20,000), Strategic Partnerships (up to $300,000), Special Opportunity Grants ($2,500 - $35,000), Grantee Convening Grants ($5,000 - $30,000), and Technical Assistance Grants ($14,000 - $30,000). These grants are recommended by Program Officers and approved by the Non-Pooled Fund Grants Board Committee. The Uganda Capacity Fund supported through Wellspring funding has been particularly valuable to DRF’s grantmaking strategy development. We saw how valuable this extra resourcing for organizational capacity building could be to especially emergent, grassroots, and marginalized OPDs, which helped to inform our OPD Strengthening funding stream ($500 - $15,000), launched at the start of 2020. We used experience from the UCF model to build this funding stream to support especially pooled fund grantees to address high risk areas of organizational capacity, including safeguarding and financial management.

In the past year across all grantmaking streams, DRF and DRAF (our sister fund) made a combined 193 grants to 124 unique OPDs and partner organizations totaling $3,058,555. The largest grant was $132,000 for the Disability Justice Project (Strategic Partnership Grant), and the smallest was $500 to several recipient OPDs (OPD Strengthening Grants).

Population(s) Served
Women and girls
People with disabilities
Indigenous peoples
LGBTQ people

DRF’s Technical Assistance Strategy aims to increase grantee technical knowledge on, and skills for, advocacy on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and SDGs, to increase grantee knowledge and skills to monitor human rights and inclusive development processes, and to build grantee capacity to form alliances within and across movements. Our focus is on three objectives:
- Resource and/or facilitate tailored technical assistance to grantees in priority focus areas in line with DRF/DRAF country strategies, overall Strategic Plan, and results framework;
- Support and/or resource national umbrella organizations to coordinate and facilitate technical assistance with members of the movement they lead; and
- Integrate technical assistance planning, implementation and monitoring into DRF/DRAF’s systems.

Population(s) Served

National and local level advocacy is supported through grantmaking, technical assistance, and program oversight by DRF and DRAF personnel who are, in the main, disability activists in their countries. Advocacy at this level is led by and prioritizes rights advocacy goals of OPDs in target countries. National and local level advocacy priorities are articulated through Country Strategy Objectives tailored to each country and developed in consultation with the movement. Beyond supporting grantees to drive the change they want to see in their countries, advocacy at this level is also contributing to more inclusive and diverse movements, and influence at regional and global levels through, for example, engagement in Voluntary National Reviews, and UN human rights treaty alternative reporting.

Regional level advocacy, to date, has been supported on an ad hoc basis through grantmaking and technical assistance. In future, we seek to prioritize participation by persons with disabilities, particularly marginalized voices, in key regional fora to influence more inclusive and rights based regional mechanisms, such as the SAMOA Pathway, Africa Commission and ASEAN. We will also support engagement in regional human rights and inclusive development mechanisms, such as the Regional Forums for Sustainable Development.

Global level advocacy is undertaken by DRF and DRAF personnel, together with movement leaders, including those most marginalized, to influence decisions, policies, practices and resourcing of global actors and to raise awareness and visibility of the activism of persons with disabilities from the Global South towards increasing their participation. Our regional and global advocacy draws on, supports, and informs the advocacy of our grantees and program staff at national and local levels, and vice versa.

Our strength is in our experience as a participatory grantmaker inclusive of persons with disabilities at all levels, and as a long-term funder of disability rights movements in the developing world, with reach to the most marginalized persons with disabilities. We will leverage these strengths in our advocacy at regional and global levels to focus on four priorities going forward:
1. Voices of and knowledge about those most marginalized in the disability movement being front and center of dialogue, decision making, and resourcing
2. Increasing dialogue and understanding about the intersectionality of rights
3. Mobilizing disability-inclusive funding and resources across target actors
4. Ongoing monitoring and learning, together with grantees, to adjust our advocacy in response to changing contexts

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Indigenous peoples
Women and girls
LGBTQ people

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of changes to national level legislation, policies and government programmes (including those addressing national and global crises) underway with DRAF/DRF grantee input in target countries.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of pooled fund grants awarded to emergent OPDs not previously active in the public realm.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of total pooled fund grants made to OPDs of women with disabilities in target countries.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of target countries that have formal participation of persons with disabilities in government and/or civil society mechanisms for implementing and monitoring the SDGs.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

DRF is contributing to the impact of persons with disabilities participating fully in society and enjoying equal rights and opportunities. The desired outcome is that the rights of persons with disabilities are improved in target countries in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The outputs we measure through our logframe include:
Output 1 : Legislation, policy, and government programs (including those addressing national and global crises, such as COVID-19) undergoing harmonization with the CRPD in target countries through the participation of representative OPDs
Output 2: Representative OPDs from target countries participating in international and national human rights and SDG monitoring processes (including disability rights monitoring during national and global crisis responses, such as COVID-19)
Output 3: Disability movement in target countries is inclusive, reflecting the diverse voices of persons with disabilities
Output 4: Representative OPDs equipped to advocate on the rights of persons with disabilities (during national and global crises, such as COVID-19)

DRF works closely with donors, international development actors, governments, human rights activists, grantees, and other partners to achieve systemic change. Our theory of change, governance, grantmaking processes, and organizational structures are actively informed by persons with disabilities. Our strategies – grantmaking, advocacy, and technical assistance – describe the primary ways we build movements, drive agendas, and achieve rights.

As DRF enters its thirteenth year, we can confidently say that our model is moving the needle on resourcing disability rights efforts and promoting disability inclusion in grantmaking. Our recent external evaluations and regular feedback from grantees confirm that we have sufficient proof of concept for our Pathway to Change.

In many ways, the impact of our work is clear by looking at the numbers. For example, over the past 12 years, 50 alternative reports have been submitted to international and national development and human rights monitoring mechanisms by grantees; 442 national and local laws, policies, or government programs that promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities have been secured or are underway across more than 30 countries where we have provided funding to OPDs; and 29 countries where we have provided funding have ratified the CRPD . Additionally, more than 641 persons with disabilities have been trained through DRF/DRAF funded technical assistance (we have only tracked this for a few years) .

Behind the numbers, there is more to the story of our impact. When we started our work, there were very few organizations of women with disabilities, and even fewer who were visible on national and global stages. Through our funding and advocacy, we’ve seen increases in the number of organizations of women with disabilities, and increasing representation in national movements and global fora like the United Nations and the Commission on the Status of Women. Relatedly, we have been able to diversify intersectional movements—specifically the women’s rights and Indigenous Peoples movements—by promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities. While we were initially a driving force behind this diversification, there are now more invitations for persons with disabilities to speak in movement-specific venues and more funders and other international actors looking at these intersections. We’re also thrilled to see how our work is influencing other donors, both towards more participatory approaches and towards approaches that are more inclusive of persons with disabilities. Our active leadership in an emerging global participatory grantmaking community of practice and ongoing advocacy in donor networks are starting to have visible results; the Disability Inclusion Fund based at Borealis Philanthropy, for example, is modeled on our approach.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Persons with disabilities. Specifically, we aim to serve the most marginalized identities within the disability rights movements, like women with disabilities, Indigenous and LGBTI persons with disabilities, persons with psychosocial disabilities, persons with intellectual disabilities, persons with DeafBlindness, and persons with Albinism.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, we quickly pivoted to ensure that basic needs of our grantees were met. We updated our funding guidelines to include COVID-19 advocacy and started an OPD strengthening fund to build capacity during this time when other work might be put on hold. We also increased communication in WhatsApp and Facebook groups with grantees, building community and support during a time when isolation is a challenge.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Disability Rights Fund Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Disability Rights Fund Inc.

Board of directors
as of 7/29/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Andrew Ferren


Board co-chair

Ms. Lorraine Wapling

Aditi Juneja

Andrew Ferren

Charlie Clements

Setareki Macanawai

Beth MacNairn

Kristen Pratt

Diana Samarasan

Disability Rights Fund

Lorraine Wapling

Mariel Gonzales

Maria Ni Flatharta

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 07/29/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 01/21/2021

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.