Hivos: Implementing Creative Solutions to Persistent Global Problems

Participants at the International AIDS Conference that took place in Durban, South Africa, July 2016. Thanks to their organizations and the massive participation of civil society organizations, policymakers, scientists, and governments, the conference was a great success. (Image: Tomas Chang Pico/ Hivos)

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For Hivos, humanist values come first. When the Netherlands-based organization came to life in 1968, its founders were inspired by the concepts of individual freedom, self-determination, and personal responsibility. These values are very much a part of Hivos' work 50 years later. It partners with activists, civil society organizations, and artists in 33 countries across the globe to implement creative solutions to persistent global problems.

One of Hivos' main focus areas is LGBTI rights and sexual health and reproductive rights. In the 1990s, Hivos was the first organization in the Netherlands to support the few openly LGBTI activists in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and build a strong LGBTI movement. This work — funding, capacity strengthening, and facilitating networking and cross-regional learning — increased the strength, diversity, and visibility of LGBTI communities and their organizations.[1] These stronger LGBTI organizations have successfully advocated for recognition of LGBTI rights. Now, more countries recognize and respect LGBTI rights in laws and policies.[2]

NGOsource's Role

Hivos first completed the equivalency determination (ED) process with NGOsource in 2013. After this, six additional funders requested EDs from NGOsource for Hivos. Most of them did so multiple times as they continued to fund the organization over multiple years. Anja Panjwani of Hivos summed it up.

Hivos' work in this area of LGBTI rights and sexual health and reproductive rights is of key importance, which is recognised and also made possible by a number of donors who provide funding for our work. Having the equivalency determination has made it possible for Hivos to attract funding from U.S. foundations. This is important for donor diversification of our work, so Hivos does not depend on just one type of donor, which greatly benefits the sustainability of the organisation and its work.

In addition to giving Hivos easier access to U.S.-based funding, Anja feels that NGOsource is managing the ED process "efficiently and is helping organizations like Hivos to avoid having to go through this process with each individual foundation." This reduced burden allows Hivos and other NGOs to allocate more time and resources to fulfilling their missions.

Additionally, NGOsource grantmaker members, like the funders in Hivos' case, can benefit from the due diligence already carried out by others. When they wish to fund an NGO that has already been certified by another grantmaker member, grantmakers can request subsequent EDs immediately for only $250.

ED in Action: Better Services for Communities in Need

Hivos has put its funding to good use. Through its KP REACH program, Hivos collaborates with AMSHeR. This coalition of 18 LGBT-led organizations across sub-Saharan Africa addresses the disproportionate effect of the HIV epidemic on LGBT individuals and MSM (men who have sex with men).

Despite progress made in the Southern African region in response to the HIV epidemic, most key population groups remain neglecte or hidden and are disproportionately affected by HIV. The key populations targeted in Hivos' program — MSM, sex workers, and transgenders — are less likely to receive information and services. High-quality, stigma-free HIV and sexual reproductive health services are very limited for these groups, despite their increased need for access.

The KP REACH program supports "on the ground" staff who work to ensure improved access to medical services for key population groups. Program staff have noticed that, as a result of this work, sexual diversity is becoming more accepted by medical professionals. And members of the LGBTI community therefore have more access to medication.

While acknowledging there is much work yet to be done, Hivos is making and will continue to make a significant dent in improving the lives and rights of LGBTI individuals across the world.

NGOsource thanks Anja Panjwani and Roman Baatenburg for their contributions to this blog post.


[1] Hivos uses the term LGBTI communities to mean lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex persons that identify with one or more gender identities and expressions (SOGIE). Hivos chooses the term communities because they share their SOGIE diversity.

[2] International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA): Carroll A., State Sponsored Homophobia 2016: A World Survey of sexual orientation laws: criminalisation, protection and recognition (Geneva, May, 2016). http://ilga.org/downloads/02_ILGA_State_Sponsored_Homophobia_2016_ENG_WEB_150516.pdf