Red Umbrella Fund FAQ


Do you have any questions? See if yours is already included below in our Frequently Asked Questions before you contact us.

Q: What is Red Umbrella Fund?

A: Red Umbrella Fund is the first global fund guided by and for sex workers. It was created in 2012. You can read more about the history here.

Red Umbrella Fund makes grants to sex worker-led groups and network in any region of the world. Red Umbrella Fund believes that change will only be achieved through strong, collaborative movements of sex workers advocating for their rights, with the support of allies. Sex workers themselves are the best positioned to know what is needed for them, and best placed to do something about it.

Red Umbrella Fund educates other funders about sex worker rights and the importance of investing in self-led organising by sex workers.

Q: Who Can Apply for a Grant?

A: Red Umbrella Fund provides funding to sex worker-led organisations and networks that are:

  • based in any country;
  • registered or unregistered;
  • led by people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Q: What criteria do I need to meet to apply for a grant from Red Umbrella Fund?

A: If you want to apply, your group, organisation or network must be led by sex workers for the benefit of sex workers. The detailed criteria are mentioned in the Application Guidelines.

Q: Does Red Umbrella Fund support only women and girls groups?

A: No, Red Umbrella Fund provides funding to organisations and networks that are led by people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Q: Does Red Umbrella Fund fund LGBTI groups?

A: Our grants are for sex worker-led groups and networks engaged in rights based work. This includes LGBTI sex workers.

Q: Does Red Umbrella Fund fund anti-trafficking initiatives?

A: Red Umbrella Fund funds sex worker-led organisations that support sex work as work. This can include sex worker-led organisations that are part of or lead rights-based anti-trafficking initiatives.

Q: What does ‘sex worker-led’ mean?

A: To be considered a sex worker-led organisation or network, the following four criteria must be met (note that this definition was adjusted in 2018!):

  1. Decision-making body: At least 60% of the decision-making body must be sex workers. This can include former and current sex workers, but with at least an aspiration to include current sex workers.

  2. Spokespeople: At least 60% of the people who speak on behalf of the organisation must be sex workers.

  1. Staff: At least 33% of the staff are sex workers, with the same contracts and working conditions as other staff in the organisation.

Q: How will funding change as a result of COVID-19?”

Red Umbrella Fund wishes to affirm its commitment to sex worker-led, participatory, core, flexible funding. The global coronavirus pandemic has impacted sex workers in every region, every country, and every local community. The Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) will meet through an online platform again this year, but the remainder of our grantmaking will remain the same.

Your applications will be reviewed by individuals from your communities. Please use the space provided in the application to describe your context (Section 3) and provide links or further details in “Additional Information” (Section 8).

When determining your budget for your request (Section 7), you may also want to describe how your plans have been or may be impacted both by the pandemic and by the governmental response to the pandemic.

If you have any other questions regarding this year’s application process you may contact us at

Q: I want to go to a conference. Can I request a scholarship or travel grant?

A: We do not make scholarship or travel grants. Red Umbrella Fund provides core funding to groups, which can be used to pay for conference participation, scholarships or travel costs if the group so decides.

Q: My organisation has never had funding before. Are we eligible?

A: Many organisations have not had funding before. You are welcome to apply if you meet our criteria.

Q: My organisation is not registered, can we apply for a grant?

A: Yes.

Q: My organisation does not have a bank account, can we apply for a grant?

A: Yes.

Q: There is no sex worker-led organisation in my country but my NGO wants to set one up. Can I ask funding for that?

A: Red Umbrella Fund does not fund organisations that have a project or programme with or for sex workers if the organisation as a whole has a broader focus.

Q: What type of funding do you provide?

A: Red Umbrella Fund provides flexible core funding to support the general coordination, functioning and strengthening of a group, organisation or network and its members.

Flexible Core funding can be used to cover expenses such as registration costs, rent, salaries, advocacy, (peer led) capacity building, membership meetings, networking activities, programs or projects.

Our funding is flexible in that it may be adapted to the changing priorities of the grantee during the grant.

Q: How much funding can I ask for?

  • A: Red Umbrella Fund grants are between 10.000 and 130.000 EURO for two years based on organisational need, funding experience and available funds. See the table below for more details.

Grant sizes (Euro) (for 2 years)


10.000 – 40.000
  • Organisations that are less than 2 years old.

16.000 – 80.000

  • Organisations working mainly at a local level (city, province, etc.). or national level or international level with individual members that are more than 2 years old.

30.000 – 130.000

  • Regional networks (organisations whose members are mostly organisations and work across multiple countries) that are more than 2 years old.

Please note that the final grant amount awarded can differ from the initial grant request.

Q: Where does the funding come from?

A: Red Umbrella Fund is grateful for the support from individual donors, as well as our institutional donors.

Q: When can I apply for a grant?

Each year in June, Red Umbrella Fund launches a public Call for Applications, inviting sex worker-led organisations to send in their requests for funding. Applications may be submitted through the online system until 24 July.

When a new call for applications opens, it is announced here on our website here, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Q: How do I apply for a grant?

A: Each year the Application Guidelines, the Online Application, downloadable version of the Application and updated FAQ will be made available here.

Review the application documents carefully!

All organisations will use the same application form and may apply in either English, French, Russian or Spanish.

You may work offline but only applications submitted through the online system will be eligible for grants.

In order to support organisations that want to work offline, there is also downloadable version of the Application Form available (also in English, Spanish, French, Russian).

If you have troubles with filling in the application form please take a look at our presentation or instruction video on this.

Q: My group does not have much experience writing applications. Can Red Umbrella Fund provide feedback to our proposal?

A: Yes. Using our offline forms, you can submit a draft requesting feedback before the deadline provided in the Application Guidelines to

Q: What if I miss the deadline of sending in the application form?

A: You will have to wait until our next call for applications. We are unable to accept individual requests for extensions of the deadline. We expect to have another call for applications next year – please try again then.

Q: We have several projects/programmes. Can we send in more than one proposal?

A: No, we can only accept one proposal per group or network. But our grants can be used to fund (or contribute to) more than one project or programme.

Q: Can I send in a application in another language than English?

A: Yes, the guidelines and application are available in English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Q: What type of references do I need? How will references be contacted?

A: Each application needs at least one endorsement from a sex worker organisation. Most applications also need a second endorsement, which can be from an ally or allied organisation. Note that groups that have been a grantee in the past 3 years do not require a second reference; only a sex worker reference.

If you have troubles with filling in the application form please take a look at our presentation or video on this. Please note that neither reference may be staff or board member of your organization!

Please inform your references that we may contact them and make sure their contact details are complete and correct on the application form. We may contact references through any way possible: e-mail, phone, Skype, Facebook messenger, etc.

Red Umbrella Fund requests references for all applications that appear to meet our eligibility requirements prior to being scored by our Programme Advisory Committee (PAC). Contacting references is not an indication of a grantmaking decision.

Please note that Red Umbrella Fund may seek references from other organisations (e.g. if the references provided are not known to us as a sex worker-led organisation or if your references are unresponsive).

Q: What happens after I submit my application?

A: When you submit the online application you will see a confirmation screen and you will receive an automatic confirmation by e-mail. If you do not receive a confirmation e-mail, we have not received your application. We encourage you to save a draft of your application. In the online system, you may save a PDF version or print your application using “Print this page” located at the bottom of the confirmation page before you hit “Submit”.

After the application window closes, an international sex worker-led committee (Programme Advisory Committee, or PAC) will review the applications and select the new grants.

You will be contacted by e-mail to inform you of the final selection by November.

More details here and in the Application Guidelines.

June – September:

Applications are screened by staff using criteria and references

August – October:

Applications are peer-reviewed by the sex worker-led Program Advisory Committee (PAC) using the criteria and priorities mentioned above


Final selection is made by the PAC using also the funding (restrictions) available and considering geographic and gender diversity


Grants selection is approved by the sex worker-led International Steering Committee (ISC)

26 October – 1 November:

All applicants are informed of the final selection.

15 December

All new grant contracts are made.

Q: Who makes the decision of which groups can get funding?

A: Red Umbrella Fund grantees are selected through a global peer review process of sex worker activists. More information can be found here.

Q: When will I receive an answer to my grant proposal?

A: We aim to inform all applicants of the final decision concerning their application before 1 November.

Q: I received a decline and would like more information about why my group was not selected for a grant, how do I do that?

A: Please send a request for more information to the e-mail mentioned in your decline message.

Q: My group already has a grant from Mama Cash. Can we still get a grant from Red Umbrella Fund as well?

A: Yes. Red Umbrella Fund makes its own grantmaking decisions.

Q: Our Red Umbrella Fund grant ends this year, can we already apply for a new grant?

A: Yes. Note that you may still have a gap between the two grants if you are selected, because the new funds will only be released after your final reports have been approved.

Q: Our Red Umbrella Fund grant ends next year, can we already apply for a new grant?

A: No. You can apply again in the year that your grant from Red Umbrella Fund ends but not before that.

Q: We have had a Red Umbrella Fund grant before, which has ended. Can we apply again for a new grant?

A: Yes.

Q: We have an emergency situation. Can we get money quickly?

A: Red Umbrella Fund does not provide emergency funding.
To access emergency funding we recommend you to try: