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

Q: What is the Red Umbrella Fund?

A: The 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.

The Red Umbrella Fund makes grants to sex worker-led groups and network in any region of the world. The 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.

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

  • based in any country;
  • registered or unregistered;
  • led by women, men and/or trans* sex workers.

*Note: following the practices of trans* organisations such as the Global Action for Trans* Equality and Transgender Europe, the term trans* is used as an open-ended social umbrella term to denote persons whose gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth and those who wish to portray their gender in a way that differs from the gender they were assigned at birth.

Q: What criteria do I need to meet to apply for a grant from the 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 the Red Umbrella Fund support only women and girls groups?

A: No, the Red Umbrella Fund provides funding to organisations and networks that are led by women, men and/or trans* sex workers.

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

A: The 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: We have been guided by the NSWP definition of sex worker‐led. To be considered sex worker led as organisation or network, the following three criteria must be met (note that this definition was adjusted in 2018!):

  1. Decision‐making body: 60% or more of the decision‐making body must be sex workers (former and current ‐ with an aspiration to include current sex workers.
    If not, what is the mechanism that ensures sex workers are in control of the organisation’s activities and advocacy?

  1. Spokespeople: 60% or more of the spokespeople must be sex workers.
    If not, what is the mechanism for ensuring it is the voices of sex workers that are heard?

  1. Staff: 33% or more of the staff are sex workers and have the same contracts and working conditions as other staff in the organisation – not only as peer educators or paid in honorariums.

  2. Focus: The main focuse and – where relevant – membership of the organisation or network is on benefiting sex workers

Q: How will funding change in 2020 as a result of COVID-19?”

The 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 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 (question 4) and provide additional information in the comments (question 7).

When determining your budget for your request (question 6), 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 applications@redumbrellafund.org.

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. The 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 groups 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: The 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: The 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 8.000 and 80.000 EURO for two years based on organizational need, funding experience and available funds.

  • Regional networks are eligible to receive between 8.000 and 80.000 EURO – this includes only organisations working at the international level whose members are other organisations or groups based in various countries.

  • Groups and networks working mainly at national level and that are more than two years old are eligible to receive between 8.000 and 50.000 EURO.

  • Groups and networks working mainly at national level that are less than two years old and any groups working mostly at local level are eligible to receive between 8.000 and 40.000 EURO. Local groups includes organisations working mostly within one city or province.

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

Q: Where does the funding come from?

A: The 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?

A: Each year, the Red Umbrella Fund launches a public Call for Applications, inviting sex worker-led organisations to send in their requests for funding.

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: Download the application guidelines and application form in English, French, Spanish, Russian.

Q: My group does not have much experience writing applications. Can the 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 Applications Guidelines (usually 2 weeks before the Call for Applications deadline) to applications@redumbrellafund.org.

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 applications are available in English, French, Spanish, and Russian.

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

A: We require two references on your application from people familiar with your organization. One reference must be from a sex worker-led organization, and one can be from any other group or individual that knows your work. This may be, for example, from another funder or NGO.

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.

The Red Umbrella Fund may also reach out to other groups and individuals for a reference.

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 copy using “Print a copy” 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.

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 the Red Umbrella Fund as well?

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