Resources for Funders

Red Umbrella Fund serves as a resource on the best ways to support community-led organizations for change. Funders regularly reach out to Red Umbrella Fund with requests for accompaniment as they explore how to shift power and develop a more nuanced understanding of sex workers’ rights. We have gathered an extensive catalogue of resources for funders, including publications from allied organisations and sex worker-led organisations as well as consortiums that support sex workers’ rights.

Resources from Funders and Allied Organisations Supporting Sex Workers’ Rights

Since Red Umbrella Fund’s creation in 2012, more funders and allied organisations are are contributing to the discourse on the human rights approach to sex work and the harm of conflating sex work with trafficking as well as the importance of involving communities in decision making. Key reports and other resources from funders and allied organisations supporting sex workers’ rights are available in our Publications and Tools.

Participatory Grantmaking

Red Umbrella Fund’s ISC’s goal to shift the power in philanthropy includes sharing our model and values with other funders. Involving communities in decision making is a community practice. There is an increasing wealth of resources for funders like Red Umbrella documenting and learning from our processes, experiences, and progress, and to sharing our lessons with others.

Mama Cash

Mama Cash is the host organisation for Red Umbrella Fund. In recent years it has continued to transform its grantmaking to become a participatory grantmaker using different models for its various funds. Learn more about that process on their website.

In 2017, Mama Cash’s former Executive Director Nicky McIntyre wrote about her experience becoming the host of Red Umbrella fund in an article for Alliance Magazine: Shifting the (funding) power to sex workers – my years at Mama Cash. In the article she describes “the collaboration of sex workers and donors that established the Red Umbrella Fund—a truly pioneering participatory fund that puts sex workers in the driver’s seat on deciding where funding goes” the highlight of her 10 years at Mama Cash. She recalled: “Sex workers demanded that the collaboration no longer just be for donors but rather a genuine collaboration between donors and sex workers, one that would put the priorities of sex workers in the lead. They demanded that the focus of any funding should be on good funding (core, organizational support that is accessible to a range of groups, especially small organizations) and that it go to sex worker led groups, not NGOs working on sex worker rights. They demanded that sex workers have control over how the money would be spent and that whatever emerged would contribute to building a global movement of sex workers. They were not satisfied with only being participants in the process—they demanded to be in the driver’s seat. Wow! It was impressive, humbling, scary and exciting.”

Red Umbrella Fund and Mama Cash continue to learn from one another and in 2021 were both featured in Letting Go: How Philanthropists and Impact Investors Can Do More Good by Giving Up Control by Meg Massey and Ben Wrobel.


Foundation Center, including Grantcraft, and GuideStar merged to become Candid.  Candid Learning for Funders produced a guide on participatory grantmaking, generously in 2018 funded by Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundation as part of an issue lab on Participatory Grantmaking.  Download the guide Deciding Together: Shifting power and resources through participatory grantmaking and learn more about the report on Candid’s website. “Every year, millions of nonprofits spend trillions of dollars around the world. Candid finds out where that money comes from, where it goes, and why it matters. Through research, collaboration, and training, Candid connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to do it. Candid’s data tools on nonprofits, foundations, and grants are the most comprehensive in the world.”

Participatory Grantmakers

The Participatory Grantmakers Community is a global community of practice focused on sharing knowledge to improve participatory grantmaking and encourage its use within philanthropy. The Community developed a list of resources and best practices about how to shift power effectively, equitably and authentically  accessible on their website including introductory resources.

Find other resources to learn about participatory grantmaking in our Publications and Tools.


By actively sharing our knowledge and experiences and contributing to funder dialogues, Red Umbrella Fund encourages and supports funders to develop a nuanced understanding of what sex workers’ rights are and how they intersect with other social justice issues. One of the ways we do this is through funder consortiums including Count Me In! and Sex Worker Donor Collaborative.

Count Me In! (CMI!)

The Count Me In! (CMI!) consortium is a strategic partner of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. CMI! consists of member organisations Mama Cash (MC), the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), CREA, Just Associates (JASS), and the Sister Funds Urgent Action Fund (UAF) and Urgent Action Fund Africa (UAF-Africa). The sex worker-led Red Umbrella Fund (RUF) and the Dutch gender platform WO=MEN are strategic partners of the consortium.

The CMI! campaign Counting Sex Workers In! “puts a spotlight on sex worker-led advocacy and highlights the voices and perspectives of sex workers of all genders in order to advance understanding that sex workers’ rights are human rights and a feminist issue. “ Counting Sex Workers In! partners developed a series of fact sheets that highlight “commonplace challenges that sex workers face” and “how allies can take action to support sex workers’ rights.”  [Publications from CMI!]

The Counting Sex Workers In! campaign also featured a webinar entitled Strengthening sex workers’ labor rights through cross-movement collaboration. “As the UN Women-led campaign “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” continues to move forward on an adjusted timeline, it demands equal pay, an end to sexual harassment and all forms of violence against women and girls, health-care services that respond to women’s needs, and their equal participation in political life and decision-making in all areas of life. All of these demands must encompass sex workers and sex worker advocates must be part of the process. With the deep and ongoing impact of COVID-19, this session celebrates achievements, shares good practices and promising innovations and discusses key challenges focusing on participation, representation and voice of sex workers and on ensuring sex workers’ rights to bodily autonomy.”

Sex Work Donor Collaborative (SWDC)

The Sex Work Donor Collaborative (SWDC) is a network of funders that have come together to increase the amount and quality of funding to support sex workers’ rights. To read the SWDC FAQ, learn more about this network, and join: visit SWDC’s website which includes further resources.

In 2021, SWDC collaborated with Global Philanthropy Project (GPP), Red Umbrella Fund, and Funders for LGBTQ Issues to develop Diving Deeper: Factsheet on LGBTI Sex Worker Funding.

Learn more about other funder consortiums that support sex workers’ rights in database of Funders, Networks, and Allies.

Resources from Sex-Worker Led Organisations

Our theory of change is rooted in the recognition that sex workers are experts on our own lives and the needs of our communities and must be in charge of setting our own priorities and strategies for meaningful change. This change can only be achieved through strong, collaborative, diverse and sustainable movements of sex workers advocating collectively for recognition and protections of our rights, with the support of our allies. Sex worker-led organisations have developed resources for funders to support funders seeking to sustain the global movement in achieving human rights for all sex workers.

Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP)

Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) exists to uphold the voice of sex workers globally and connect regional networks advocating for the rights of female, male, and transgender sex workers. NSWP is a membership organisation – members are local, national, or regional sex worker-led organisations across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and Northa America and the Caribbean. Some key resources from NSWP for funders include: Briefing Paper: The Consequences of Misinformation about Sex Work and Sex Workers; Case Study: Sex Worker-led Organisations’ Engagement with the Women’s Movement; Briefing Note: Guide for Allies to Meaningful Partnership and Engagement with Sex Worker-Led Organisations; and Smart Guide: Recognising Sex Workers as Experts.  For additional resources for funders from NSWP visit our Publications & Tools.

European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (ESWA)

European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (ESWA – formerly ISCRSE) is “a sex worker-led network proudly representing more than 100 organisations in 30 countries across Europe and Central Asia.” Their mission is “to ensure that all sex worker voices are heard and that their human, health and labour rights are recognised and protected.”  They have an extensive resource library including the 2022 report “Myth-Busting the Swedish Model: The Evidence Debunking 10 Key Claims of Client Criminalisation” which find that “the benefits of the Swedish model by its proponents are not supported by the evidence. Sex workers are not decriminalised – a finding corroborated by an Amnesty International report on the situation in Ireland – and there have been rises in cases of human trafficking, with victims of this trade made even more vulnerable within a system of criminalisation.”  This finding is supported Swedish sex worker-led organisation Fuckförbundet (member of ESWA and NSWP) in their 2019 report Twenty Years of Failing Sex Workers.  For additional resources for funders from ESWA visit our Publications & Tools.

For more resources for funders frome sex worker-led organisations, visit our Publications and Tools.