Fenomenal Funds is a feminist funder collaborative using a shared governance model and participatory grantmaking to support the resilience of women’s funds who are members of the Prospera International Network of Women’s Funds.

When you bring together a diverse group of people, representing organizations from different geographies, who speak different languages, and work across all time zones, you have to be intentional about making the space welcoming to every participant. Making this possible takes time, people, the right systems and tools, and a commitment to doing it consistently. Fenomenal Funds did not have this all figured out when we started. But we quickly understood that it lay at the heart of full participation and inclusion. It was essential to meaningful collaboration. So we worked at it. Over time, we got better at supporting participation by identifying people, tools and processes to overcome barriers to participation. It may not seem like it, but addressing each barrier is about leveling the playing field for everyone. Not just some. Everyone. 

Language Justice

Fenomenal Funds recognizes and celebrates the diversity of women’s funds. That means valuing and honoring language justice. If every participant is to feel welcome, to understand and easily contribute to the discussion, and to connect to sister funds, they must have the opportunity of communicating in the language they feel most comfortable to express themselves. Fenomenal Funds was slow to get this right. It took time to find simultaneous interpreters who would be available at the times of scheduled collaboration meetings. Some of the individuals we worked with did not have the technical language or the feminist language. With the support of the community, we expanded our pool of translators and interpreters. We figured out the technology. And then we got the scheduling to work by confirming sessions early. We shared all documents and provided simultaneous interpretation in four languages: English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. We realized that we needed to go further and added simultaneous interpretation in Cantonese, Korean, and Portuguese. Collaboration groups embraced language justice.  Even when they were sharing a message in the chat—they took it upon themselves to use Google Translate so that their colleagues would be fully included.

Time Justice

ACKNOWLEDGING - Fenomenal Funds

The women’s funds members of the Prospera International Network of Women’s funds are located across five geographic regions: Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and Latin America and North America. The location of funds across the globe means that when we set up meetings for the collaboration groups, it could be morning, afternoon, evening, or in the middle of the night for some women’s funds. We did our best to schedule sessions at the time that offered the best opportunity for people across different time zones to participate at a reasonable hour.

This was not always possible for women’s funds in the Asia and Pacific region. They often had to bear the biggest burden by joining during their late evening. We tried different approaches to meet time justice. We hired facilitation team members from across the different regions. We offered sessions twice, each time slot accommodating different time zones. There was no one perfect solution. But a mix of strategies got us close.

Accessibility

One of our concerns as a team was to address barriers to participation for staff with either visual or hearing impairments. We identified support from an organization that has in-house expertise around digital accessibility. For us, accessibility meant that we also accommodated those with hearing, visual, or other impairment. This meant making all activities inclusive, ensuring the fewest possible barriers to participation.

While no one needed the support, we were committed to providing screen readers for participants who are visually impaired or provided sign language services or closed captioning on the platform or hearing impaired participants. As spaces formed, we asked all facilitators to invite collaboration group participants to reach out to the facilitation team for special accommodation for digital accessibility. Although no one required it, we prepared to provide the support.  

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