Philanthropic organisations launch collaborative to improve global safeguarding practices

Karen Walker-Simpson
Karen Walker-Simpson, Director, Funder Safeguarding Collaborative

Three years ago, in the wake of international headlines on the failures of charitable organisations to prevent sexual abuse and exploitation, the UK government’s International Development Committee (IDC) announced an inquiry into abuse and exploitation within the aid sector. The IDC warned that a chronic lack of attention to and resources for safeguarding was one of the main obstacles to ensuring development activities do not cause any harm. 

Many philanthropic and development organisations have since implemented new safeguarding measures, but significant challenges remain. The recent “sex for jobs” scandal involving international aid workers responding to the Ebola crisis in Democratic Republic of the Congo serves as a reminder that there is more work to be done. In January, the IDC published a progress report in which it urged the aid sector to continue strengthening safeguarding practices. 

With a shared commitment to creating a safer world, five grantmaking institutions have come together to create the Funder Safeguarding Collaborative (FSC). Founded by Comic Relief, Global Fund for Children, The National Lottery Community Fund, Oak Foundation, and Porticus, the FSC aims to promote collaboration, listening, and learning among funders and local civil society organisations to support and strengthen safeguarding practices globally. 

“Together, we can help ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children, youth, and communities we work with around the world,” said Global Fund for Children President and CEO John Hecklinger. “By recognizing and amplifying local knowledge and practices, and creating a platform for sharing what works, the FSC will foster the development of organisational cultures and systems that protect young people and others vulnerable to abuse from harm.”

The FSC connects funders to a wealth of knowledge and expertise – including webinars, discussion forums, a resource library, and working groups – free of charge. The collaborative also offers tailored, fee-based support, including a training program, an advice line, and consulting on everything from policy development to incorporating safeguarding into grantmaking. 

“We know that an abundance of knowledge and expertise already exists within civil society organisations and the communities they serve,” said FSC Director Karen Walker-Simpson. “The FSC will act as a catalyst for change by creating shared spaces to listen and learn from others and opportunities for funders to invest in positive practices.” 

The FSC will also engage community-based civil society organisations, researchers, government agencies, and others with expertise in this area, including individuals with lived experience. These stakeholders will have the opportunity to contribute to the design of FSC strategies and services, and to engage in dialogue with FSC members through webinars and discussion forums. This engagement is part of a broader effort to shift power in philanthropy and foster trust-based funder-grantee relationships. 

All grantmaking organisations can make a valuable contribution to keeping people safe and to preventing intentional or unintentional harm to the communities they serve, in the context of Covid and beyond. FSC membership is open to charitable trusts and foundations, intermediary funders that dedicate at least 50% of their budgets to grantmaking and grantee support, and funder networks that wish to promote safeguarding as part of their work. 

Please join us at our launch event on Tuesday 23 March, 2:00pm-3:00pm, where you can learn more about the work of the FSC, meet some of our founding members, and talk to funders who have already joined the Collaborative. Spaces are limited, so please reserve your place as soon as possible. REGISTER HERE

For more information, please visit or email FSC Director Karen Walker-Simpson at