Influencer’s CEO Ben Jeffries sits down with The Fund for Global Human Rights CEO Regan Ralph to discuss what sets the Fund apart from other charities worldwide, why influencer marketing should be integrated further into the charity sector and how activists and content creators have a common goal of creating positive social change.
The Fund for Global Human Rights equips grassroots human rights activists with the financial and strategic support they need to enact real, lasting change in their communities. To date, we have raised and delivered over $100 million in support of more than 800 activists and organizations across the globe. Our work is based on the belief that the people affected by injustice and inequality are best placed to stand up for their own communities and implement their own solutions. But to do so, they need money, tools, and a network of allies —and that’s what we provide.
A few things set the Fund apart. First is our central tenet that affected communities should be able to set their own course; too often, funders or large international charities attach strings that limit the efficacy of local projects or, worse, try to insert their own agenda. We offer flexible funding and build relationships based on trust and transparency, which allows the activists we support to implement their own visions.
Secondly, the Fund is willing to take risks. We work where others do not or cannot work, and we are willing to back promising activists or organizations who are just getting their work off the ground.
Thirdly, the Fund works to build movements; we don’t just fund one group tackling an issue alone, we support a diverse range of groups tackling that issue from different angles. For example, in Latin America we work with a number of activists who protect indigenous lands and natural resources by offering legal support to local communities. We also fund groups doing community education or advocacy at the national and international levels. Ultimately, we believe that movement building is key to long-term change.
One example of the Fund’s work that particularly inspires me is the story of a group of Q’eqchi’ indigenous women from Sepur Zarco, a community in the Guatemalan highlands. These women made history in 2016 when they and their legal team - supported by the Fund - successfully prosecuted former Guatemalan military officials for sexual and domestic slavery.
The testimonies of survivors led to the convictions of two men for crimes against humanity and a directive that the Guatemalan state pay reparations for all the harm suffered. The courage of these women in taking on the institutions that assaulted them and their communities is remarkable and deeply inspiring. Their bravery and the work of the legal and women’s rights groups that supported them show the difference local activists make, even in the most adverse situations.
In our own ways, we’re both trying to impact others’ opinions and behaviors. At its core, activism is really about creating positive social change. Influencing people and their behaviors is an important part of the activist’s toolkit; it’s a crucial way to introduce new ideas, change policy, and—here’s where content creators come in—reach and engage different audiences. Working with creators is a way to reach people and educate them about the difficult and complex problems we grapple with, issues like discrimination, poverty, and violence. Ultimately, we hope to inspire people to get involved, to speak out against injustice, or to show up for a cause.
Charities understand the issues and know what needs to happen to create meaningful change; creators have platforms to help reach more people with calls to action.
Creators have the same responsibility that we all share—to be good, to do good, and to try to leave the world better than we found it. Some creators have huge platforms, and as a result they have the power and ability to drive conversations on key topics. I do think all people have a social responsibility to use what privilege, power, or platform they have to push for social good.
This is a new space for us, but we want to work with creators who embody our values: respect, integrity, and inclusivity. It’s critical that they are authentic and aren’t just working with a charity to improve their own image. Just like the activists we support, we’re looking to work with creators who are dedicated and genuinely care about the issues, who use their lived experiences to inform their outlook, and who bring fresh energy to solving age-old challenges.
In today’s digitally connected world, I think creators can play an important role in mobilizing new activists and building stronger movements. Influencer marketing is essentially a new tool to reach, educate, and ultimately inspire more people to act. Because at the end of the day - no matter what we say - the success of our human rights movement really depends on our actions.