A member of a Self Help Group collects the monthly savings. Photo: Jan Stürmann

A member of a Self Help Group collects the monthly savings. Photo: Jan Stürmann


We work in ways that honor the rights of women, indigenous communities and other minorities.

IDEX values initiatives that come from people who want to create change for themselves. We provide the financial support. Local leaders and community members do the rest. The work of our grantees typically integrate two or more solutions central to advancing IDEX’s mission including women’s empowerment, building local economies, and caring for the environment. IDEX limits its partnerships – its funding – to poverty alleviation organizations in 6 target countries: Guatemala, India, Mexico, Nepal, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

How We Grant

IDEX does not fund individuals. IDEX does not accept unsolicited proposals for partnership or grants. We invite new partners a few at a time in 1-2 countries at a time, every 1-2 years. When we are looking to fund new groups, we go through a series of steps:

  1. We research a dozen prospective organizations “on paper,” reviewing their websites, financials, etc. We also collect recommendations from current partners in the region and other international development organizations.
  2. Next we conduct site visits with 5 to 8 organizations or more and meet with the staff, board members, and the communities involved.
  3. Then we select 2 to 4 organizations to receive small catalyst grants (read more below) for projects of 6-12 months in duration as a way of exploring our relationship with them.
  4. Finally, after the small grant period is up, we invite 1 or 2 impressive grantees to become a “partner.” This entails a 3-year funding commitment on IDEX’s part with grants of $15,000 or more.

Catalyst Grants

The catalyst grants program is the way IDEX finds and selects new organizations to receive small grants. Because partnership entails a significant commitment over 3 to 6 years, we choose partners carefully, with confidence that the partner organization operates in an accountable, democratic, and transparent way in working towards lasting social change for marginalized communities. Catalyst grantees will receive approximately $5,000 for a project lasting 6 to 12 months. The small grant affords IDEX a low-risk opportunity to work with an organization works before selecting them for a longer-term relationship.

Selection Criteria

IDEX partners are selected based on their adherence to the following eight criteria:

1. Participatory Approach

The organization seeks to improve the quality of life of groups, communities or neighborhoods through the participation of citizens. It collaborates with broader social movements towards achieving its goals. The organization seeks to holistically integrate social, cultural, economic, environmental and/or political dimensions in its work. The organization seeks to incorporate gender equity in all aspects of its work.

2. Local Leadership

The organization fosters leadership in the communities where it works. A plan should be in place for programs to gradually be administered by community members where feasible. There must be demonstrable participation of women in leadership and decision making roles.

3. Relevant Program Areas

The programs are driven by the needs of the community, protect and advance their rights and strategically work to address and transform both actual conditions and root causes of poverty through more than one of the following program areas:

1. Food Sovereignty

Problem: Our global food system, dominated by corporate-driven agriculture practices that push out small-scale farmers, is broken and has dire economic and environmental consequences.

Solutions: People are encouraging sustainable and organic food production methods, organizing to sell their products collectively for fair prices, and lowering costs while improving the quality and quantity of their yields. Read more.

2. Alternative Economies

Problem: Around the world, unjust and unsustainable economic systems have created massive inequality, leaving about 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty. That means they earn less than $1.25 a day. Poverty is not just a lack of income. Those living in extreme poverty also are shut out from accessing education, land, health care and other resources they need to move out of poverty.

Solutions: People are reimagining wealth and putting people and planet before profit through alternative economic models, building skills to get the maximum use out of existing land and other resources, and gaining access to loans and affordable credit. Read more.

3. Climate Justice

Problem: Unchecked resource consumption has led to an environmental and climate crisis that threatens our planet and our collective futures. The world’s poor contribute the least to this problem but are the most impacted by erratic weather patterns and increasing natural disasters, often facing the loss of land, water and livelihoods they need to sustain themselves and their families.

Solutions: People are reducing their communities’ vulnerability to disaster, teaching sustainable grazing and farming practices, challenging polluting industries and advocating against man-made climate threats—and leading true climate action. Read more.

4. Sound Practices

The organization is ethical, transparent, well managed and financially sound in its internal practices as evaluated through a participatory process between IDEX and the partnering organization. Organization would not depend solely on IDEX for its sustainability and continues to seek other relevant sources of support.

5. Effective Learning & Monitoring

The organization effectively plans, implements, evaluates and documents its community-driven programs and maintains accountability to the communities it supports. The organization and IDEX are committed to mutual learning and building solidarity.

6. Impact

The organization demonstrates impact on communities, its members, and people in need, as well as its impact on long-term social change. The organization is able to leverage IDEX’s financial support to strengthen its work and/or grow its impact.

7. Commitment to Partnership

IDEX and the organization will engage in frequent and responsive communication and dialogue, including consultation on issues in the region; giving each other honest feedback about the fulfillment of roles; participating in fundraising and outreach activities, including travel to the United States and to the partner’s country and region and to conferences upon request; supporting in identifying new partners and building their capacity when relevant and sharing learning with each other and with IDEX partners in all regions, when feasible.

8. Non-sectarian

The organization is non-sectarian, does not proselytize and is open to the participation of all people regardless of culture, tribe, caste, class, religion, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, or physical disability.

Grants in Previous Years