The guest of episode 9 of our podcast is Godfrey Odongo, a human rights graduate from GC Africa, currently working as Senior Program Officer with the Human Rights Program at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund in New York.
Godfrey got motivated to work in human rights because of his desire to use the law as one of the tools to help others. What keeps me hopeful is giving hope and building the resilience of human rights activists. What makes me especially hopeful at the moment is seeing in action a multi-disciplinary approach: people from all walks of life working together. It is important that we do not hang on the terminology of human rights.
In his opinion, the role of foundations is not only to distribute grants to human rights organisations but as well to act as a trusted mediator, a connector and a convenor. Foundations can play this role because they have a bird-eye view, which enables them to bring very different organisations at the table and propose different strategies. He acknowledges the current flaws of foundations and other bilateral funding agencies but stresses that many initiatives have been taken to resolve those issues (transparency, dominance of English, written reports, top-down approach, de-colonising philanthropy…).
His advice to human rights and his younger self:
Think behind the law! Learn from other people and find ways to build bridges.
Lean into the power of persuasion!
Ask yourself those questions when applying for a job in philanthropy:
- How transferable are my skills?
- What do I bring to the table in a process of co-creation?
- Why do you want to work for philanthropy?
The book he just finished reading: Say nothing! A true story of murder and memory in Nothern Ireland from Patrick Radden Keefe
Websites of philanthropy organisations Godfrey mentioned:
The human rights funders network tracks human rights funders: 760 foundations according to the latest data from 2019: Advancing Human Rights | The State of Global Foundation Grantmaking (humanrightsfunding.org)
As long as you can show at the recruitment stage that your knowledge and skills are transferrable, you do not need to be an expert on one specific topic
Senior Program Officer with the Human Rights Program at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, a private grant making foundation based in New York and Washington D.C. In this
role he manages funding portfolios and partnerships that support increased capacities of ecosystems of civil society organizations advancing human rights norms and social change. He is the author of several peer-reviewed book chapters, journal articles and research on a range of issues particularly socio-economic and children’s human rights from an African perspective.
Alumnus of GC Africa