Change Accelerator: Ouafa Belgacem

Ouafa Belgacem - CEO of Culture Funding Watch - TunisiaOur Change Accelerator for April is Ouafa Belgacem, CEO of Culture Funding Watch, Tunisia, who advocate for sustainable, transparent and smart culture and creative sector financing.

Please briefly describe what your organisation does 

Culture Funding Watch is a social enterprise specializing in intelligence, capacity building and advocacy for sustainable, transparent and smart culture and creative sector financing.

We support cultural and creative industry workers by giving them access to the information, resources, advice and assistance they need to achieve their goals. We do this by facilitating access to information on resources, training and building capacities in resources mobilization, raising resources and influencing donors and future donors.

Our reach expands across Europe, MENA Region and Africa, offering 20 workshops per year and supporting over 9,000 users through our Facebook page.  

How did you get into social impact sector? 

This is funny story… I am actually an archeologist by trade, and I was destined to be a researcher or a teacher with little exposure to project design or implementation. My passion for old stones and dead bodies meant my mum used to tease me, saying ‘you are grave digger’. My shift to the social impact sector started when I got my first job and international experience at the supreme council of antiquities in Egypt where I was working on a Finnish/Egyptian collaboration project. There I discovered the whole world of development, collaboration and fundraising. When I joined the project it was nearing the end of it’s funding and I was worried about its sustainability and continuity. I remember asking my Egyptian manager “what is going to happing once the Finnish funding is over?”, to which he replied “you are a ‘digger’ and I have still 6 months budget for a junior researcher… go and dig and find out what we should do next”. I was convinced that the survival of the art and culture sector was dependent on the “cultural workers”  themselves mastering their own financial sustainability. 

And there came my lightbulb moment. I discovered that Fundraising is a profession in it’s own right, and there is a whole world out there that comes with it. In 2005 I decided to become a fundraiser, and to learn as much as I could, so I could come back and apply it to the arts and culture sector. It was around the same time that I found the Resource Alliance. It was a turning point in my career, and my whole life. Being among the 12 bursary winners from over 450 applicants for the IWRM Workshop in Malaysia was the little push that I needed to be able to shift from an archeologist to a professional fundraiser. I met people that inspired and encouraged me, and it allowed me to move forward and dare to apply for a position at the European commission delegation in Egypt (where I knew I would have exposure to the most complex intuitional donor in my region). Following that I worked at Oxfam as regional funding programme coordinator and now I am the founder of Culture Funding Watch. I am very proud of what I have accomplished so far. CFW is the only MENA and Africa focused social enterprise helping the arts and culture sector reach the resources they need. 

What is your driving force for accelerating change? 

I have always been driven to solidarity and caring about others, but most importantly I have a deep belief in the major role that art and culture plays in human lives and collective wellbeing. And besides, I am Tunisian and French – an explosive combination of cultures of resistance, revolution and strong women. It is in my genes. This is the reason I have been driven to working with organisations like Oxfam, SNV etc. I have a very low tolerance threshold to injustice.  

What one piece of advance would you give to future change accelerators who want to make a big impact in their work?

Give it time. If you have a look at my career you will see what kind of change maker I am. I took time (15 years) to master my knowledge before creating CFW because I have always advocated that meaningful change can only happen when we act on the roots of the problem. I like to inscribe my actions in the time so that they have deep and lasting impact. It takes time to change policies and behavior and I am not afraid of time. 

The first time art financing and funding was mentioned in the MENA regional art and culture conference arenas was in 2010 when I brought it into discussion, when most of the sectors’ attention was about cultural policies. CFW is 6-7 years ahead of the game when it comes to bringing this dimension of cultural and creative sector development. I am very proud now that my small organisation is operating with zero external funding, zero influential supporters is now a reference in the region. I take pride in quality, durability and solidarity. 

Do you know an inspirational Change Accelerator? Nominate them for our next newsletter and to be entered into our global awards by emailing us here.

Everything You Need to Know

What is the Emerge programme?

Emerge is a capacity building programme that aims to help organisations to devise and implement a fundraising strategy that enables them to diversify their income sources and improve the prospect of long term financial sustainability. The delivery process is designed to help the organisations improve their resource mobilisation skills and strategic thinking and also enable them to critically assess other areas of organisational functioning, including governance, leadership and management. The change that Resource Alliance wants to see is that organisations take ownership of and sustain new resource mobilisation activities that diversify their income base.

The programme is delivered by Resource Alliance associates (consultants), who are carefully selected and matched with the organisation in terms of skills, experience and their location.

Who is the Emerge programme aimed at?

The main beneficiaries of this programme are small to medium-sized organisations who need help and support to diversify and grow their funding portfolio for growth and/or sustainability.

What are the benefits of taking part in the Emerge programme?

  • Strengthened organisational capacity in fundraising and resource mobilisation, including, if needed, the development of appropriate organisational structures and processes.
  • Enhanced resource mobilisation skills, competence and confidence amongst key staff.
  • A functioning resource mobilisation strategy with plans and tools to support the process.
  • Coaching and mentoring to support the organisation in increasing and diversifying funding in the short, medium and long term.

What happens during the Emerge programme?

The intervention combines the expertise of a consultant with local market knowledge and a diverse range of skills and experience matched with each Oak grantee, and an opportunity to participate in peer learning activities. They are then supported by the Resource Alliance through the following process over 12 months:

The ultimate aim of the programme being implemented is for the participants to become more resilient, sustainable and capable of affecting change in their areas of work. It also aims to make organisations more robust, less dependent on a small number of donors and better able to leverage funding from a wide range of sources for the changes they wish to make. The project focuses on the critical areas of leadership and resource mobilisation, which are crucial to an organisation’s survival and its ability to grow and bring about sustainable programme outcomes.

It seeks to:

  • Foster confidence and skills amongst staff, which can be applied to other areas of fundraising and to ingrain a culture of strategic thinking with regard to resource mobilisation.
  • Develop a fundraising culture within the whole organisation so that resource mobilisation becomes a collective effort and an integral part of organisational functioning rather than a silo activity that is the responsibility of a few.
  • Help establish an exit strategy for the organisation so that the financial dependency on any single funder is reduced.

Who has taken part previously in the Emerge programme? 

Since 2014, the Emerge programme has supported 42 organisations across 15 different countries across Asia, South East Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

“We benefited immensely from the Emerge programme. This has enabled us to set concrete targets and objectives, and we are engaged to follow up the strategy with concrete implementation. This will allow us to implement our three-year strategic framework”.


“We found the Associate you provided us on the Emerge programme to be highly engaging and knowledgeable, and she was quickly able to get under the skin of our organisation to appreciate what we needed and how we could develop our fundraising strategy”.


What do NGOs need to do to apply for the Emerge programme?

Organisations interested in the programme should contact

What can funders do if they’re interested in funding the Emerge programme?

The Emerge programme has clear benefits for NGOs requiring help with building their fundraising capacities. However, funders whose aims and mission concern the building of the fundraising capacity of their grantees may also benefit through investing in the financial sustainability of their grantees.

Funders and investors interested in finding out more about the Emerge programme should contact

An interview with Sophia Seawell from Mama Cash

Mama Cash was conceived around a kitchen table in Amsterdam in 1983. Since then, it has grown from a group of five feminist activists into an international fund that supports women’s, girls’, trans and intersex people’s movements around the world.

We caught up with Sophia Seawell to find out what makes Mama Cash stand out from other grantmaking organisations and how their value of sharing power really puts the women it serves at the centre of their work.

What makes Mama Cash different from other grantmaking organisations?

In contrast to much available funding which is project-based, Mama Cash gives grants to feminist groups, who decide themselves how to best use this money. With this long-term and flexible funding, we can offer the stability that activists need to realise their visions for a more just and joyful world.

How do you involve women within the granting process?

In line with our value of sharing power, Mama Cash has been moving to a participatory grantmaking model. This means shifting decision-making power about how grants are distributed to the communities we intend to serve – who are, after all, experts of their own realities. We piloted this with our Spark grants for local activists here in the Netherlands, recently launched our Solidarity Fund for fellow women’s funds and aim to extend this approach to all of our grantmaking by 2021.

From your grant applications, what are the key ‘trends’ or pressing issues facing women in the current climate?  

Data from our grant applications, recently analysed in our report Resourcing Feminist Activism, shows that feminist activism is thriving everywhere but remains underfunded – each year we receive far more eligible applications than we are able to grant. In particular, we see an increase in applications from trans and intersex activists, as well as sex workers’  rights groups; we also see an increase in applications from groups working on the intersection of gender and climate change.

How do you think that the social impact sector can accelerate change (our theme for IFC 2020) to support women and girls across the globe?

The social impact sector can best support positive change by redirecting resources and decision-making power back to movements themselves. Women, girls, trans and intersex people have a vision for a world in which everyone is equal, safe, and free and to make this vision a reality they need access to resources.

How is Mama Cash adapting to deal with Coronavirus? How has the pandemic affected your work as a team and as a grantmaker? 

Mama Cash remains committed to providing flexible funding to our grantee-partners around the world – crises like Covid-19 show why flexibility on the part of funders is so important. Activists need to be able to adapt and respond to situations on the ground. We are in dialogue with all of our partners about how we can best support them; we have also extended our deadline to apply for a grant in our current grantmaking cycle, and we are being flexible with reporting deadlines for current partners.

2020 Resource Alliance Global Fundraising Awards – Nominations now open!

With the entire world starting to work differently, responding to changing demands and a range of different challenges, people are rising up, showing courage, commitment, innovation and becoming the agents of change that the world needs. 

This year we want to dedicate the 2020 Resource Alliance Global Fundraising Awards to the innovative fundraisers and changemakers who are navigating the sector through this crisis. 

This is an opportunity not only to be recognised for your dedication and passion, but also to let the world know how you use that dedication and passion to help create lasting, positive change in the world.

Your success is all of our success, since as a sector we can learn from one another, encourage one another and celebrate one another.

So please take some time to nominate someone who you feel meets the criteria in the four categories below. They could be your colleagues, your staff, your boss… or yourself.


  • Winners will be recognised formally by the Resource Alliance for their outstanding contribution

  • This is a unique opportunity to showcase their individual / organisation’s work on a global platform

  • Winners will receive a grant to support the work they are doing, as well as a variety of other benefits


2020 Global Fundraising Innovator of the Year

This award is not just about money. The Global Fundraising Innovator of the Year has transformed the way their organisation works in response to the crisis. They have seen the challenges and faced them down with determination to rethink, regroup, reorganise in order to move away from transactional fundraising and into a healthy, holistic and sustainable income stream. They have set their organisation on a new financial course that will withstand the day-to-day ups and downs of economies, donor trust and interest, and the myriad other factors that can disrupt even the best fundraising plans.

The Activator Award

This award goes to an individual, campaign or collaboration that motivates the masses and activates the unstoppable force that is the power of people standing united for large-scale impact. The Activator coalesces individual donations and voices into a social movement intent on rocking the world.

The Rule-Breaker Award

Is this how fundraising is supposed to look? The Rule-Breaker Award goes to an individual or campaign which breaks the rules and paradigms of traditional fundraising. They pull the ‘F’ out of “IFC” and turn it on its head with an entirely unexpected way to resource work, creating a fresh and more sustainable model of resource development.

The Change Accelerator Award

Forward thinking. Progressive. Bold. The Change Accelerator Award goes to an individual who is advanced in their thinking, daring in their approach – and tired of the status quo. Their ideas are bigger, their goals loftier and their timeline faster. Their giant strides overshadow the baby steps of hesitation and timidity. They inspire us to the fearless pursuit of accelerating change in a time when we must displace fearfulness with fearlessness and strive for big impact. The Change Accelerator dares to live life in the fast lane of change.


The awards are free to enter, and nominations are open to all collaborations, organisations and individuals in the social impact sector.

Applications are open from 16 April to 31 July 2020, and the winners will be announced in August.


For any enquiries, please contact Ruby at