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Moving with movements 

Currents of change are circling the globe

Thousand Currents partners are focused on moving systems, structures, and institutions towards justice and equity.

Movements are generally focused on moving systems and institutions towards justice and equity. Being part of movement ecosystems means fundamentally changing society’s status quo.

Movements are characterized by systemic analysis and a shared agenda and can take principled, collective, direct action to create targeted strategic pressure.

Just as much as they may include joint efforts on policy advocacy, narrative shift, and most importantly community organizing and mobilizing popular support, movements are phenomena. Sometimes, however, they are standalone efforts working to push a new or excluded agenda forward.

Movements vary greatly around the world, as the context and the people determine the structure and strategies within each movement.

They are made up of ideas and actions for social transformation that are fluid, responsive, and dynamic.

Does Thousand Currents support social movements?

Thousand Currents’ partners are part of movement ecosystems, which include and gather more and more individual citizens, campaigners, formal and informal groups, policy analysts, civil society organizations, media makers, etc. – taking coordinated steps. As part of larger national, regional, and international community-led movements, our partners build momentum in response to specific needs or social conditions and are accountable to the communities that comprise them.

Our partners work across seven subcontinents on food sovereignty, alternative economies, and climate justice. We build intentionally diversified grantmaking portfolios that represent movement actors of many types, sizes, and strategies, as well as existing capacities. We share insights from our partners to inform wider philanthropic practices.

Most importantly, our partners are building and offering alternative grassroots solutions for a more just and equitable world. 

Our Partnership Model

Thousand Currents partners are our teachers

Together, we are building relationships founded upon mutual trust, learning, and accountability.


Thousand Currents supports transformative work led by women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Our partners do all the work.

We are driven by and responsive to the priorities, visions, and needs of our partners. We provide funding as well as capacity strengthening and alliance building support to help them achieve their goals.

Key components of Thousand Currents’ partnership model: 

  • Long-term support: Lasting change takes time. It is nonlinear, often unpredictable, and requires efforts at multiple levels. In order to accompany our partners responsibly through many cycles of change, we provide long-term support that follows mutually established goals and outcomes as opposed to an artificial timeframe. This long-term approach has enabled us to build trusting and respectful relationships with our partners that extend beyond the time-bound transaction of resources and results.
  • Flexible, core funding: We provide general operating support with no strings or conditions attached. Because of our due diligence before committing to our partners, and because of our strong and continuous communication and trust-building with them, we do not dictate what strategies and activities our partners carry out. If our partners want to pay the light bill, or start a new program, it’s up to them. We trust that they know their needs best and can allocate resources accordingly.
  • Walk the talk: We approach our partnerships with a spirit of genuine curiosity, respect, and learning. We are values-driven and aim to show up as a partner and an ally working to dismantle the unjust power differentials inherent in international development and philanthropy, while also holding ourselves as accountable, transparent, kind, and loving. This is how we walk our talk.

Our partnerships also reflect components from our Theory of Change:

When grassroots groups and social movements have the relationships and financial and intellectual resources they desire, they are strengthened to transform the world by changing cultures, systems, and institutions towards self-determination, justice and equity around the world.

How effective is Thousand Currents’ Partnership Model?

We recognize that measuring impact is important. Especially when so much is at stake, it’s critical to know whether or not Thousand Currents’ partnership model is valid and relevant.

Therefore, Thousand Currents commissions external evaluations. The basic question we want to answer is this: How effective is Thousand Currents’ partnership model from the perspective of our partners? Sixteen organizations from six countries, which had been Thousand Currents partners for more than two years, participated in an evaluation in 2012. The results of the study are striking:

Among Thousand Currents partners:

  • 82% find Thousand Currents’ partnership model to be very or mostly effective.
  • 88% report they have been able to develop local, community-based solutions, either totally or to a great extent since receiving a grant from Thousand Currents.
  • 75% met all or almost half of their goals to address local needs with Thousand Currents’ support.
  • 75% identify a significant and substantive positive change in community members’ leadership.
  • 85% have developed strong alliances and links to social change movements internationally.

“Findings from [the] Learning and Evaluation Report affirmed the effectiveness of Thousand Currents partnership model. Its commitment to make long-term flexible grants to support locally-determined solutions is an extolled but still hard-to-find practice in philanthropy.” ~Shiree Teng, Independent Strategy and Evaluation Consultant

The full evaluation report (PDF) is available for download.
An Executive four-page summary (PDF) of key findings is also available.

Thousand Currents is proud to be ranked a Platinum Participant on GuideStar, rated 5 out of 5 stars on GreatNonprofits, and be given a score of 100% on “accountability and transparency” practices by Charity Navigator.

Grassroots Brilliance

Stories of our partners' impact

Africa | Food Sovereignty

How to win against Monsanto

What happens when David faces Goliath?

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Africa | Food Sovereignty

How to win against Monsanto

What happens when David faces Goliath?

Asia | Grassroots Leadership

Mobilizing millions

Rural women in Nepal are transforming the economic and political landscape in their country.

Climate Justice | Global

“Water is life ...”

The fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is a critical fight for all of us around the world.

Alternative Economies | Latin America

A new bottom line

Putting people over profits means a new bottom line.

Africa | Grassroots Leadership

Stepping into power

An emerging young women’s movement is continuing the work of the previous generation of women’s rights leaders in Zimbabwe.

Africa | Climate Justice

Victory in Durban!

It takes courage to shut down the expansion of Durban’s port.