Multi-donor trust funds (MDTFs) have become one of the most prominent aid modalities in the past decade (Barakat, 2009). The United Nations alone has raised USD 5.5 billion through MDTFs and, in the process, has placed civil society organizations at the center of efforts to secure human rights around the globe. Through a case study of UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality and a categorical analysis of MDTFs, this study shows that, even at their best, MDTFs are bound by institutional constraints and funding environments.
Amidst mounting claims that human rights and development goals are unattainable without active civil society participation, MDTFs offer a unique vehicle for governments and development agencies to directly strengthen, fund, and engage with civil society organizations. However, MDTFs can offer only limited new horizons of possibility to reach civil society actors and transform development financing.
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