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Latin American Digital Rights Donors and Grantees

Ford Foundation


Since 2016, Spitfire Strategies has supported the Ford Foundation’s efforts to advance digital rights across Latin America by convening the foundation’s cohort of Latin American digital rights grantees and donors to share knowledge, collectively strategize, build capacity and collaborate. 

When Ford first approached Spitfire to design and facilitate a convening space, their donors and grantees - while working on intersecting issues in the same region - were working to advance digital rights in silos. We knew that advancing digital rights in Latin America required a coordinated approach, and that the efforts of each of these organizations would be significantly bolstered through the support of their colleagues across the field. We also knew that in order to facilitate professional collaboration across these organizations, we first had to build authentic interpersonal relationships and trust among them. Spitfire got creative to intentionally design and facilitate a series of virtual convenings that would allow grantees and donors to build deep, authentic relationships across the region, all while connecting remotely. 

Since 2021, Spitfire has convened 10  (six in 2021, and four in 2022) convenings for donors and seven (five in 2021 and two in 2022) for grantees. For each convening, Spitfire has designed an interactive and engaging agenda that would allow the participants to build relationships, explore new topics, share learnings and collaborate to overcome challenges. 

For all convenings, Spitfire is responsible for the meeting design and facilitation, the creation of all supplementary materials, and preparing the speakers. For each session, we identified, recruited, and prepared prominent leaders to speak to the group on the most pressing issues. To maintain the continuity and authenticity of the space, Spitfire prepared each speaker to lead an open discussion that did not feel like a formal presentation. We also worked with them to ensure the learnings they were bringing to the space were applicable across the entire region, rather than favoring one country over another, to ensure a value-add for all participants who are based across the region.

To ensure the convening spaces reflect the needs and priorities of grantees and donors, which is Ford’s primary goal, Spitfire creates ongoing and open opportunities for donors and grantees to share feedback and contribute to the design of each meeting. 

Among the group of grantees, they have prioritized focusing their meeting space on learning from organizations and activists working on intersectional issues including environmental rights, racial justice, and gender and LGBTQIA+ groups.  Donors have elected to focus on how issues of polarization are impacting the region, and have prioritized sharing learnings from the field on how to best combat it.  This grantee and donor led design has also allowed grantees and donors to dictate the issue areas of focus for each space and name when they would like opportunities to hear from and learn from each other. That connective tissue across has begun to be built with grantees occasionally sharing their on the ground learnings with donors to help inform their understanding of the region’s most pressing problems and ultimately the work they decide to fund. 

Spitfire has also built spaces to connect in between sessions to ensure consistency and maintain ongoing communication between convenings. For grantees this meant designing a Spanish-language newsletter called Conexiones designed to amplify each other’s latest work and research and highlight prominent learnings and events from across the field of digital rights. This helped ensure that the grantee convening space was open for rich discussion while still giving grantees the opportunity to showcase their work. For donors, this meant crafting additional “brown bag” learning sessions to dig deeper on issues of urgency and interest, such as the impact of polarization on democracy throughout the region during the time of critical elections in Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil. 

Spitfire is honored to continue our partnership with the Ford Foundation, their grantees and their peer donors in our ongoing convening series and we’re looking forward to gathering together in person in late 2022. 

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