Ploughshares Fund

Since its launch in 2016, the Peace and Security Funding Index has helped define the field of peace and security grantmaking. Each year, we collect and categorize thousands of grants awarded by hundreds of foundations working on peace and security issues across the globe. In 2015—the latest complete year for which grants data is available—336 foundations made 2,908 grants, totaling $351 million, in support of peace and security work.

In our three years of mapping peace and security grants, we have continually sought to improve the Index by collecting and responding to feedback. As a result, the Index now contains more issues (e.g., cybersecurity), provides a more detailed level of analysis of those issues, and offers a glimpse of more recent data. Despite these improvements, a persistent challenge to improving the Index is our dependency on grant descriptions, which are sometimes missing or lacking detail. More detailed grant descriptions would enable us to better capture peace and security funding, which in turn will help us better facilitate collaboration and increase transparency in the overall field.

Detailed grant descriptions in the data support a nuanced portrait of funding for peace and security work that crosscuts populations, strategies, issues, and regions. For example, we can track not only how much funding went towards conflict and atrocity prevention ($13.2 million in 2015) or the Middle East ($48.5 million), but how much funding for the Middle East was focused on conflict and atrocity prevention ($612,000). This level of specificity allows foundations and other stakeholders to more easily identify partners, and work together to focus their investments to avoid duplication and better leverage their comparative advantages. Given the enormity of global peace and security challenges relative to the amount of funding available (less than one percent of overall foundation giving goes towards peace and security issues), collaboration is imperative for increasing the impact of peace and security grants.

Supplying detailed grant descriptions is also a way for foundations to boost transparency around peace and security funding. In an era where the integrity and value of foundations, philanthropy, and the non-profit sector is being questioned, and sometimes repressed, increased transparency provides a means to counter the spread of misinformation about how funds are being used.

Ultimately, the quality of the Index directly depends on the grants data that we’re able to collect. We encourage foundations to share timely and detailed information about their grantmaking via Foundation Center’s eReporting program. Indeed, to the extent that greater knowledge sharing across the field can increase the effectiveness of peace and security grantmaking, we hope foundations will see the contribution of data as part of their broader efforts to increase global peace and security.

Alexandra I. Toma and Rachel LaForgia
Peace and Security Funders Group


The authors would like to thank the PSFG members who submitted their data and contributed spotlights on their grantmaking. We would also thank Lauren Bradford and Inga Ingulfsen of Foundation Center for their support on this project.

About the Peace and Security Funders Group

The Peace and Security Funders Group is a network of public, private, and family foundations, and individual philanthropists who make grants or expenditures that contribute to peace and global security. We maintain an informed, engaged and collegial community of funders, whose numbers and investments in the field are steadily increasing. We are dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of philanthropy that’s focused on peace and security issues. To this end, we facilitate the exchange of information and ideas; foster collaboration; and provide educational opportunities for our members. We also encourage new funders to join the field. Learn more at www.peaceandsecurity.org.

About Foundation Center

Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit Foundation Center’s website each day and are served in its five library/learning centers and at more than 450 Funding Information Network locations nationwide and around the world. Learn more at www.foundationcenter.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the information/data from?

Foundation Center, the leading source of philanthropy worldwide, compiles grants data from IRS Forms 990 and 990-PF, foundation websites and other public sources, as well as through direct reporting by grantmakers. The data included on the site and in the report is based on grantmaking by a set of the largest U.S. foundations, whose grants data is publicly available. It also includes foundations based in the U.S. and other countries that have provided grants data directly to Foundation Center.

Why does the data stop at 2016—where is the data from 2017 and 2018?

Because much of the grants information is collected from IRS forms or relies on direct reporting by foundations, there tends to be a several-year lag from the time a grant is made to when the data is made available to Foundation Center. Grants are then loaded to Foundation Center databases, cleaned, and indexed before researchers can develop the comprehensive data set of peace and security funding.

How do you define peace and security grantmaking?

Peace and security grantmaking includes all grants that aim to prevent and resolve conflict and to support stable, resilient societies. For the purposes of this project, PSFG’s definition of conflict includes recurrent violence involving multiple perpetrators and victims that takes place in locations where there is a partial or complete breakdown in the state’s monopoly on violence or perpetrated by the state itself against a civil population.

How has the project taxonomy changed since the Index was originally launched in April 2016?

For the 2017 Index, we refined our taxonomy and coding strategies in order to present a more precise picture of the peace and security funding landscape. Based on feedback we received from foundations, policymakers, and grantees, the website now displays data by 24 specific issue areas, rather than the five main issue categories that were used to organize the data on the site at the time of the initial launch. You can now see the regional breakdown, top funders, and strategies for each of these 24 issues. Website data from 2012 and 2013 have been mapped against the new taxonomy, as updated in 2017, though the associated key findings report based on 2013 data has not been updated and reflects the original taxonomy. In 2018, we added an additional issue category for cybersecurity, for which 2015 and 2016 grants data has been indexed.

Why is the data from 2016 so much lower than that from previous years?

Grants data from 2016 are still in the process of being indexed. Complete data will be added to the site once it’s ready later in 2018.

How can I help to improve this research?

Foundations can help to increase the timeliness and accuracy of the Peace and Security Index by submitting recent grants data with detailed descriptions identifying each grant’s purpose and goals. Our ability to provide a nuanced and up-to-date picture of the funding landscape depends on your support.

Who can I contact if I have questions, feedback, or want to learn more about submitting data?

Please contact Rachel LaForgia rlaforgia [at] peaceandsecurity [dot] org or Anna Koob aak [at] foundationcenter [dot] org.

What foundations are included in this mapping?

Funders included in the 2015 Peace and Security Index:

Starting in 2014, the Open Society Foundations’ grants data is reported by and attributed to the individual legal entities that constitute the Foundations. Prior to 2014, grantmaking from these funders are collectively attributed to ‘Open Society Foundations’.