The International Education Funders Group (IEFG) is an affinity network of foundations and donor-advised funds that support basic education in the Global South (low and middle-income countries). Our interests cover early childhood through to secondary education, as well as non-formal education, youth and skills, and adult education. In recognition of the lifelong learning continuum of SDG4, we also welcome new members who focus on tertiary education as long as this is not their sole focus in education. Much of our work aims to support the education targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals and Education 2030.

We are a member-driven group, focused primarily on co-learning, information exchange and networking, trying to collectively strengthen our members’ work and knowledge of the field. The IEFG does not seek to directly influence education policy agendas and spaces, but rather its purpose is to help private funders have a stronger voice and impact in education by improving their strategic analyses and thinking, informing and assisting their grantmaking, and providing opportunities for collective learning and action.

The emergence of the IEFG follows on several foundations’ efforts since 2008 to informally convene foundations and donor-advised funds engaged in education grantmaking in the developing world.  The group has grown organically from 14 members in 2010 to around 100 grantmakers today (foundations, donor-advised funds, corporate giving programs, and charities).

Members of the International Education Funders Group (IEFG) are grantmakers that aim to promote Basic Education in the Global South. Membership is for organisations who fulfil the IEFG Membership Criteria.

Being a member-led group, our Secretariat is purposely small and light-touch, and we adhere to the principle of form following function. The Secretariat is guided by a Steering Committee of 9-16 IEFG members, which is balanced to reflect the diversities of geographies, scale, and funding types within the wider membership. The Firelight Foundation, serves as Treasurer and Fiscal Sponsor of the group. From FY20 onwards, all members are asked to contribute according to a tiered system based on their annual education-focused giving.

Key Activities

  • Monthly newsletters to keep up on the field – collated by the Secretariat and by members recommendations. (this is one of the most valued aspects of the group for both active and quiet members).
  • Biannual members meetings focused on key issues in the field, as determined and as planned by the membership. We also hold ad-hoc member meet-ups, as requested, to both learn and network.
  • Convening space to tap into the international education agendas: we host the Global Partnership for Education – Foundation Constituency; as well as providing opportunities for foundations to interact and feed into the UN’s SDG 2030 Education Steering Committee, the Global Education Monitoring Report, and bilateral and multilateral actors in the education space.

Levels of Collaboration

The group has agreed to work on the three levels of collaboration (members participate as much or as little as is useful to them):

  • Sharing information
  • Learning collectively
  • Developing informal alliances

Key Themes

The IEFG has a number of thematic subgroups with new ones emerging regularly in response to global needs and development. These ebb and flow depending on member input. Our current thematic subgroups are:

  • Evidence, Evaluation and Learning Outcomes Measurement
  • Influencing the Global Development and Education Agendas
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Post- Primary and Girls’ Education
  • Funders of early stage support (i.e. smaller grants, often small/family foundations)
  • Education and Resilience/Conflict
  • Teacher Training and Professional Development
  • Human Rights and Social Justice Approaches
  • Technical and Vocational Education and Skills Training (TVET)
  • Tertiary Education


The IEFG has recently begun to organise subgroups centred on where we work and fund. Each subgroup has their own community page on the IEFG Portal. Our current geographic subgroups are:

  • Middle-East and North Africa-focussed Foundations
  • Sub-Saharan Africa focussed Foundations
  • Central Asia-focussed Foundations
  • South Asia-focussed Foundations (predominantly India)
  • East and South-east Asia-focussed Foundations
  • Latin America-focussed Foundations
  • UK-based Foundations (Foundations with offices in the UK)
Collage of students across the globe. Photos by Dana Schmidt and Images of Empowerment. Do not copy without permission.
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