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Conflict of Interest Policy

Vision Statement

The Steering Committee of the International Trans Fund (ITF) is committed to continue the development of the Fund to better resource trans movements globally. As a participatory and community-led grantmaker, we value involving activists from various, diverse and intersectional backgrounds and the variety of trans movements while building and maintaining a sustainable and trusted funding institution. We also acknowledge that the initial notions of conflicts of interest are rooted in a corporate and bureaucratic definition of conflict of interest by predominantly rich, white, cis men to consolidate and increase their own wealth.[1]

We recognize that trans activists operating in the Global South are more likely to be impacted by this policy and have conflicts of interest due to patterns of funding available globally, whilst Global North organizations have been funded at a greater level, and are therefore less likely to qualify for ITF funding.[2]

We recognize that asking the members of the Grant Making Panel (GMP) and Steering Committee (SC) to sign this Conflict of Interest Policy is not an ideal solution. However, in order to remain a sustainable and credible organization and to maintain the trust of the trans communities, we find it necessary to do so currently. This policy will be reviewed regularly to determine its usefulness and to make sure that it is not detrimental to the involvement of diverse members of the trans community in participating in the decision-making processes of the ITF. The initial review will be conducted after the first two grantmaking cycles implemented under this policy to verify its impact on specific groups within the trans community.

We are continuously committed to balancing the origin of conflict of interest policies with the need to be transparent and accountable to our communities, movements, and funders.

What is a conflict of interest?

A conflict of interest is defined as any situation in which an individual has a third-party interest (other than the ITF’s interest), either coming from their own engagement in another entity or that of a family[3] member.

Furthermore, the conflict of interest must also have the ability to impact decision-making processes within the ITF and that such impact, or the perception of such impact, may be detrimental to the ITF.

Any instance where it may be rationally suspected that an alternative interest impacts an individual’s capacity to perform their duties while maintaining high ethical standards (standards of fairness) is a perceived conflict of interest.

Conflicts of interest are an inevitable element of the life of any organization and may occur in many areas of functioning of the ITF, such as employment, procurement, or allocation of resources. In this policy, we wish to cover the area which impacts global trans communities the most: the ITF’s grantmaking.

Mitigation measures

A conflict of interest, even if only perceived, may be detrimental to the sustainability and credibility of the ITF. The following mitigation measures now apply:

Members of the SC and GMP are obliged to submit a signed Conflict of Interest Policy Signature Page and Declaration of Affiliation (Annex 1 & Annex 2), at least once a year.

Members of the SC and GMP are obliged to continuously reassess their engagements and declare possible conflicts of interests within and to both bodies, in line with the stipulations of this policy.

SC and GMP members or their family members cannot be significantly involved in any group that is applying for funding from the ITF. A person or their family member is considered significantly involved if any of the following conditions apply:

  1. Is a paid staff member;
  2. Is a board or steering committee member;
  3. Is involved in key decision-making in the organization;
  4. Is a volunteer that is significant in the organization (e.g. being involved in the day to day work of the organization or contributing more than 15 hours a week);
  5. Is legally or fiscally responsible;
  6. Is a paid consultant;
  7. Has been involved in any of the capacities mentioned above in the last 12 months.

In addition, members of the SC or GMP may not benefit financially from the grants they assess or from existing ITF grants.

A SC or GMP member and the organization they are involved in can apply for ITF funding immediately after said member has resigned from their position within the ITF.

In case of a breach of policy

The role of the Co-Chairs of the ITF Steering Committee is to uphold this policy for both the SC and the GMP. In cases of a suspected breach, the Co-Chairs are obliged to launch an investigation, including speaking to the staff of the ITF and the SC or GMP member involved. If the Co-Chairs of the SC determine that the member is in violation, the removal of the SC or GMP member will be held to a vote by the SC per the bylaws of the ITF. In cases where the issue concerns one of the SC Co-Chairs, the other Co-Chair will work with the SC Treasurer.

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[1] For a thorough review of this topic please see: T. Lankester, Conflict of Interest: A Historical and Comparative Perspective, University of Oxford, 2007, https://www.oecd.org/site/adboecdanti-corruptioninitiative/39368062.pdf.

[2] An eligibility criterion to quality for ITF funding is functioning on an annual budget to higher than 150 000 USD.

[3] By family member we understand legal, biological and chosen families.

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