The granddaughter of German engineer Robert Bosch, Ise Bosch is a German founder, managing director, and heiress. During the 1980’s, she attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she encountered the American understanding of philanthropy. Since then, she has become a prominent philanthropist, specifically in the areas of human rights, women’s rights and the rights of sexual minorities. She founded Astraea’s International Fund for Sexual Minorities in New York in 1996, and in 2001 she founded Filia, an internationally active women’s foundation in Hamburg, where she was a member of the Executive Board from 2003 to 2011. She is also the founder and managing director of Dreilinden gGmbH in Hamburg, which supports the rights of lesbian, bi-, trans, and intersex people.
In this video, Ise discusses donor activism, founding the International Fund for Sexual Minorities in 1996, and why she chooses to #GiveToAstraea.
I’ve been a donor to Astraea since 1996. We started with a project grant, project being international funding from Astraea. The first two years were like that, and this was really one of the great moments for me was when I heard from Katherine Acey back then,that they said, “We’ve looked at what we did these past two years, and now we want to take it on as our own program. We will start fundraising for the international program. To me, that was arrival. This was, “Yes, this can work out. I do want a long-term partner.” Astraea can do that.
When I connected with Astraea, it was 20 years ago. And it was with a concrete wish to do international funding. Astraea was interested in doing that, hadn’t started yet, but really wanted to. So they took me as a chance to get started and I’ve been watching it grow since then, go through many phases and meeting excellent folks working there. What satisfies me so much about the work is it’s a lot of work with beginnings. Pioneer work, as it’s called. That’s an American term, I guess. But it means you find, you connect for the first time, which always comes with a tremendous boost of energy.
I work with inherited money, took me quite a while to get to a place where I say that confidently. Because I’m just a human being who gets touched by what goes on around, and I consider money just a tool.
I feel in giving to Astraea it is a direct way to give to the movement, not only in terms of where the money goes, but also in terms of how that money is being distributed. There’s fresh influx of ideas and human resources from the movement into how the work happens at Astraea, so it stays up-to-date. It’s a living thing, and you’re part of a process. I consider myself part of the same movement that I’m funding, which means I get to think, too, and I get to have impact there. Which means I get to meet people personally.
I chose Astraea particularly as a lesbian-led organization to do what was then gay/lesbian funding because who is on the margins sees the larger picture. People who are in the larger picture don’t necessarily see the margin. We have to learn the language of the mainstream, so you get more if you have people from the marginal position actually running it.
We called. We have good reason. We know why we do what we want to do. Don’t forget your own radical edge, right? What makes you mad? It’s a very good source of energy. There’s many issues, and this is one where you can actually affect some change, and the whole thing still holds true: If we don’t do it, who will?