Why Is This Mystery Funder Suddenly Giving Big to Stop Child Marriage?

For several years, little was known about the Kendeda Fund, one of larger anonymous funders around. (It moved $29 million out the door in 2012, and its assets keep growing.) Kendeda doesn't have a website and its 990s have carefully shrouded who's behind its giving. All we knew was that Kendeda was bankrolled by Home Depot stock and its donors were big into the environment, its exclusive grantmaking focus. 

Now we know that its donors are also very concerned about child marriage. Last August, it was reported that Kendeda would give $23 million to tackle this problem, making it instantly one of the largest funders in this space. The money will go to just two groups: Care USA and American World Jewish Service. But it's a safe bet that there is plenty more money for girls rights where that came from. Home Depot has created several billionaires, and Kendada is clearly tapping into one of those fortunes. 

Kendeda won't ring a bell with many development NGOs for the simple reason that, up till now, its grantmaking has been almost exclusively focused on the environment. That's no longer the case. 

So why the shift? We'll keep exploring that question, but think of it this way: Anonymous funds often are guided by more than one person—say, a married couple. Or, say, the progressive heirs to a Home Depot fortune. These funders may have different interests. One sibling may be interested in the environment, and they get their way for a while. But another sibling may be interested in women's rights and development, and something changes—for instance, the sibling keen on women's rights takes a more hands-on role in the giving, and those interests come to the fore. 

Stayed tuned on this one. It's an intriguing story.