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Last edited: September 14, 2012

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Various aspects of advocacy and fundraising are important in the early stages of shelter development to raise community awareness about violence against women and related issues, as well as the benefits provided by women’s shelters.

Advocacy practices at this stage may include:

  • Identifying “allies”, who may be potential donors or supporters in setting up the shelter. They may include elected officials, business owners, committed individuals, service groups, like-minded networks and members of partnering/ collaborating agencies. Media and representatives of social institutions may also be engaged. Allies may be identified through relationship-building in the community and through local events/activities and should demonstrate the following characteristics:
    • Belief in the work of the shelter
    • Ability to share the mission
    • Desire to get involved
    • Friends involved in related initiatives/services
    • Interest in making an impact
    • Possess relevant skills to contribute
    • Sense of obligation to take action to assist in addressing the relevant problems
  • Facilitating the involvement of allies through a variety of actions:
    • Regularly communicate (through electronic or print newsletters, websites, emails, in-person meetings or telephone calls) with supporters to inform them on progress and how they can participate in the shelter’s development.
    • Invite their input on important aspects of developing the shelter to gain insight and encourage their investment in shelter outcomes.
    • Engage supporters as volunteers based on their skills (e.g. facilitating linkages with service providers or authorities, public awareness efforts).
    • Invite them to participate in community events based on their interests or motivation for supporting the shelter (e.g. awareness-raising/ informational events, milestone celebrations and fundraisers).
    • Demonstrate appreciation by thanking contributors (e.g. sending thank you cards and publicly recognizing them at events, where possible).
  • Encouraging awareness and support for the shelter through:
    • Informational and communication materials, presented in different formats and addressing various audiences (e.g. media, elected officials, social institutions, other non-governmental organizations). These can raise awareness and reinforce positive messages about shelter services, for example, through brochures or bulletins that summarize relevant research, evidence of need and international, regional and national commitments to the issue. Where necessary, precaution should be taken to keep actual shelter locations confidential and provide a resource number only.
    • Special events, such as launching an awareness-raising campaign.


In Denmark, as part of its National Action Plan, the Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs and the Minister for Gender Equality have produced five information films telling ethnic minority women of their rights and assistance available in the country. The films show women’s encounters with the police, shelter, municipality, state and lawyers. The films are distributed to, among others, shelters, schools, women’s high schools, counselling facilities for women and ethnic minorities, residents’ counsellors, municipalities and institutional libraries, such as the Police College and College of Social Work. The five films are available in ten languages (Arabic, Danish, English, Farsi, Greenlandic, Russian, Somali, Thai, Turkish and Urdu).

See the film on accessing shelter:     

Source: Council of Europe. 2008. “Report on initiatives to combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence.” Denmark;