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Grants Call for NGOs (Core grants)

Due to the pandemic and the results of our financial analysis, we are inviting additional organizations to submit applications by 27th November 2020. New applicants should comply with all eligibility rules outlined in the original call AND work exclusively or primarily on women’s and girls’ rights.

Questions and answers:

If you have a question about the grant application process, please look below for answers. If you cannot find your answer there, send us an email at obshchestvennaya.podderzhka.sp[at] . Your question (anonymized) and our answer will also be published at – our Frequently Asked Questions section.

Eligibility to apply:

Grant applicants must be:

  • Registered as non-commercial, non-government organizations in the Russian Federation. They must have been registered before December 1, 2019.
  • In exceptional cases, registration as a non-commercial organization is not required, if the group of people behind the entity has made an informed, deliberate and documented (before December 1, 2019) decision that registration as a non-commercial entity would negatively impact the dynamics, values and authenticity of their collective. In this case, however, another registered Russian non-commercial entity must be found that can act as a financial administrator. That administrator has to comply with our financial management requirements.
  • Organizations that have a track record of no less than two years of work at the time of application. If they got registered at a later point, they are still eligible to apply, as long as they can demonstrate that they started working at least two years prior to December 1, 2019.
  • Willing and able to receive wire transfers into their official, organizational bank accounts in Russia, based on a contract with Peacebuilding UK.
  • With a proven track record of complying with all applicable Russian laws – labour law, tax law, laws applying to non-commercial organizations etc.
  • Have a track record of sound financial management. This is not just because we consider this indispensable, but also because our grant-making and thus the financial management of our grantees will be audited in great detail by our donor, the European Commission. This financial management track record can be demonstrated by recent audits by reputable Russian and international auditing companies, or sharing your accounting records with our financial manager. If you are not certain whether your financial management complies with our requirements, please contact us, and we can review it together. Please be aware that this means that already during the selection process, we will have to do a basic review of your financial management.
  • Registered and de facto operating in a municipality of less than 2 million residents, where they conduct all or most of their work. Organizations conducting their work nationwide or in more than 5 Federal subjects are not eligible. Why? Because this grant competition is supposed to strengthen organizations who focus on protecting the human rights of residents of their community, including by being easily accessible to them on a local level.
  • Organizations of an annual budget of an average of 100 000 € (on this, exceptions may be made, especially if more than 50% of their funding for the anticipated grant period is already secured). This may be their de facto budget (measured on average over the past 5 years), or their demonstrated budget needs. However, the distance between the de facto budget and the budget needs can’t be too great. For example, if your organization has never raised more than €10 000 a year, but dreams of all the great things it might do with €100 000, it is not eligible for this grant call. However, it may be eligible for another current grant call, for smaller human rights organizations, by our partner organization Stichting Justice Initiative [].
  • Working on human rights, which means:
  • documenting and/or raising awareness (including through education) of contemporary human rights violations;
  • and/or protecting/defending victims of human rights violations (by pursuing justice or seeking compensation or pressing for restoration of rights, holding perpetrators accountable, and/or simply offering victims de facto protection against clearly imminent violations, e.g. a shelter for survivors of domestic violence);
  • focusing on the creation of practices and policies that lead to better compliance with human rights requirements.
  • “Human rights” encompasses civil, political, social and economic rights, as defined by the Russian constitution, legislation and applicable international law (i.e. customary international law or international instruments signed and ratified by the Russian Federation). Thematically, the following areas of human rights will be prioritized (will receive a small number of additional points in the technical review) in the selection of grantees: women’s human rights, violence against women, rights of LGBTQ individuals, freedom of expression, assembly and association; human rights and the environment; rights in the context of government services (healthcare, education, housing, pensions, infrastructure etc.). However, human rights organizations working in other fields are eligible and welcome to apply and may make up the difference in points in other parts of the evaluation.
  • Organizations that support victims of human rights violations in ways that do not protect them or restore justice (e.g. psychological counselling for torture victims, organizations that offer job training to victims of domestic violence) are not eligible to win our grants. This is not because we do not value your work – we do! It is because we aim to limit the number of applicants, so that we can conduct a meaningful evaluation process and not cause too many organizations to lose time, nerves and resources on a grant application that will not be successful.
  • Organizations that directly meet the social rights of people – their right to education by providing free education, their right to healthcare by offering free medical treatment, their rights to housing by giving them a home etc. – are not eligible to apply for our grants. This is not because we do not appreciate this kind of work. It is because we want to limit eligibility to those whose missions are close to the objectives of this project and its funder, the European Commission’s EIDHR program. We don’t want hundreds of organizations across Russia to spend time, effort and nerves on grant applications that will not result in funding for them.
  • Have to take a comprehensive and principled position on the human rights of all people. Organizations expressing or having expressed any discriminatory or derogatory positions on any groups will not be eligible for our grants. Such views include, among others, homophobia, misogyny and patriarchal positions, downplaying of violence experienced by certain groups, prejudiced views of any religious or ethnic or otherwise distinct social groups, limiting anyone’s rights to freedom of expression, expressions that amount to hate speech or calls for/endorsing any form of violence. This also applies to views expressed by any staff members of the organization, and to the record of the organization and its staff members prior to our grant contract. If an organization has become our grantee and thereafter engages in such speech or actions, or we are informed of any such actions or statements made before the grant period, the grant contract will be revoked, and remaining tranches will not be released. We adopted this requirement because we feel strongly that scarce and much-needed resources should not go to those who perpetrate or endorse hatred, prejudice, oppression, exclusion and (threats of) violence.
  • Committed and motivated to develop and expand healthy, diversified, sustainable models of financing their work. Such financial models may include donations, membership fees, monetization of services and products, crowdfunding, endowments or other forms of income generated from capital, pro bono services from external volunteers, social enterprise, all or mostly focused on generating income from Russian sources. This list is not exhaustive, and we are looking forward to learning more about your innovative financial models. Your commitment and motivation will be assessed based on your previous experience and current practices. Organizations that have never engaged in any non-grant resource mobilization will only be considered if they have especially weighty reasons for this (for example, if any publicity about their work would expose them to severe threats) and if they can convince us that they are nevertheless serious about developing a new financial model.
  • Willing to raise a percentage of their grant amount through the above-mentioned non-grant, domestic income mobilization methods during the course of the grant period. The exact percentage will be determined based on their previous/current income from such source and an assessment of realistic goals that reflect your target audiences, the direction of their work and other context. Grantees have to commit to using at least two distinct forms of non-grant resource mobilization throughout the grant period. If the agreed fundraising goals are not met every other month, we will not release the next tranche of our grant. To assist in satisfying this requirement we will give you the support of some of Russia’s and the world’s best experts to assist you with raising these funds.
  • Willing and able to generate legal cases for litigation in first-instance, appeals or international courts. Grant applicants do not have to provide legal consultations, represent clients or go to court themselves in order to be eligible for our grants. Nor do they have to conduct litigation after they receive a grant from us. But as part of their core work we encourage grants applicants to identify situations of human rights violations that can be referred to our partners (three of Russia’s leading legal organizations – Astreya, Agora and Kommanda 29) for litigation. If your organization conducts its own litigation, you are of course not obliged to refer your cases to our partners. If you are not sure whether or how your organization could generate cases for litigation, please ask us while you prepare your application.

What will these grants will look like:

  • Grants should cover costs related to carrying out the mission of your organization – salaries of current staff, rent, basic operations, basic routine needs of clients – so that you can continue your main work. No new and separate “project” is required.
  • The grant period should be at least one year. It can be stretched to up to 18 months, if this better serves the interests of the grantee.
  • The maximum grant amount we can provide is €60 000. This is a condition from our donor, the European Commission.
  • The grant amount we will give you depends on your financial needs and your financial situation over the last 3-5 years. Our grants should be no more than 60% of your core funding needs for the grant period. However, they can be a smaller percentage, depending on your organization’s financial position.
  • Grant applicants will need to show us which current non-grant sources of income they have and what percentage of their annual budget needs they raise in this way. Based on their success to date and their potential for growth in the context in which they operate, we will agree on a new goal for non-grant income for the grant period and on at least two new forms of resource mobilization they have to try. For example, if a grant applicant has raised an average of 5% of their annual budget from donation boxes until now, we might agree to increase this to 15% over the course of the grant period, by also generating income from two new and additional forms sources. The percentage to be raised from domestic, non-grant sources will be determined only once a grant application has been approved.
  • Our donor, the European Commission, also requires that we do not award or continue grants to subgrantees if:
  1. they are bankrupt or being wound up, are having their affairs administered by the courts, have entered into an arrangement with creditors, have suspended business activities, are the subject of proceedings concerning those matters, or are in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for in national legislation or regulations;
  2. they have been convicted of an offence concerning their professional conduct by a judgment which has the force of res judicata;
  3. they have been guilty of grave professional misconduct proven by any means which the Beneficiary can justify;
  4. they have not fulfilled obligations relating to the payment of social security contributions or the payment of taxes in accordance with the legal provisions of the country in which they are established or with those of the country of the Beneficiary or those of the country where the contract is to be performed;
  5. they have been the subject of a judgment which has the force of res judicata for fraud, corruption, involvement in a criminal organisation or any other illegal activity detrimental to the Communities’ financial interests;
  6. they are currently subject to an administrative penalty referred to in section 2.6.10 of the Practical Guide to contract procedures for EC external actions.

Other useful things you should know:

  • We have €930 000 to give away as grants. So if the maximum grant amount per grantee is €60,000, this means we can award a maximum of 15 grants. However, if some grantees request smaller amounts (as we expect many will), we will be able to make more than 15 grants.
  • This is a one-time grant competition, which will not be repeated. The European Commission, from which we have obtained this funding in the 2019 EIDHR call for Russia, will not automatically give us funding again to hold another such grant call. We do not know whether such funding will be available to us in the future, or if so, when that would be, and we certainly cannot predict whether we will win any future grant competitions by the European Commission or other major donors.
  • What do we mean by participatory grant-making? This is a mechanism that involves local constituencies in the assessment of grant applications, in order to make civil society organizations more accountable to members of their communities. In practice, this means our team will conduct a first round of technical reviews, in which we check whether applicants meet our thematic, legal, geographic and financial management requirements. This will be done based on a short, written proposal and, where needed, email correspondence for clarifications. Those who meet all criteria move on to the second round, in which grant applicants will present their proposals to groups of community members in the city or region in which they operate.
  • No less than half of our grant funding will go to organizations working on women’s human rights and on ending violence against women. We have made this determination because women experiencing gender-based violence constitute by far the largest group of victims of human rights violations in Russia, and because until now, the resources available to defend women’s rights in Russia have been vastly smaller than those allocated to other areas of human rights work. For the purposes of this grant call, “organizations working on women’s human rights and on ending violence against women” means organizations whose work benefits women exclusively, is based on a feminist, rights-based approach and where only women make all programmatic and financial decisions.
  • If you have been registered as a “foreign agent”, you are no less eligible to apply for a grant from us for that reason. Getting registered as a foreign agent during our grant period does not affect your continued funding from us, either. However, our grants cannot be used to pay for fines incurred for violating the conditions of that status.