Non-governmental and civil society organisations are a natural target group eligible for a vast part of EU funding, as they are involved in many areas covered by EU policies on a non-profit basis, a precondition for receiving funding from EU coffers.
It is actually quite difficult to find an EU programme which would not in one way or another include a funding opportunity for NGOs. Funding is available both under programmes run by national and local authorities which are financed through structural funds, and under Commission-run programmes.
It is estimated that over € 1,000 million a year is allocated to NGO projects directly by the Commission, the major part in the field of external relations for development co-operation, human rights, democracy programmes, and, in particular, humanitarian aid (€ 400 million). Other important allocations are in the social (€ 70 million), educational (€50 million), and environmental sectors within the EU.
What sort of funding is available?
In practical terms, your NGO may receive two types of funding:
- Action Grant: You may submit a proposal for a concrete project under an EU programme which covers your area of activity and, if successful, this particular project will be co-financed by the EU through an action grant.
- Operating Grant: Under some programmes, and provided your NGO 'pursues an aim of general European interest or has an objective forming part of a European Union policy', the EU may directly subsidise your organisation through an operating grant. If this is the case, the grant is based on an analysis of the dimension of your activities, their scope, your annual work plan, its compatibility with the policy priorities, etc. rather than on individual projects.
Examples of centrally managed programmes which oversee operating grants for NGOs include Europe for Citizens (Action 2: Active Civil Society in Europe), Culture 2007 (Second strand: support for bodies active at the European level in the field of culture), and Progress (support for EU-level NGOs active in social inclusion, non-discrimination and gender equality).
How do we apply?
This will depend on the type of funding:
Where can we find further details?
- structural funds are managed at national or regional level and, as a result, applications are submitted to and evaluated by national or regional authorities;
- for EU grants, application procedures are set out in the calls for proposals for specific programmes, and you will apply directly to the European Commission or an executive agency which runs the programme in question.