The most troublesome factor related to the operation of an NGO that focuses on working for a specific social group concerns gathering sufficient funds. Fundraising processes usually take up all the year and only trained individuals can obtain funds by carrying out numerous tasks. From seeking support in the form of grants, government schemes as well as larger programs created for NGOs, the opportunities come in plenty. For instance, the European Union provides a variety of funding schemes from little grants to large long-lasting support schemes. Still, the process of obtaining them is tedious, time-consuming and filled with immense paperwork. In this article, we’ll try to help those who would like advice on how to obtain funds from the EU.

How can NGOs get funds from the EU? – table of contents:

  1. Why the EU supports NGOs?
  2. EU programs as sources of obtaining funds
  3. EU financial support – areas
  4. Obtaining EU funds for NGO activities – summary

Why the EU supports NGOs?

From the very onset of its existence (within the framework of the provisions found in the treaties of Maastricht: on the European Union and on the functioning of the European Union), the organization integrating European countries put emphasis on integration and social support of its member states.

One of the main goals the countries set was to restructure the economies after the Second World War. To this end, EU funds were created (structural and investment funds and other funds), some of which to implement operational programs. It is within the framework of these programs that non-governmental organizations may seek to obtain funding for their activities or projects. This is because the EU recognizes the existence of NGOs as essential for the preservation of active social life and participatory democracy, which is one of the goals of European integration.

EU programs as sources of obtaining funds

NGOs can apply to EU funding programs or to ESIF (European Structural and Investment Funds) established by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. Funding under EU programs applies only to NGOs registered in the European Union, i.e. in one of the 27 member countries. Keep in mind, that only a few of the available programs include a special earmarked section designed for NGOs.

NGOs are entitled – like any other public and private entity under an open call – to bring to bear funding from functioning programs. They receive it if they successfully – as in the case of grant competitions – meet the requirements of the calls for proposals.

EU financial support – areas

The current EU program operates on the basis of the Multiannual Financial Framework, i.e. the perspective of spending money from the EU budget adopted for a period of 5 years. Various EU entities manage their distribution – depending on the area of public life they conncern. Funding in the EU can come from the member country handling a particular program, EU bodies (European Commission) as well as internal agencies. NGOs can currently – based on the financial perspective for 2021-2027 – obtain funding from, among others.

  • European Executive Agency for Education and Culture (EACEA) under the “Creative Europe” program – support for all actions, projects and programs related to European culture and the creative sector,
  • European Executive Agency for Education and Culture (EACEA) under the “Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values” program – supports projects that promote the values and rights that underpin the functioning of the EU (enshrined in the founding Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights),
  • The European Executive Agency for Climate, Environment and Infrastructure (CINEA) and the European Executive Agency for Health and Digitization (HADEA) under the Connecting Europe Facility – financing activities related to transportation and mobility, ICT or energy,
  • Directorate General for European Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) – for organizations providing humanitarian aid.

Moreover, NGOs may apply for funding to:

  • From the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) from the institutions managing these funds within the EU country – for activities related to integration, gender equality or equal opportunities,
  • Horizon Europe research funding,
  • Under the “LIFE” program – funding in various areas related to the environment and action for the climate.

The above-mentioned programs are only the main examples currently operating in the EU that can support the activities of NGOs. The full catalog, along with calls for proposals, is regularly published by the Foreign Policy Instruments Service (FPI).


Obtaining EU funds for NGO activities – summary

Receiving funding from EU funds requires knowledge and experience in submitting applications under specific programs. Thus, it is worthwhile when preparing the letter to use the help of a person experienced in this area. This is because the competition in the European Union is extremely extensive, and only the proper completion of the application (e.g. in defining the goal and not confusing the goal with the action) will allow you to have a chance in the competition. It is also important not to give up because obtaining funds will undoubtedly significantly support the development of a particular NGO.

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Read also: Effective ways to run an NGO

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Author: Andy Nichols

A problem solver with 5 different degrees and endless reserves of motivation. This makes him a perfect Business Owner & Manager. When searching for employees and partners, openness and curiosity of the world are qualities he values the most.