Basics of Fundraising

EU Funding


What can Eurodiaconia do for you

European Commission

This toolkit has received financial support from the European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation "EaSI" (2014-2020). For further information please click here. Last updated: December 2016.

Fundraising Strategy

A good fundraising strategy is the backbone of successful fundraising. It gives an overview of the needs of your organisation, the sources from which you can seek funding and includes a strategic plan looking at the types of funding desired and how to access them.

Your fundraising strategy should include the following information:

  • Description of your organisation
  • Outline of your vision and mission
  • Needs of your organisation
  • Agreed principles (ethical policy)
  • Your main selling points
  • Available sources of income and methods used to access them
  • Summary of your current financial situation
  • SWOT analysis (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
  • Goals and major projects
  • Medium-term financial plan
  • Challenges/barriers to fundraising your organisation could experience
  • Snapshot of your fundraising environment

The fundraising strategy should help you to make decisions regarding your funding priorities, your available budget for fundraising activities and time limits. It is imperative to do enough research into each of the funding sources you identified before approaching them and to use a variety of sources to avoid putting a lot of work in a single source to finally receive a rejection.

Read more:

For more detailed information, see the Manual on Fundraising and Accessing EU Funds, published by TACSO - Technical Assistance for Civil Society Organisations on page 102.

Skills of a Fundraiser

Fundraising does not only require conducting thorough research, but also the ability to communicate the right message to the right people. Therefore, a number of people skills and organisational skills are needed to build lasting relationships with donor organisations and individuals. The graphic below shows some of the characteristics a good fundraiser should have:

Good communicator, good networking abilities
Ability to build and cultivate relationships, persuasive
Enthusiastic, committed
Proactive, flexible, fast thinker

Sources of Funding

Sources of funding diaconal organisations can tap, range from individual options to corporate funding, foundations and public funding.

Here you can see a list of sources and ways to approach them that could be relevant to your organisation:

Public Funding

  • Public Procurement
  • EU Grants
  • Public subsidies/grants
  • EU calls for tender


  • Grants

Corporate Funding

  • Donations
  • Pro-bono services
  • Sponsoring
  • Events
  • Tax incentives
  • Subcontracting services to NGOs
  • Grants
  • Team-building exercises

Individual Donors

  • Face-to-face, door-to-door
  • Legacies
  • Major individual donors
  • Events
  • Merchandise
  • Crowdfunding
  • Advertisement/Social
  • Media/Campaigns
  • Direct Mail


In this toolkit we are particularly looking at EU funding instruments and foundations.

Examples from members:

In the framework of a research project looking at how Eurodiaconia members finance their services, we have conducted case studies to explore some of the financing methods used by our members in more detail.

City Mission Oslo have used public funding to implement an innovative day-care scheme for older people with dementia, which offers them the chance to work on a farm for three days a week. For more details, read the case study here.

Kofoeds Skole have financed activation, rehabilitation and training for the long-term unemployed through public contracts. For more details, read the case study here.

Gothenburg City Mission are working against social exclusion with private donations. For more details, read the case study here.

Diakonie Austria are providing people with disabilities access to assistive technologies in a corporate partnership. For more details, read the case study here.

The German umbrella ‘Protestant Agency for Diakonieand Development’ (EWDE, Evangelisches Werk für Diakonie und Entwicklung) sell and distribute branded products. 20-25% of the products are distributed against a cost. Therefore, this case study serves more as an example for marketing and branding. For more details, read the case study here.

Read more:

The Fundraising Handbook published by Habitat for Humanity includes information on how to write a letter for appeal, online giving, individual donors, events, merchandise and other creative ideas to raise funds.

A briefing by Social Services Europe on the EU Public Procurement Directive can be accessed here.

Information collected at a Eurodiaconia member training seminar in 2012 on non-statutory sources of financing include individual and major donors as well as working with cooperations and can be accessed here.

Background information on EU Funding

Overview on EU Funding

The European Union provides funding and grants for a broad range of projects and programmes, financed out of the EU’s budget, as defined through a Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the EU’s long-term spending plan for the period 2014 - 2020. The MFF sets out the maximum budget for the EU in six broad areas. This division into six categories of expenses ('headings') is corresponding to different areas of EU activities:

  • Smart and Inclusive Growth
  • Competitiveness for growth and jobs
    Erasmus+, EaSi, Horizon 2020
  • Economic, social and territorial cohesion
    Structural and Investment Funds, Youth Employment Initiative
  • Sustainable Growth: Natural Resources
  • Security and citizenship
    Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund; Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme; Europe for Citizens Programme
  • Global Europe
  • Administration
  • Compensations

The EU funds can roughly be divided into three types: structural and investment funds, programmes and initiatives and third country funds. Whilst the first two types are allocated internally within the EU, the latter particularly addresses actions outside the EU.

EU funds are mostly allocated through grants awarded on the basis of calls for proposals, in which different actors compete for the support of the EU. Two types of grants can by distinguished:

  1. action grants for projects with a limited lifetime during which proposed specific activities are implemented; and
  2. operating grants providing financial support for the regular work and activities of an organisation.

Furthermore, the EU awards public contracts through calls for tenders (public procurement) to buy services, goods or works that ensure the operations of the EU institutions and their programme. Several other types of financing by EU funds exists, such as direct subsidies, which are not part of this toolkit.

Who is managing the funding and decides on awarding grants/contracts?

EU Member States

The European Commission designates national or regional managing authorities according to the shared management principle. This means that the European Commission only supervises the implementation of funds, but the Member State takes responsibility for the management. (for example in the case of the European Structural and Investment Funds)

The calls for proposals are published by the national or regional managing authorities on the basis of operational programmes, which outline the investment strategy of each fund or priority.

European Commission

Centrally managed programmes, i.e. the responsible department (Directorate General) or external agency publishes calls for proposals that invite candidates to present project proposals, selects projects, monitors the implementation and evaluates the outcome.

Call for proposals

  • A call for proposals signifies that applications for funding are welcome during a certain period and until a certain deadline. Depending on the programme, calls for proposals are published once or several times a year.
  • Purpose: a transparent application process where all applications have the same conditions.

Where to find calls for proposals?

At European level calls for proposals can be found on the website of the EU funding programmes, which should be checked on a regular basis. In the section of this toolkit on EU funding programmes the links to the respective websites are listed.

At national level members can consult the website of the National Agency or National Contact Point responsible for the programme they are targeting or call the agency directly in order to get more information on open or upcoming calls for proposals. In the section of this toolkit on EU funding programmes the links to the website of the European Commission listing national agencies can be accessed.

Step-by-step guide to developing a project proposal for EU funding

Ask yourself the following questions before you start working on a project outline.

  • Does your organisation have sufficient expertise in the area of intervention and financial independence?
  • Does your organisation exists for at least three years and is in possession of sufficient own resources to guarantee the pre-financing of the project?

Before writing the project proposal, it is important to check if the chosen funding call can be used for the participating organisations and planned actions. Most of the time, the calls outline different eligibility criteria and preconditions for participation, several examples are listed below.

  • Eligible legal entity
    Most calls are directed towards a specific type of legal entity, or require partnerships with certain forms of entities. These can be for example public bodies, research institutes, civil society organisations.
  • Financial capacity
    Funding programs often only co-finance projects and thus require the funded organisations to give proof of their financial capacities to provide the required share of resources.
  • Deadline and duration of project
    Calls for project proposals usually have strict deadlines by which the entirety of requested information and documents need to be submitted, as well as a set time frame by which the project must have started and/ or ended. These dates need to be carefully taken into consideration when planning the application process.
  • Thematic focus
    Projects have to fulfil certain thematic priorities and objectives in order to be considered for funding (set out in funds’ operational programmes). The project needs to be clearly designed towards reaching these goals, which is why they should be considered before writing the actual proposal. Being familiar with the purpose of the funds and with their operational plans is therefore crucial.
  • Eligible activities
    Some projects only fund a specific set of activities, such as mobility projects or research projects. Make sure to have looked into the chosen activities beforehand.
  • Eligible participants
    Some projects aim at helping a specific target group

The project outline could be 3-5 pages long, depending on the complexity of the project, and should include the following sub-categories:

  • project title
  • lead applicant/partners
  • objectives/outcomes
  • planned activities
  • implementation schedule
  • target group
  • financial planning
  • contact address

The project outline helps to make a loose idea more precise and serves as a clear format to share with potential partners and give a good idea of the project and whether it could be relevant to them.

Writing a project proposal can be very time consuming and in most cases might require the effort of more than one person. When a call for proposal is published it is important to read the conditions for participation and the financial regulation very carefully before starting on the proposal.

EU calls for proposals generally follow a similar template for the application form and most of them use an online application tool. Nevertheless, a paper version of all documents needs to be handed in on top of the online application in some cases.

The elements with highest importance are the description of the action, expected outcomes as well as the budget and the work plan which should reflect the actions and expected results.

Find below a summary of the main elements of a project application:

  • Aim of the project: Include quantifiable statements which can be assessed to determine whether the project has been successfully implemented. The aim should include information about what will be implemented in which timeframe and for which budget.
  • Project actions: State specific measures that are implemented in the course of the project, such as workshops, publications or social services.
  • Results: What results are you aiming for? These can be of material or immaterial nature.
  • European added value: This is the European dimension of a project. Here applicants must show the transnational character of the planned activities and that social, cultural, economic or other advantages are created for participating countries or regions.
  • Sustainability: This point is highly valued when applying for EU funding and therefore it is important to show how project achievements will continue when the funding period is over.

Recommended Tools

  • Logical Framework (Logframe): The logframe is a helpful tool to structure the project development. It includes all elements necessary for a coherent project proposal in a matrix.
  • Gantt Chart
    First list the expected results in terms of deliverables, then draw a corresponding list of tasks necessary for their production and gather tasks under workpackages (such as communication, evaluation). To schedule and manage tasks, define the duration of work packages and tasks.

When designing the budget, attention has to be paid to make it coherent, balanced, reasonable and it must include only eligible cost. Eligible costs are those costs directly related to the proposed project, for which an actual expense is incurred and an actual payment is made. For example, paid staff time devoted to an activity would be an eligible expense. Voluntary staff time, on the other hand, might have value but does not result in an actual expense or payment. It would therefore be considered 'in-kind' and would not be considered an eligible cost to be included in the project budget. Costs for preparing the project are usually not eligible for EU funding. All costs related to the implementation of the specific project, such as the purchase of equipment, office material, the renting of facilities, insurance costs and communication costs are potentially eligible as indirect project cost. The personnel costs have to include all related costs, such as the employer’s contribution to social security, taxes and charges, holidays and special payments. The work of volunteers cannot be included in the draft budget. Further types of costs that can be covered by EU funding are travel costs, daily rates for food and accommodation, as well as costs for subcontracting, such as interpreting services. Most of the project funds apply a co-financing principle by which the EU covers a certain percentage of the overall costs and the applicants have to cover the rest. The maximum co-financing rates as well as more specific rules on the eligibility of costs are specified in each call for proposal.

EU grants may take any of the following forms:

  • Reimbursement of a specific proportion of the eligible cost actually incurred
    • The applicant will define his expenditure in terms of real costs (where maximum eligible rates may apply). European Union financing will be calculated by applying a percentage to real eligible expenditure. The contribution will be reduced pro rata if, at final reporting stage, the project is not fulfilled or is only partially fulfilled or funds have been spent on ineligible expense items.
    • In the case of (the part of) a grant awarded on the basis of real costs, the beneficiary shall keep and be able to produce upon request all proofs of expenditure related to the expense items based on real costs.
  • Lump Sums
    • In the case of grants awarded as a lump sum, the beneficiary has to be able to prove that the activity for which grant support is awarded has really taken place, rather than the actual amount of expenditure. If the supported activity is realised in a satisfactory manner, the full grant amount is acquired.
  • Flat rate financing
    • In the case of flat-rate grants using scales of unit costs (for example maximum daily rates for subsistence), the beneficiary does not have to justify the costs incurred but has to be able to prove the reality of activities resulting into the entitlement to a specific grant amount.
  • A combination

European Funding Instruments often suggest or require to create partnerships for a project proposal. There are a number of sources to consult when looking for project partners. Success stories of previous projects, partner search databses and compendia are tools that are available at EU level. Find below a number of websites to consult when you start your research. There are many more opportunities out there and it is therefore imperative to spend sufficient time on conducting research and identifying further sources for information.

European Commission Youth compendia
Information on the accepted projects that can be used for partner search as well.

Lifelong Learning Project Partner Search
A tool to look for partners in the area of lifelong learning.

EU Research Partner Search
A tool to look for partners in the area of research

Otlas Partner-Finding Tool for International Youth Projects
Tool to search for partners from a database with more than 5400 organisations and informal groups

Best practice database from YOUTH IN ACTION Programme (2007-2013)
This database is a compendium of Youth Initiatives (Action 1.2) and Youth Democracy Projects (Action 1.3) supported by the European YOUTH IN ACTION Programme (2007-2013)

Awarded grants by Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion of the European Commission
A list grants and which projects/operations have been funded from 2004 to 2013

At national level the national agency or contact point responsible for the programme relevant for your organisation is a good address to turn to in search of partners. Again it is important to conduct sufficient research and find out whether there are any other project partnership databases or search tools available in your national language.

Another source for information are European networks and umbrella organisations who often provide funding information on their website and could potentially identify suitable partners from within their membership.

Eurodiaconia as a network of social and health care providers from all over Europe can help members to find suitable partners for transnational project calls. In order to get an overview of Eurodiaconia members, please consult our webpage here. In case you want to get in contact with a specific member, you can directly use the contact information provided on the website or contact Eurodiaconia’s Policy, Projects and Research Officer Florian Tuder

Most funding programs require applicant and partner organisations to fill in a number of legal documents, giving information about the legal form and the financial identification, for example. The exact number of documents required is specified in the calls and program guides and can be found on the European Commission websites.

The most common legal documents needed include:

  • Legal entity form – The legal entity form asks for information on the legal form and registration number of the applying organisation, for example. It can be accessed in all official languages of the European Union here.
  • Financial identification form – This document asks for banking details of the applicant organisation. It can be accessed in all official languages of the European Union here.
  • Declaration on honour – The declaration on honour requires the applicant organisation to commit to comply with the program rules and project.
  • Letters of mandate – For the case that partners are involved in the project, a letter of mandate has to be filled in which gives authorisation to the applicant organisation to hand in and coordinate the project.

Templates for all these documents are available and the relevant links are provided in the call or online application form. There, it is also stated which of these documents are needed for the specific funding program.

In addition to these information, organisations often have to provide a copy of their statutes and VAT certificates as well as a copy of their budget summaries of preceding years.

The ‘Project Cycle Management’ approach is the primary set of project design and management tools adopted by the European Commission. This approach was primarily developed for projects in the field of international development but can be adapted to the European context as well. The graphic below shows the different stages an organisation will go through when applying for EU funds.

Call / Application


Decision / Contract

Start of the project / Implementation





Read more:

The Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid has published a manual for project cycle management, which explains the different stages and what they require.

Intra-Community Programmes

External Cooperation Programmes

and Investment Funds


Europe for Citizens Programme (2014 – 2020)

Budget: EUR 186 million

Action grants have 2 strands:

  • Strand 1: European remembrance - the EU as a peace project
    The programme supports initiatives which reflect on the causes of the totalitarian regimes that blighted Europe's modern history, look at its other defining moments and reference points, and consider different historical perspectives.
    Project duration: maximum 18 months
    Grant amount: maximum €100 000

  • Strand 2: Democratic Engagement and Civic Participation
    Projects aiming at bringing citizens together, targeting the topics of the EfC programme. There are three project possibilities under Strand 2:
    • ‘Town Twinning Projects’ bring together citizens from twinned towns to debate issues from the European political agenda. They develop opportunities for societal engagement and volunteering at EU level.
      Project duration: maximum 21 days
      Grant amount: maximum €25 000 per project
    • ‘Networks of towns’ projects encourage towns to cooperate with other towns on a long‑term basis to explore particular topics or themes, share resources or interests, gain influence or face common challenges.
      Project duration: maximum 24 months per project & maximum 21 days per event
      Grant amount: between €10 000 & €150 000.
    • ‘Civil society projects’ give citizens an opportunity to participate concretely in the EU policy-making process. They stimulate debates to propose practical solutions through cooperation at European level.
      Project duration: maximum 18 months
      Grant amount: maximum €150 000

Operating grants:

The European Commission supports European public‑policy research organisations (think tanks) and civil society organisations with European outreach.


Objectives of the Programme:

  • Contribute to citizens' understanding of the EU, its history and diversity
  • Foster European citizenship and improve conditions for civic and democratic participation at EU level

The financed projects will:

  • Raise awareness of remembrance, the common history and values of the EU and the EU's aim - namely to promote peace, the values of the EU and the well-being of its peoples
  • Encourage the democratic and civic participation of citizens at EU level, by developing their understanding of the EU policy making-process, and stimulate interest and involvement in EU policy making

Legal Basis

Council Regulation (EU) No 390/2014 establishing the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme for the period 2014-2020


Programme funding is open to all actors promoting Europe, citizenship and integration, especially:

  • local and regional authorities
  • civil-society organisations in the fields of culture, youth and education
  • research institutions

The Programme is open to the 28 Member States of the European Union. The applicants and partners must be established in one of the countries participating to the Programme. At least one EU Member State must be involved.

The Programme is potentially open to acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates as well as the EFTA countries party to the EEA Agreement.

How to apply

The programme and the majority of action are centrally managed by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency of the Commission.

The funds of the Europe for Citizens programme are allocated through grant and public procurement contracts. The Commission publishes annual work programmes, which give further information on the objectives, the method of implementation, the amount of the financing plan, the co-financing rate, a description of actions supported and an indicative implementation timetable.

Access the Europe for Citizens" programme guide 2014-2020 in all EU languages. Calls for proposals will be published here.

For more information, contact the Europe for Citizens Point in your country. These contact points ensure the dissemination of information on the programme and its implementation, activities and funding opportunities at a national level.


Erasmus+ (2014 – 2020)

Budget: EUR 14.7 billion

3 Key Actions:

  1. Learning Mobility of individuals
  2. Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices good practices
  3. Support for policy reform Jean Monnet Initiative



  • To support young people gain more and better skills by studying & training abroad
  • To enhance teaching quality in the EU and beyond
  • To support Member States and partner countries in modernising their education and vocational training systems
  • To promote youth participation in society
  • To support teaching, research on European integration and European grass-roots sport

Legal Basis

Regulation (EU) establishing 'Erasmus+': the Union programme for education, training, youth and sport.


  • Erasmus+ is open to all EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, EU candidate countries benefiting from a pre-accession strategy and other countries in the Western Balkans. Switzerland*.
  • In addition, non-EU, mostly neighbourhood countries, will be able to benefit from actions aimed at promoting study and training opportunities abroad, as well as youth activities.
  • Any public and private body active in the areas of education, training, youth and grassroots sport may apply within this Programme.

How to apply

In Erasmus + applications can be made centrally/regionally (EC) and decentrally/nationally. For central calls for proposals go here.

To find your national agency, click here.

To learn about this programme in more detail, please read the Eurodiaconia briefing here.

Project example


Diaconia Valdese (Waldensian Diaconia) “EUROPE 4 ALL?” (2014-2015)

Diaconia Valdese ran this project through an Erasmus+ grant of 98.359 Euros for European Voluntary Service (EVS) activities, training for youth workers and youth exchange.

In view of the recent enlargements of the European Union, the project “EUROPE 4 ALL?” wanted to explore the options for the EU to be an active actor in social change in and out its borders in order to ensure social inclusion, effective citizenship of marginalized groups, youth employment, and the building of a multicultural and peaceful society in an innovative way.

The specific objectives of the project were:

  • To share and develop new working tools for project development and non-formal learning with youth on the following themes: European citizenship, intercultural / interreligious dialogue & conflict management, and social inclusion;
  • To offer networking and new international partnership opportunities, which will be able to involve program and partner countries by sharing challenges, questions and contributions, together with organizations based in Ukraine and Israel, with the aim of developing new projects within Erasmus +;
  • To increase young participants’ transversal and technical skills and competences, and to promote the recognition of these competences, both at national and European level;
  • To promote the meeting between participants of long and short term mobility (Youth Exchanges and EVS) within Erasmus + through communication opportunities and the sharing of common knowledge.

5 interconnected activities were included in “EUROPE FOR ALL?”:

  • 3 EVS activities: 5 young people from program countries to Italy; 1 young volunteer from a partner country (Ukraine) to Italy; 4 Italian young people to two partner countries (Ukraine and Israel)
  • 1 training and networking activity: 16 youth workers from all partners (8 countries) who will meet in Italy.
  • 1 youth exchange activity: 28 young people from 4 countries who will meet in Italy.

Through this project Diaconia Valdese set-up multimedia (web-blog) and printed (notebook) “Youth Working Tool”, collecting experiences, methods and materials, which will be useful for also for the future work with young people on the following themes: inclusion; transversal and technical competences and skills; multicultural coexistence. Young participants had the opportunity to increase their skills and competences for their employability, both at national and international level, also through the participation in other opportunities within Erasmus +.

The project gave the youth workers the opportunity to establish and to strengthen new transnational partnerships, and to increase the competences which can be used in their daily work.

* Switzerland will not participate in Erasmus+ on an equal footing with Member States (i.e. as a "Programme Country"), but will rather enjoy the same status as other third countries (i.e. as a "Partner Country").


EaSi (2014 – 2020)

Budget: EUR 919 million

3 Axes:

  1. EaSi-PROGRESS for modernisation of employment and social policies
  2. EaSi-EURES for labour mobility
  3. EaSi Microfinance for access to micro-finance and social entrepreneurship


Funding Priorities EaSi PROGRESS:

  • Develop and disseminate comparative analytical knowledge and provide evidence’s on Union’s policies
  • Improve information-sharing, learning and dialogue
  • Test social and labour market policy innovation and build capacity to design and implement social policy innovation
  • Increase the capacity of Union and national organisations to develop, promote and implement Union policies and law

Legal Basis

Regulation (EU) No 1296/2013 on a European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation ("EaSI") and amending Decision No 283/2010/EU establishing a European Progress Microfinance Facility for employment and social inclusion.


  • Easi is open to all EU countries, EEA countries, in accordance with the EEA Agreement, and EFTA countries;
  • EU candidate countries and potential candidate countries, in line with the framework agreements concluded with them on their participation in the Programmes

The PROGRESS axis of EaSI is open to all public and/or private bodies, actors and institutions, and in particular:

  • national, regional and local authorities, employment services, specialist bodies provided for under Union law,
  • the social partners, non-governmental organisations,
  • higher education institutions and research institutes, experts in evaluation and in impact assessment, national statistical offices; the media

How to apply

PROGRESS is managed by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment and Social affairs, which allocates the funds directly to beneficiaries in the form of call for proposals and call for tenders.

Calls for proposals are available here.

For a more detailed overview of the EaSi programme you can consult the Eurodiacia briefing here.

Project example

Housing First (PROGRESS) implemented by Helsinki Deaconess Institute


The Housing First approach focuses immediately and primary on helping individuals and families to quickly access and sustain permanent housing and then to provide services to the users as needed. The Housing First model was piloted, amongst other organisations, by Helsinki Deaconess Institute in Finland.

In Helsinki the Aurora House provides housing for 125 persons who have very different backgrounds and have repeatedly lost their homes. They already have experience on supported housing, but they have lost it due to substance dependence or abuse, mental illness and somatic diseases. Most of them do not possess skills of sustaining a home.

The idea is to support tenants so that those who need a strong support by the community, will receive it. Those who want to stay separately, have an opportunity to do so. Residents sign a tenancy at will, which means that there are no trial periods, no fixed tenancies and no evictions.

The personnel are available 24/7 in the same building. Services are provided according to their individual needs and abilities that are subject to change over time.


Horizon 2020 (2014 – 2020)

Budget: EUR 80 billion

3 main pillars:

  1. Excellent science
  2. Industrial Leadership
  3. Societal Challenges

2 horizontal programmes:

  1. Spreading excellence and widening participation
  2. Science with and for society

Programme thematic lines within Societal Challenges relevant for members:

  • Health, demographic change and well-being (€7 472 million)
  • Europe in a changing world - Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies (€1 309 million)


Primary aim:

  • Strengthen the EU's position as a world leader in science,
  • help make Europe a more attractive location to invest in research and innovation
  • bring excellent research results to market which will deliver direct benefits to citizens

Aim of “Societal challenges” programme

  • tackle the major issues affecting the lives of European citizens
  • increase the effectiveness of research and innovation in responding to key societal challenges by supporting excellent research and innovation activities

Legal Basis

Regulation (EU) No 1290/2013 laying down the rules for participation and dissemination in Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)

Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013 establishing Horizon 2020


  • All EU Member States
  • acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates
  • selected third countries that fulfil all of the following criteria:
    1. have a good capacity in science, technology and innovation;
    2. have a good track record of participation in Union research and innovation programmes;
    3. have close economic and geographical links to the Union

In particular:

  • Public sector bodies (including local and regional administrations)
  • Public and private institutions
  • Universities and research Institutes or research organisations
  • Enterprises and SMEs, including social enterprises
  • NGOs, civil society organisations, stakeholders/end-users organisations in all sectors
  • Independent researchers, including starting researchers, from any country in the world

How to apply

This fund is directly managed by the European Commission. The Commission adopts work programmes for the implementation of the different sections of the Framework Programme, which outline in further detail the funding objectives and supported types of actions. The funds are mostly allocated through project grants for duration of usually 3 years.

Work programmes of the different sections can be found here.

Calls for proposals can be accessed here.

Click here to read the Commission Regulation on Horizon 2020.

Eurodiaconia published a briefing on Horizon 2020 which can be accessed here.

Project example

Diakonhjemmet were part of the Consortium of Innoserv (Horizon 2020)

INNOSERV is a multi-phase project, a communication tool, a platform, a global public sphere and a network. Its main goal is to identify the potential of innovative social services in the fields of health, welfare and education. To achieve this goal, innovative and low-threshold communication means were used, such as films, podcasts, and visual sociology, to reach out to a wide audience of scholars, practitioners, policy makers and service users.

The platform has taken a bottom up approach, collecting the views of stakeholders about innovations in social services in various European countries. This was accomplished through visualizations of twenty innovative examples presented to users, practitioners, policy makers and experts in the field in the INNOSERV partner countries and beyond.


Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (2014 – 2020)

Budget: EUR 3.1 billion

3 programs that used to exist separately and now all function under AMIF:

  • European Refugee Fund (ERF)
  • European Integration Fund (EIF)
  • Return Fund (EF)


Primary aim:

Create an effective management of migration flows into and out of the European Union


  1. Strengthen the Common European Asylum System (CEAS)
  2. Support legal migration and integration
  3. Promote return strategies (for irregular/illegal migrants back to their home countries)
  4. Increase solidarity and responsibility sharing among Member States

Legal Basis:

Regulation (EU) No 516/2014 establishing the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.


Implemented through the following means:

  • National programmes;
  • Union actions;
  • Emergency assistance;
  • European Migration Network;
  • Technical assistance

In particular:

  • National, regional and local authorities
  • Public bodies
  • NGOs
  • Bodies and entities, which are profit-oriented, only have access to the Programme in conjunction with non-profit or public organisations
  • Third-country nationals or stateless people are eligible if fulfilling specific asylum or immigration conditions. The actions will support family members of persons referred to above, where appropriate, and in so far as the same conditions apply.

How to apply

The largest share of the total amount of the AMIF (almost 90%) will be channelled through shared management. EU States will implement their multiannual National Programmes, covering the whole period 2014-20. These programmes are prepared, implemented, monitored and evaluated by the responsible authorities in Member States, in partnership with the relevant stakeholders in the field, including civil society.

The remaining 10% will be managed under direct management (including emergency assistance) at the initiative of the Commission, in which Union Actions will be implemented in the framework of annual work programmes.

There will be a number of calls for proposals under each of the goals that members can apply for. Calls for proposals can be accessed here.

To learn about this programme in more detail, please read the Eurodiaconia briefing here.

Project example

Refugee Integration Program implemented by Reformed Mission Centre of Hungarian Reformed Church

This project for refugees in Budapest has been funded by the European Refugee Fund and the Hungarian Government.

Asylum Migration Fund

It assists refugees with accessing housing, education and employment. The housing project provides families with a full rent subsidy for one year and an incrementally decreasing subsidy for an additional six months. This enables the family to leave the refugee centre and to begin a life within the Hungarian community. During their participation in the programme, social workers assist the family with locating employment and weaving through the maze of Hungarian bureaucracy. The school programme helps young refugees to access Hungarian schools and provides Hungarian as a foreign language teachers and special educators, who as external school staff members, instruct and tutor the students, equipping them to fully participate in class activities as soon as possible. Young people can receive housing assistance in dormitories if necessary, school supplies, books and anything else to help them succeed in their education. In addition to this, the Reformed Mission Centre offers social work support, counselling, fellowship through social activities and familiarization with the culture and history of Hungary.


Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014 – 2020)

Budget: EUR 439,47 million

4 programmes that used to exist separately and now all function under this fund:

  • Daphne III Programme
  • Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme
  • Progress Programme (gender equality, nondiscrimination strands)
  • Drugs Prevention and Information Programme

Types of actions funded

  • Training activities (staff exchanges, workshops, development of training modules)
  • Mutual learning, cooperation activities, exchange of good practices, peer reviews, development of ICT tools…
  • Awareness-raising activities, dissemination, conferences
  • Support for NGOs engaged in the implementation of actions with a European added value, support for European-level networks and harmonised services of social value, and support for Member States in implementing European instruments and policies
  • Analytical activities (studies, data collection, development of common methodologies, indicators, surveys, preparation of guides…)


Objectives of the Programme:

  • Contribute to the further development of an area where equality and the rights of persons, as enshrined in the Treaty, the Charter and international human rights conventions, are promoted and protected

Specific Objectives

  • Promote non–discrimination
  • Combat racism, xenophobia, homophobia and other forms of intolerance
  • Promote rights of persons with disabilities
  • Promote equality between women and men and gender mainstreaming
  • Prevent violence against children, young people, women and other groups at risk (Daphne)
  • Promote the rights of the child
  • Ensure the highest level of data protection
  • Promote the rights deriving from Union citizenship
  • Enforce consumer rights

Legal Basis:

Regulation (EU) No 1381/2013 establishing a Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme for the period 2014 to 2020


Access to the Programme shall be open to all public and/or private bodies and entities legally established in:

  • Member States;
  • EFTA countries which are party to the EEA Agreement, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the EEA Agreement;
  • Accession countries, candidate countries and potential candidates, in accordance with the general principles and the general terms and conditions laid down in the framework agreements concluded with them on their participation in Union programmes.
  • Public and/or private bodies and entities legally established in other third countries, notably countries where the European Neighbourhood Policy applies, may be associated to actions of the Programme, if this serves the purpose of these actions.

In particular:

  • Public bodies
  • NGOs and civil society
  • Bodies and entities, which are profit-oriented, only have access to the Programme in conjunction with non-profit or public organisations
  • Further specification on the eligibility of actors is given in the respective call for proposals and tenders

How to apply

The Programme is managed directly by the European Commission, who publishes annual work plans with specific information on funding activities, amounts to be allocated, measures to be financed and indicative implementation timetables. Calls for proposals for action grants or operating grants will be published on the website of the Directorate General for Justice of the European Commission here.

Project example

Our member Evanjelicka diakonia ECAV in Slovakia received funding under Daphne for the project „ESCAPE“

ESCAPE - European Street Children Anti-Violence Programme and Exchange

It addressed street and peer violence that occurs amongst children and adolescents with migration or ethnic minority background who are living and/or working on streets both in western and in eastern European countries. Since the topic is wide and complex, the project makes use of the materials that are already available, stemming from previous projects and researches conducted both at the local and at the European level. In particular, it represented the continuation of the “Anti Violence Project – protecting street children from violence in urban areas in European capitals: implementation of a sustainable methodology” (AVP) that came to an end in July 2010. The ESCAPE project extended the results achieved in the AVP in order to develop street/peer violence prevention and contrast strategies specifically addressed to street children/adolescents with migration background/belonging to ethnic minorities. Such strategies were shared among partners from Eastern and Western Europe, in order to create a transnational platform able to promote effective actions against street and peer violence and harmful lifestyles.

The project focused mainly on:

  • exchanging of knowledge of intervention models to prevent and contrast street violence and peer violence in street, fostering a transnational platform for a strict cooperation between estearn and westaern european country pratictioners who work in the field of minors (in particular with vulnerable groups, minors with migration background/belonging to ethnic minorities
  • modelling and developing of effective educative prevention programmes aimed to prevent street violence and peer violence and also risk behavior related to drug/alchol abuse or weapons carrying.


European Neighbourhood Instrument (2014 – 2020)

Budget: EUR 15.4 billion


  1. bilateral programmes covering support to one partner country
  2. multi-country programmes which address challenges common to all or a number of partner countries, and regional and sub-regional cooperation between two or more partner countries, and which may include cooperation with the Russian Federation
  3. Cross-Border Cooperation programmes


Primary aim:

Strengthening the prosperity, stability and security of Europe's neighbourhood in order to avoid any dividing lines between the enlarged EU and its direct neighbours


  1. To promote prosperity in the EU by supporting neighbouring countries’ economic reform processes;
  2. To increase freedom and democracy in the EU by deepening political cooperation with neighbour countries on the basis of shared values and common interests;
  3. To encourage security and stability in the EU by working with neighbouring countries to address environmental and counter-terrorism issues in line with the European Security Strategy.

Legal Basis:

Regulation (EU) No 232/2014 establishing a European Neighbourhood Instrument.



  • main source of funding for the 16 partner countries (plus Russia): Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, the Republic of Moldova, Morocco, the occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine, Russia for the multi-country programmes

In particular:

  • Local and Regional authorities
  • Federations Unions
  • Administrations States
  • Development NGOs
  • SMEs, Universities, NGOs, International Organisation

How to apply

Calls for proposals are launched from the European Commission in Brussels or locally by Delegations. Therefore, members are advised to check also the website of their local EU Delegation.

Centrally managed grants from the European Commission can be found on the website of the Directorate General for Development and Cooperation here.


Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (2014 – 2020)

Budget: EUR 11.7 billion

Country Strategy Papers provide the frame for financial assistance for each individual IPA II beneficiary. Priorities outlined in the Strategy Papers are translated into detailed actions, which are included in annual or multi-annual Action Programmes.


Primary aim:

Designed to create a single framework and to unite under the same instrument both Candidate and Potential Candidate Countries, thus, facilitating the transfer from one status to another. Ease political and economic reform in the beneficiary countries and prepare them for the rights and obligations that come with EU membership.


  • Strengthening democratic institutions
  • Promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and enhanced respect for minority rights
  • Development of civil society
  • Regional and cross-border cooperation

Legal Basis:

Regulation (EU) No 231/2014 establishing an Instrument of Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA II).


Supported activities:

  1. the transition process towards Union membership and capacity building;
  2. regional development;
  3. employment, social policies and human resources development;
  4. agriculture and rural development;
  5. regional and territorial cooperation


  • the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Turkey
Potential candidate countries
  • Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo (Under UNSCR 1244/1999)
  • Local and Regional authorities, Administrations States, International Organisations
  • Organisations that can benefit from IPA II include public bodies, corporations and some private sector organisations (especially small businesses), universities and schools, training and research centres, local and regional authorities, associations, NGOs and voluntary organisations. Partnerships created during the implementation of the project must include civil society organisations.

How to apply

IPA II funded activities are implemented and managed under:

  • direct management; i.e. the implementation of the budget is carried out directly by the Commission until the relevant national authorities are accredited to manage the funds.
  • indirect management; i.e. budget implementation tasks are delegated to and carried out by entities entrusted by the Commission
  • Shared management; i.e. implementation tasks are delegated to EU member states (only for cross–border cooperation programmes with EU countries)

The Commission delegates the management of certain actions to external entities, while still retaining overall final responsibility for the general budget execution. Find here a list of IPA coordinators.

Calls for proposals that are managed by EU Delegations can be found on the respective website. Please consult the local Delegation website of your country for more information.

Calls for proposals managed by the European Commission directly can be accessed here.


European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)

European Social Fund
(2014 – 2020)

Budget: more than EUR 80 billion


Primary aim:

Supporting jobs, helping people get better jobs and ensuring fairer job opportunities for all EU citizens.

Thematic objectives:

  • promoting employment and supporting labour mobility;
  • promoting social inclusion and combating poverty
  • investing in education, skills and lifelong learning
  • enhancing institutional capacity and an efficient public administration

Within thematic objectives are 18 specific investment priorities, e.g. implementing the Youth Guarantee

Legal Basis:

Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 on the European Social Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006


Administration of the ESF follows the principle of shared management and the ESF is based on the principle of co-financing to ensure ownership at national and regional level. Therefore, ESF funding is always accompanied by public or private financing.


Within EU Member States:

  • NGOs and charities
  • Public administrations and municipal institutions
  • Companies and associations

The eligibility criteria are further specified in the calls for proposals.

How to apply

National or regional ESF websites where calls for proposals can be found are listed on the contact page of the Commission website for the ESF here.

If no website is listed, contact emails for the governmental department or persons responsible in the managing authority are listed, and they can advise organisations where they can find information about calls for proposals.

Useful links and publications

To learn about this programme in more detail, please read the Eurodiaconia briefing here.

To learn more about feedback on the application and implementation processes and to access a collection of ESF-funded projects, please find the Eurodiaconia mapping here.

To access the official European Commission website on the ESF, see here.

Information on the Operational Programs of the ESF per country can be found here.

Managing Authorities

ESF Budget by Country: 2014-2020

Project example

European Social Fund - Helsinki Deaconess Institute, Finland

The Helsinki Deaconess Institute ran different projects under the European Social Fund, one of them was ‘Vamos Lahti’. The project fell under the Priority Axe 5 of ‘Social Inclusion and Combatting Poverty’ and ran for a two-year term from 2016 to 2017. Regionally, it was positioned in Southern Finland and managed by the Häme Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment.

Vamos Lahti was a joint venture project of the Helsinki Deaconess Institute, the City of Lahti Adult Social Services and the Lahti Diaconia Institute. The project developed a social rehabilitation process in the City of Lahti for youth from 25 to 29 years who experienced a difficult situation in accessing the labor market. Social rehabilitation was used to enable people who have become severely socially excluded to participate again in society by strengthening bases of their social functional capacity and social interaction.

The project activities improved the social involvement of the youth and integrated volunteer work into a social services and NGO-shared service platform. The main activities under the project included coaching and group coaching:

  • The coaching examined the participants’ own strengths and objectives and was designed in cooperation with employers and trainers to support young people in developing necessary skills for education, employment or training possibilities.
  • The group coaching was intended for young people who want to improve their well-being and follow-up paths. The training content was determined based on the needs of the group and included study visits, discovery of strengths and team building.

The project resulted in 300 young people being included in project activities, with 180 having been able to enter into paid labour, education or work trials already. The youth participation has strengthened and they have gained useful experiences through volunteer work and peer support. The operational model of social rehabilitation and the methods of outreach social work have been developed in cooperation with the City of Lahti Adult Social Services. A quality multi professional service platform has been developed for the targeted group in cooperation with the municipality services and NGOs. In addition, the City of Lahti has introduced new participatory and empowering activities which support youth well-being and access to work and education. The material of “The Case Lahti – Experiences of Outreach Social Work” has been produced and it supports the implementation of the outreach social work concept in municipalities regionally and nationally.

In general, the project contributed to an increase in work ability and performance of the participants, and in decreasing costs for the municipality due to decreasing needs for labour market support and long-term unemployment support.


European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)

European Regional Development Fund (2014 – 2020)

Budget: EUR 196,5 billion

Scope of support:

  • productive investment
  • investment in infrastructure providing basic services to citizens in the areas of energy, environment, transport and ICT;
  • investment in social, health, research, innovation, business and educational infrastructure;
  • investment in the development of endogenous potential through fixed investment in equipment and small-scale infrastructure
  • networking, cooperation and exchange of experience between competent regional, local, urban and other public authorities, economic and social partners and relevant bodies representing civil society


Primary aim:

Strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions.

Investment priorities:

  • Innovation and research
  • Digital agenda
  • Support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Low-carbon economy

ERDF resources allocated to investment priorities will depend on the category of region.

Legal Basis:

Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 on the European Regional development Fund and on specific provisions concerning the Investment for growth and jobs goal and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006


Within EU Member States:

  • local, regional and national authorities and administrative bodies
  • social, cultural and educational institutions, NGOs
  • companies, SMEs including micro-enterprises and Social Economy Enterprises and associations

ERDF resources allocated to investment priorities will depend on the category of your region. To check if your region falls under the category (1) Less Developed Regions, (2) Transition Regions or (3) More Developed Regions click here.

How to apply

ERDF is implemented at a national level by a managing authority. Calls for proposals and tenders are published in the national language and potential applicants should contact the managing authority in his/her country for more information.

To find your managing authority, click here.

Useful links and publications

To find your managing authority, click here.

To find out how much money is allocated to the different categories of regions in your country per year, see here.

To access the official European Commission website on the European Regional Development Fund, please click here.

Information on the Operational Programs of the ERDF per country can be found here.

Thematic objectives for the ERDF

Reports, Studies and Evaluations of projects

Project example

ERDF - Salvation Army, Czech Republic

Over four years Salvation Army Czech Republic managed 18 different ERDF projects.

The most recent project aimed at the construction of a hostel for homeless men. In order to support the application process the organisation contracted an external company who dealt with developing the project proposal and other administrative tasks for the management of the project, so they could focus on the content of the project.


European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF)

Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) (2014 – 2020)

Budget: €3.8 billion
To this will be added co-funding from Member States at national level amounting to at least 15%. NGOs will not need to bring co-funding.

The fund is split in two operational programmes:

  • OP 1 for food and/or basic material assistance
  • OP 2 for social inclusion


Member States will be able to use the programme for:

  1. food aid and to fight material deprivation or/and
  2. social inclusion measures.

The fund will support national schemes implemented at national, regional or local level by public bodies or non-for-profit organisations to either:

  • distribute food and/or material assistance to the most deprived persons
  • provide accompanying measures of social inclusion to OP I
    run activities contributing to the social inclusion of the most deprived persons

Legal Basis:

Regulation No 223/2014 on the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived


Member States participate voluntarily in the programme.

Every EU Member State will be able to access the fund, but amounts will vary very significantly from country to country.

To find out how much funding has been allocated to your country, please consult ANNEX I of the Eurodiaconia briefing on the FEAD.

Partner organisations will be public bodies or non-governmental organisations selected by Member States on the basis of objective and transparent criteria defined by the respective Member States.

In particular:

  • Public bodies
  • NGOs and charities
  • Welfare organisation

How to apply

Member States can submit one or two operational programmes (OPs). They should do so within 6 month of the entry into force of the regulation, i.e. before 11th September 2014. Through their OP, Member States will be able to choose according to their own situation the type of assistance they wish to provide (food or basic goods or a combination of both), and their preferred model for procuring and distributing the food and goods.

If members are interested by the opportunities brought in by the programme, they can contact the managing authority or national government department in charge of the programme. The national Managing authorities should have issued their Operational Programme by September 2014.

Useful links and publications

To learn about this programme in more detail, please read the Eurodiaconia briefing here.

To learn more about Eurodiaconia member feedback on the application and implementation processes of the FEAD program, see the Eurodiaconia report here.

To learn more about the program in general, check out the official European Commission website on FEAD here.

More information on activities of FEAD per country can be found here.

Project example

FEAD – Kirkens Koshaer

Kirkens Koshaer received FEAD funding for a new project that will be launched in October 2016. The project takes place in a context of constant increase in the number of homeless migrants which consist of both EU and non- EU migrants. It aims at providing information on what their rights are on the one hand and providing basic help such showers and lockers on the other hand.

This project merges three existing services for homeless migrants, including two day shelters and one information service. The idea behind the merger is to facilitate the outreach as the information services being separated from the shelters made it hard for information to be accessible. The project will keep the name of the current information service "Kompasset" (as a "compass") to help people find their way in Denmark.

It will be funded through the FEAD for three years. More information on the implementation of the project will follow once available. For more details on the activities of the information center, please see here.


European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI)

Budget: €21 billion

The EFSI is a EUR 16 billion guarantee from the EU budget, complemented by a EUR 5 billion allocation of the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) own capital.

The EFSI is an initiative launched jointly by the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund, and the European Commission to help overcome investment gaps in the EU by mobilising private financing for strategic investments.

The EFSI consists of two programme “windows”:

  1. SME window (for small and medium enterprises)
  2. Infrastructure & Innovation window

At the moment EFSI funds will be used to strengthen already existing financial instruments provided by the EIB and the European Investment Fund (EIF): usually such instruments function through local financial intermediaries (banks, investment funds, microcredit institutions, etc.), and are often not targeting social enterprises. Therefore social enterprises in most cases will have to get in touch with such intermediaries in order to benefit from the EU funding and not directly with the EIF and the EIB, and will have to meet the eligibility criteria, which are often not tailored for social service providers. Promising intermediaries for social enterprises can be ethical banks like e.g. Triodos Bank (international), Banca Etica (Italy, Spain) etc.


Objectives of the Programme:

EFSI is designed to support high-risk investments in several specific sectors: energy, transport, healthcare and social infrastructure, social and solidarity economy.

How do EFSI financed projects look like?

EFSI is demand driven and will provide support for projects everywhere in the EU, including cross-border projects. There are no geographic or sector quotas. Projects will be considered based on their individual merits.

The criteria used to select the projects to be funded comprise high societal and economic value contributing to EU policy objectives and projects must attract private capital by addressing market failures.

Social service providers can use two platforms for getting assistance and feedback on how to set up their projects properly: The European Investment Advisory Hub and the European investment project portal. They can access a European-wide database in order to gain information about the likelihood of success their projects can have, based on previous experiences published online.

Legal Basis:

Regulation (EU) 2015/1017


  • Entities of all sizes, including utilities, special purpose vehicles or project companies, small and medium-sized enterprises (with up to 250 employees) and midcaps (with up to 3 000 employees)
  • Public sector entities
  • National promotional banks or other banks to deliver intermediated lending
  • Funds and any other form of collective investment vehicles
  • Bespoke investment platforms

How to apply

Coming soon

Overview Foundations

Foundations can be defined as asset-based and purpose driven. They have no members or shareholders and are separately constituted non-profit bodies who focus on a variety of issues, such as social services, research or culture. They have an established and reliable income source, which allows them to plan and carry out work over a longer period of time than many other institutions.

There are several reasons why foundations are being set up. These can be of philanthropic nature, relate to corporate social responsibility or be legal or tax related. The different types of foundations are[1]:

  • Foundations with an institutional set up with a number of trustees tend to make grants according to detailed procedures, have established criteria and guidelines on which to base their decision-making and employ professional staff.
  • Foundations can be set up privately by a single individual who takes most of the grant-making decisions alone or after discussion with a spouse.
  • Family foundations are often set up by one individual, often in memory of an earlier family members, with trustees who are related or at least closely connected to each other. Decisions tend to be taken collectively but informally.
  • Corporate foundations have an income that depends upon the profit of a company or a group of companies. Decisions tend to be made by committees and ratified by directors of the company.
  • Community foundation are charitable trusts that support local community causes.

Research is key when approaching foundations. Before you start building a relationship with a foundation it is important to know what their aims and topics of interest are and what other organisations have been funded by that particular foundation in the past. While you can directly contact the foundation with your request for funding we suggest that you invest into building a relationship first. This can be done by:

  • Inviting representatives of the foundations to events or conferences you organise that could be interesting for them
  • Networking
  • Sharing practical examples with them
  • Send information about your organisation and projects

Whether answering to a call for proposals or applying directly for financial support for one of your projects, make sure that your project proposal fits the focus, interest and priority of the foundation. When answering to a call it is imperative to read the guidelines thoroughly. Application forms should be completed as fully as possible.

There are a few tips to consider when applying for foundation funds:

  • Double check whether you meet the funder’s eligibility criteria
  • If the funder offers help or advice before an application, take that opportunity!
  • When sending in a project proposal where no application form is used – include your latest annual report and accounts
  • Application letters shouldn’t be longer than four sides of A4
  • Use straightforward language and concepts – avoid jargon!
  • Be realistic when calculating your budget and make sure it reflects the planned activities
  • Make sure your project matches the core values of the foundation you are targeting
  • Make sure your project is sustainable and show your plan for the future

[1] Adrian Sargeant and Elaine Jay: Fundraising Management: Analysis, Planning and Practice (2nd edition)

Foundations of potential relevance for diaconal organisations

These are just a few examples of foundations that could be relevant for members. When considering foundations as a source of funding the most important factor to consider is that the aim of the project matches the aim of the foundation.

Otto per Mille Fund by the Waldensian Church

The Otto per Mille fund of the Waldensian and Methodist churches supports social and cultural projects all over the world. The Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches is one of the beneficiaries of the “Eight per Thousand” or 0,8% contribution by Italian taxpayers.

Additional information: Otto per mille

Carpathian Foundation

Carpathian Foundation Network is a network of five independent foundations serving the Carpathian Euroregion. The Euroregion consists of these highlighted border regions in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary and Romania. Carpathian Foundations support development of their diverse and multi - ethnic communities, encourage local partnerships, and assist grassroots not - for - profit organizations and local governments.

Additional information: Carpathian Foundation

ERSTE Foundation

The ERSTE Foundation offers grants for innovative projects that complement the Foundation’s goal of strengthening civil society in one or more countries in Central and South-Eastern Europe. They work in three main policy areas: Social Development, Culture, and Europe. Priority is given to projects dealing with current and future societal challenges, projects with potential cross-border implications, ideas fostering awareness of other cultures, initiatives supporting the sustainable development of civil society in the target countries, and projects supporting the future-oriented visions of young talents in local and global contexts.

Additional information: ERSTE Foundation

International Visegrad Fund

The International Visegrad Fund is an international organization based in Bratislava, founded by the governments of the countries of the Visegrad Group (V4) — the Czech Republic, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Poland, and the Slovak Republic—on June 9, 2000.

The purpose of the Fund is to facilitate and promote the development of closer cooperation among V4 countries (and of V4 countries with other countries, especially but not exclusively non-EU member states in Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and the South Caucasus) through the support of common cultural, scientific and educational projects, youth exchanges, cross-border projects and tourism promotion.

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), municipalities and local or regional governments, schools and universities, but also private companies and individual citizens from the Visegrad Group countries (and other countries) are eligible for the Fund's support.

Additional information: International Visegrad Fund

Fondation de France

The Fondation de France was established in 1969 to encourage the growth of all forms of private philanthropy. The Fondation de France sets up action programs in many fields: solidarity, the elderly or disabled, and for the benefit of children. Its areas of action also cover health, medical and scientific research, culture and the environment.

The Fondation de France helps put in place or structure network systems, and promotes professionalism in the management of the voluntary sector in France and Europe.

Additional information: Fondation de France

King Baudouin Foundation

The King Baudouin Foundation is an independent public benefit foundation based in Brussels that supports projects all over the world.

The mission of the Foundation is to help to improve living conditions for the population. The foundation supports projects and citizens who are committed to create a better society and to make a contribution towards greater justice, democracy and respect for diversity. The working areas of the foundation are: poverty and social justice, democracy in Belgium, democracy in the Balkans, heritage, philanthropy, health, leadership, local engagement, migration and development.

Additional information: King Baudouin Foundation


Our member Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) received funding in the past from the Velux Foundation and shared their experience with Eurodiaconia members at a seminar on fundraising.

The Velux Foundation approached Hungarian NGOs in 2005. Their main focus was on good practises, dissemination of information and advocacy towards decision makers in the area of disadvantaged youth and children in Central/Eastern Europe. As part of networks such as Eurodiaconia and Aprodev, HIA was known for being experienced and providing quality services.

During the project implementation HIA perceived the Velux Foundation to be a flexible donor. While there was a focus on setting up proper project management and administration systems before the implementation, there was a focus on providing quality services during the implementation phase.

1. The Andersen Job Training Programme (600,000 EUR)

Thanks to the grant provided by the Velux Foundation, HIA was able to provide job training and tailor-made employment assistance for 450 persons in three years. 22 companies and public employers were involved and 70% of vulnerable young people receiving the training were able to find employment afterwards.

2. You are not alone Programme (750,000 EUR)

This project was focussing on reintegration of vulnerable families into the society. 4,873 individuals were involved in program services, 711 persons were provided with temporary accommodation, 1,482 individuals received material assistance and 80% of the problems of individuals involved in crisis intervention have been settled successfully.

3. TANDEM Programme (ongoing)

This programme aims at the social integration of marginalized and vulnerable children and their families as well as strengthening local actors engaged in social work for vulnerable children and their families. It is also aiming at improving the institutional sustainability of HIA.

As a result of the cooperation with the Velux Foundation, HIA introduced new methods for measuring social work and benefitted from ongoing capacity building for the organisation’s staff. HIA was also able to implement more complex programmes covering more sectors of social work, instead of focussing only on one or two area.

HIA felt that the grant from Velux Foundation involved less bureaucracy than EU grants and there was much more flexibility. The challenge HIA faced was that there were no regular calls for proposals and the requirements were changing constantly. Therefore, it was difficult to follow and be up-to-date. Also, the monitoring requirements were quite high, which was helpful though for building the capacity of the implementing staff.

In the framework of a research project looking at how Eurodiaconia members finance their services, we have conducted a case study on how Hungarian Interchurch Aid have accessed funding from the Velux foundation. The case study looks at the example above in more detail and can be accessed here.

How can Eurodiaconia help?

Eurodiaconia can offer different options to support its members in applying for EU-calls or different funding sources. Most recent examples of how Eurodiaconia did intervene to help members and how it can potentially help in the future are listed below.

  • Facilitate partnerships for transnational project calls.

    Eurodiaconia as a network of social and health care providers from all over Europe can help members to find suitable partners for transnational project calls. Especially for EU-funded projects, partners from different countries are often a requirement or an added value in the eyes of the evaluators. In order to get an overview of Eurodiaconia members, please consult our webpage here. In case you want to get in contact with a specific member, you can use the contact information provided on the website or contact Eurodiaconia’s Policy, Projects and Research Officer Florian Tuder.

  • Act as a project partner for the dissemination of project results.

    When trying to receive funds for a project, donors often want to know how project results are disseminated and how widely they can be spread. Eurodiaconia with its vast network of local, national and European contacts has a great potential in disseminating project results and communicating them to not only its members, but also to stakeholders and decision-makers working on the European level, such as the European Parliament and European network organisations working on social policy. Eurodiaconia can, depending on availability, act as a project partner to strengthen the dissemination of project results beyond the local and national level.

  • Provide information on new proposals on the calls for project proposals website section.

    Eurodiaconia has a specific part on its website dedicated to informing members of relevant calls for project proposals from the European institutions and others, focusing on calls related to priority areas of Eurodiaconia members such as social inclusion, Roma integration, migrant and refugee projects as well as unemployment support. A short description of the call is provided together with a link to the website of the original call with more information on how and by when to apply. The resource can be accessed here.

  • Provide general information on funding matters in the funding newsletter.

    Eurodiaconia recently introduced a funding newsletter which is circulated among interested persons on a monthly basis. The newsletter presents information on different matters related to funding. It presents successful projects funded under EU-programs of Eurodiaconia members, summarizes feedback on the use of funds and provides links to the most recent calls for project proposals. In order to subscribe for the funding newsletter, please sign up here.

  • Organise funding workshops for members.

    Eurodiaconia is an organisation which is funded under EU- and other national programs and has considerable experience in applying and partnering for project calls. The knowledge of how an application process takes place and what needs to be taken care of can be valuable information for organisations who do not have extensive experience in applying for EU funding. In order to share this knowledge, Eurodiaconia can organize funding workshops for members. One has already taken place for Eurodiaconia members in Austria at the beginning of the year and was met with positive resonance. If you are interested in receiving information through a workshop or webinar organized by Eurodiaconia, get in touch with Florian Tuder.

  • Establish links to responsible EU-contacts working on funding.

    Eurodiaconia as a Brussels-based organisation which regularly works with stakeholders from the European institutions has the possibility to find and establish links to relevant EU-contacts for its members. Usually through study visits to Brussels which take place around two or three times a year for organisations from a specific organisation or country, members eventually get the chance to meet and speak to EU stakeholders working on funding by themselves, depending on availability of the contact persons.

  • Present EU-funded projects and feedback on application and implementation processes from Eurodiaconia member organisations to European stakeholders.

    Eurodiaconia regularly collects good practice examples and feedback on the implementation of different EU-funds, such as the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived (FEAD) from members. The results are presented in the e-news and in reports, and the feedback on the implementation processes are channeled to the responsible EU institutions, among others through participation in EU-led networks and through targeted advocacy. In 2015/2016, Eurodiaconia wrote two reports on the use of the ESF (see here) and the use of the FEAD (see here). These reports are forwarded to contacts within the European Commission and can therefore also be seen as a good opportunity to share feedback wit decision-makers and promote change on the setup of those funds.

In case you have questions about any of the possibilities, feel free to contact Florian Tuder.

Tips and tricks for writing funding applications

Applying for funding, especially for funding of major donors such as the European Union, often requires special knowledge and skills on how to properly fill in the application and the required legal documents. Eurodiaconia and several of its members have considerable experience in applying for funds from different sources and have shared their experience and tips in order to successfully fill in and implement different calls for proposals. Below, you will find detailed tips and tricks for writing funding applications for different programs.

Tips and tricks

Applying for funding is a lengthy and complicated process which requires specific skills and experience in order to be successful. These tips and tricks can help organisations to get started with writing funding proposals.

  1. Start with applying for funding with an easy programme and a manageable project.

    Funding programs allow for projects of different size and complexity, and have themselves easier application procedures for certain programs and projects with lesser budget. For the first funding application, it is thus favourable to start with a small project and a less complex program, such as Erasmus+.

  2. Do not be discouraged by the first funding application.

    The first funding proposal to write is the most complicated as you cannot build on any pre-knowledge and experience. So if it fails, do not be discouraged as a failed funding proposal usually receives feedback which can be used to improve the application for the next attempt.

  3. Plan ahead, especially in projects including partners.

    Writing project proposals and collecting all necessary documents is a lengthy process. Especially when the project involves partner organisations, the work load needs to be planned carefully as the applicant organisation has to anticipate delays in receiving the necessary information and documents. Partner organisations might have troubles adhering to short deadlines as all official documents have to be signed by the legal representative of the organisation and not the project manager. Furthermore, when having partners from different countries, the post way of the originally signed documents have to be planned into the time table.

  4. Ask the responsible Commission or national agency for advice.

    European Union programs are either coordinated by the responsible European Commission agencies or by national agencies on Member State level, or by a combination of both. When it is a nationally coordinated project, the national agencies responsible for handling the funding applications can be asked for advice. They usually have consultants who are available for meeting with civil society organisations and the time to answer questions and assess the potential of the funding proposal. For an EU-coordinated project, the contact details of the responsible funding managers should be available on the websites of the European Commission agencies. They can be addressed via mail to ask for help with urgent questions.

  5. Prepare documents.

    Most documents have templates available which require the applicant to fill in information about the project and organisation. As the templates are often lengthy and require a number of empty spots to be filled in throughout the document, it is good to highlight the respective spots so that the legal representative or partner organisation who has to sign the information off easily sees where what kind of information are required.

  6. Let an experienced person proofread the text of the proposal.

    Once a draft version of the funding proposal is ready it is often very helpful to let someone with experience and knowledge of project management to read through the entire text and give feedback on its coherence and persuasiveness. External observers usually spot inconsistencies and misunderstandings more easily than the authors of the text.

How to use the Eurodiaconia Toolkit on Funding for members:

The Eurodiaconia Toolkit on Funding is an interactive instrument for members to easily access the funding information they are looking for. The toolkit is focused on European funding instruments and foundations, but also includes more general information on funding.

On the home page you can find three petals which represent the three main categories of the toolkit. These categories have each three sub-categories that give users a quick overview of what information will await them after clicking on them.

The category BASICS OF FUNDRAISING looks at developing a fundraising strategy, the skills a fundraiser needs in order to be successful and what sources of funding are available to organisations.

The category EU FUNDING has a subcategory that gives an overview of EU funding and the technical terminology useful to know before looking into applying under a specific funding instrument. The overview on EU funding instruments summarises for you each funding programme relevant to members with most important information on the programme, the objectives, the eligibility criteria and how to apply for funds. Most programmes include an example of how one of our members has used the fund in the past. Finally, a step – to – step guide supports you in your project development process by summarising the most important steps to take.

The category FOUNDATIONS gives an introduction to how to approach foundations when seeking funding and gives an example of how one of our members has used foundation funding in the past. A list of relevant foundations includes a short summary of their priorities and a contact link.


Eurodiaconia has developed an interactive funding toolkit for members to support them in:

  1. developing a fundraising strategy
  2. learning about relevant EU funds and identifying the most suitable programmes
  3. accessing funding from foundations
  4. writing project proposals

As you navigate through the petals you will easily find the funding information that you are looking for.

You can also download the Funding Toolkit as a PDF.

In case of any questions, comments or suggestions, please contact Florian.