Advance information on application for project support open to Finnish civil society organisations for 2023–2026

In January 2022, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will open a call for proposals for project support available for Finnish civil society organisations (CSOs). The application period will be open from 24 January to 4 March 2022. During that time, applications can be submitted for discretionary government grants for development cooperation projects in 2023–2026. The actual call for applications together with the assessment criteria will be published when the call for applications opens on 24 January 2022. The support is granted from the development cooperation appropriations for Finnish CSOs’ development cooperation.

Project support for Finnish CSOs is part of the implementation of Finland’s development policy. Organisations engaged in development cooperation projects enhance the diversity and impact of Finland’s development cooperation in developing countries around the world through their own fields of expertise and practices. Project support is used to support diversity and plurality in civil societies. With project support, Finnish organisations and their partners strengthen the capacity of civil society actors in developing countries and support the civic space and an enabling environment for civil societies.

According to the Guidelines for Civil Society in Development Policy (2017), strengthening civil societies is both a development policy objective and a means of promoting Finland’s other development policy objectives and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda). Project support also promotes Finland’s foreign policy objectives, such as those relating to human rights.

The call for proposals for project support will be open from 24 January to 4 March 2022. When the application period opens, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will publish the actual call for applications, the final assessment criteria for the application round, and the application instructions together with the relevant forms on its website.

The applications for discretionary government grant will be assessed on the basis of the minimum requirements, qualitative criteria and an overall consideration specified in the call for applications. The preliminary criteria for the application round for project support in 2022 are presented below.

Preliminary criteria for the call for proposals for project support in 2022

Minimum requirements for the applicant:

a. A discretionary government grant can be awarded to an association or foundation registered in Finland which has been registered for at least two years by the date of the opening of the application process.

Minimum requirements for the project and the application:

b. The application contains all mandatory appendices (including mandatory assurance for the applicant, memorandum of understanding/letter(s) of intent with partners, and additional information on the project). The mandatory appendices will be specified in the call for applications.

c. The project promotes at least one of Finland’s four development policy priorities: strengthening the status and rights of women and girls; strengthening the economic base of developing countries and creating jobs; education, well-functioning societies and democracy; climate change and natural resources.

d. The application presents the required share of self-financing in accordance with the general conditions for the use of discretionary government grants and the additional conditions for project support.

e. The project is carried out in a developing country/developing countries, listed among ODA recipients by the OECD Development Assistance Committee DAC(layout.types.url.description).

f. The project has a local partner with whom the applicant has concluded a letter of intent for the implementation of the project.

g. The project strengthens the local civil society in accordance with the Guidelines for Civil Society in Development Policy (2017).

h. The project is at minimum human rights sensitive as defined in the Human Rights-Based Approach to Development Cooperation– Guidance note (2015).

i. In its application, the applicant has indicated its readiness to fulfil the do no harm principle, stated as the minimum level of the Foreign Ministry’s cross-cutting objectives (gender equality, non-discrimination, climate resilience, low-emission development).

The applications will be assessed against the following qualitative criteria:

1. The selection, participation and ownership of the beneficiaries – both rights holders and duty bearers – are clearly indicated. The project takes into account clearly and concretely the realisation of the rights of people in vulnerable positions, persons with disabilities and persons and groups subject to multiple discrimination.

2. The application clearly indicates the realistic change that the project aims to achieve. The project has a logical results chain and indicators that measure the achievement of project objectives. The application includes a plan, with means and schedule, for determining the baseline for project objectives. The project includes a clear and appropriate monitoring and evaluation plan. The project covers communications about the results both in Finland and in the target country.

3. The application explains the partner’s key role in the planning, implementation and monitoring of the project. The project is based on the objectives of the local partner and supports the partner’s strategy and advocacy work. Decision-making and other roles and responsibilities between the partner in the target country and the Finnish organisation are clearly indicated in the application.

4. The application includes a realistic and comprehensive analysis of the sustainability of the results and factors affecting it. The analysis must indicate both factors that support and factors that deteriorate the project’s sustainability as well as assumptions affecting its sustainability.

5. The applicant and/or its partners have special expertise in the project’s field of activity and operating environment. In the application, the applicant takes into account the special characteristics of the operating environment, including risks, and actors relevant to the objectives of the project in the operating environment.

6. The project’s risk analysis and risk management plan are comprehensive and realistic from the point of view of the project’s implementation. The application identifies the external and internal risks relevant to the project and recognises their likelihood and impact. The application indicates the roles and responsibilities of the applicant and the local partner and how risks are prevented and provisions are made for corrective measures. Risk management takes into account the Ministry’s Ethical Code of Conduct (including corruption and sexual harassment and abuse).

7. The project schedule, budget and human resources are realistic in terms of its objectives and implementation and the applicant’s capacity. The application includes the rationale for budget items, particularly as concerns personnel and/or expert costs. The cost structure clearly indicates the roles/responsibilities of the local partner.

Overall consideration

In addition to the above-mentioned minimum requirements and qualitative criteria, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will exercise its overall consideration in relation to the available appropriations and the implementation of the projects when assessing individual applications and projects for which grants are awarded. As a whole, attention will also be paid to the implementation of projects in countries classified by the OECD as the least developed countries (LDCs)(layout.types.url.description) and/or fragile states(layout.types.url.description).

In the overall consideration of individual applications, elements that are addressed include, on the one hand, the application’s coherence and, on the other hand, the relevance and added value that the proposed project for which funding is applied brings in relation to

  • the SDGs of the 2030 Agenda
  • implementation of the Paris Agreement
  • Finland’s development policy objectives
  • the Guidelines for Civil Society in Development Policy
  • the description of the project support instrument as well as the terms and conditions of project support and
  • other activities supported by Finland’s development cooperation appropriations and Finland’s Country Programmes. 

As part of the overall consideration, due attention will be paid to relevant stakeholder and multi-actor cooperation that brings added value to the objectives of the project in Finland and the partner/recipient country. This may mean, for example, cooperation with the private sector, other organisations, municipalities or educational institutions.

In its overall consideration, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs will also use its previous verifiable experiences and assessments on the applicant and the applicant’s previous use of government grants.