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UNDEF Project Grants

Grants to USA, Canada, and International Civil Societies,
NGOs, and Other Organizations to Promote Democracy

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF)

Deadline Date:



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Grants to USA, Canada, and International civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, independent and constitutional bodies, inter-governmental bodies, associations, and organizations for projects that promote and advance democracy around the world. Funding is intended for projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in the democratic process.

The large majority of UNDEF funds go to local civil society organizations, both in the transition and consolidation phases of democratization. Projects must fall under one or more of the following eight areas:

  • Community Activism
  • Electoral Processes
  • Gender Equality
  • Media and Freedom of Information
  • Rule of Law and Human Rights
  • Strengthening Civil Society Interaction with Government
  • Tools for Knowledge
  • Youth Engagement

In the current round, projects on media and freedom of information are particularly welcome. This covers a range of topics, such as promoting citizen journalism, including in conflict and post-conflict settings; training journalists in legal know-how as well as personal safety and security, both physical and online; building peer support networks for freelance journalists; developing investigative journalism skills; understanding and advancing legislation for access to information; combating hate speech; developing public media literacy, with a focus on learning to digest material critically and to evaluate sources -- both online and in other media.

All applications are judged on their inherent quality and scored according to the following criteria: 

  1. The project promotes the objectives of UNDEF
  2. The project draws on the United Nations’ comparative advantage
  3. The project will have a significant impact
  4. The project will encourage inclusion of marginalized and vulnerable groups
  5. The project will enhance gender equality
  6. The project has strong prospects for successful implementation
  7. The applicant organization has a strong track record
  8. The project is technically sound in conception and presentation
  9. The project represents good value for money
  10. The project has strong prospects of sustainability beyond the project duration. 

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 177422

Estimated Size of Grant:

Applicants can request a grant of a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $300,000. The majority of projects are granted no more than $250,000.

Term of Contract:

UNDEF projects are two years long. However, it is acceptable to UNDEF if a successful applicant completes a project in less than two years.

Please note that, if approved, your project will not commence until October 2020 at the earliest. Therefore, projects with activities that need to commence earlier than this will not be considered.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

UNDEF funds projects implemented by non-UN organizations, not individuals, profit-making or government entities. Eligible applicants must be duly constituted nationally or internationally and have legal status.

At the project proposal stage, you will be required to indicate the type of organization applying for funding:
(1) Civil Society Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations engaged in promoting democracy,
(2) Independent and Constitutional Bodies,
(3) Global and Regional inter-government bodies, organizations and associations other than the United Nations.

Strong preference will be given to applicants from countries and regions where the challenges of democracy are more critical, such as countries emerging from conflict, new and restored democracies, the Least Developed Countries (as per the official classification of the UNOHRLLS), Low Income Countries (“Low Income Economies” as per the World Bank’s official classification based on Gross National Income per capita) and Middle Income Countries.

UNDEF will not give priority to project proposals which focus on the following:
- Initiatives which do not promote democracy
- Initiatives filling a funding gap for on-going/regular programs and activities
- Projects focused primarily on research
- Projects that will be co-financed with other donors.

UNDEF funds projects, not project implementers. Please note therefore that salary, contractual services and miscellaneous costs should be modest.

UNDEF will not give priority to project proposals in which:
- A substantial part (more than 20%) of the budget relates to institutional recurrent costs (e.g. rent, utilities) and/or personnel costs.
- Equipment and hardware purchases are too high in the context of total project costs (e.g. the purchase of vehicles)

Pre-Application Information:

The application window will be open from November 22, 2019 through December 22, 2019. Only project proposals submitted on-line in either English or French, the two working languages of the UN, will be accepted.

By the end of June 2020, all successful short-listed applicants will be notified. Short-listed applicants should submit a completed project document based on the original project proposal within four weeks of the notification of the “approval in principle.”

- November 22, 2019: Call for Project proposals; online project proposal system open
- December 22, 2019: Deadline for Project proposals submission; Online Project Proposal System closed
- Early March 2020: UNDEF Office to compile the “long short-list”
- Mid-March 2020: UNDEF Programme Consultative Group (PCG) & UN Resident Coordinators (RCs) to provide comments
- Early May 2020: UNDEF’s Advisory Board to recommend short-list
- Early May 2020: UNDEF informs Permanent Missions of projects on short list
- Early June 2020: UNDEF submits recommended short list to Secretary-General for approval
- Mid-June 2020: Request to short-listed applicants to draft detailed project
- July-August 2020: Expected deadline for submission of detailed project documents
- September 2020: Project document negotiations begin between applicants and UNDEF office
- September-December 2020: First project documents finalized, first disbursements and projects start

Useful Tips and Lessons Learned for Future Applicants:


Eligibility and application information:

Online application process:

Technical guidance:

Selection process:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Register and Apply Online (English):

Register and Apply Online (French):

Direct questions to:

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)

Canada: Alberta;   British Columbia;   Manitoba;   New Brunswick;   Newfoundland and Labrador;   Northwest Territories;   Nova Scotia;   Nunavut;   Ontario;   Prince Edward Island;   Quebec;   Saskatchewan;   Yukon;


International country outside of the USA, Israel and Canada.

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