EC Funding

The European Union is the largest international development donor in the world.

Many organisations receive substantial amounts of funding from the EU, but the process can be complex.

Below is a brief guide to funding from the EU.

Organisations seeking further support and guidance may be interested in our training and our EU Advice Line.

EC Funding

NGOs can access EC funds through two distinct sources:

  • The annual EC Budget (also known as the Community Budget), which covers cooperation with developing countries in all geographic regions and countries with economies in transition.
  • The European Development Fund (EDF), which covers cooperation with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries under the Cotonou Agreement.

Applying for an EC grant? Our EC Funding Advice Line can help.

The main point of access for NGOs is through the Community Budget. NGOs do have some access to the EDF, but it is mainly reserved for governments.

The principle financial instruments open to NGOs working in international development are:

How to apply for funding

Bond trainer Bill Bruty looks at the four stages of making an effective approach.

There are many ways to ask a donor for money. Unfortunately there are as many different ways of being turned down. There are, however, some fundamental elements that need to be considered if your application has any chance of being successful.

The majority of successful applications can be broken down into four key stages:

  • Stage one: Identification and evaluation.
  • Stage two: Raising awareness.
  • Stage three: Exploring the opportunities.
  • Stage four: Making the agreement.

Stage one: Identification and evaluation

There are hundreds of potential sources of funding for your organisation or project. The first key stage of any successful funding application is to correctly identify the best funders to approach.

  • Does the funder support the activities you want funded?
  • Can they give you the funding you need?
  • Are they accepting applications?

Stage two: Raising awareness

The funder needs to be made aware of your organisation's existence, its aims and capabilities. If they don't achieve this basic level of understanding about who you are and what you do then there is little scope for further development of the relationship.

Stage three: Exploring the opportunities

This should be an exchange between the funder and your organisation over their respective needs. Funders have needs too! This should be a dialogue between equal partners, with active listening by both parties resulting in a mutually agreed proposal.

Stage four: Making the agreement

This should be the easiest stage. The previous three stages should have led to applications that have been initiated and developed by both parties.

Failure at this stage is usually due to hidden flaws earlier on, and usually because there was insufficient recognition of the genuine needs of the funder.

Essentially, a refusal should be regarded as an opportunity to re-examine, evaluate and further develop your relationship with the funder.

Whatever the conclusion of these four stages, at the end of the process you need to start again at stage one. You are either aiming to be successful next time or you need to start preparing the donor for a larger request.