UNDEF supports projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes. The large majority of UNDEF funds go to local civil society organizations — both in the transition and consolidation phases of democratization. Projects should fall under one or more of seven main areas: (1) community activism; (2) rule of law and human rights; (3) tools for knowledge; (4) women’s empowerment; (5) youth engagement; (6) media and freedom of information; and (7) strengthening interaction with government.
The following institutions are eligible for UNDEF grant funding: (1) civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations, engaged in promoting democracy (these are anticipated to receive the bulk of the funding; (2) independent and constitutional bodies, including election commissions, ombudsman institutions, national human rights institutions and other independent governance bodies, for project proposals facilitating the inclusion of the voice of civil society; and (3) global and regional inter-government bodies, organisations and associations other than the United Nations, for project proposals which strengthen the voice of civil society.
They are supporting projects worldwide in America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific. Proposals from all countries as well as regional and global initiatives are considered. However, strong preference is given to applicants from countries and regions that are in the transition and consolidation phases of democratization, in particular countries emerging from conflict, new and restored democracies, least developed countries and low or middle income countries.
The grants are 2 years long ranging from $100,000-$300,000. 50-60 projects are selected annually. Fewer than 2% of all applications are funded.
UNDEF invites civil society organisations to apply for funding for projects to advance and support democracy during the annual proposal window, which is open only from 15 November to 15 January 2019. Only on-line proposals during this period, in either English or French, are accepted.