Programme implementation agreement signed for the Active Citizens Fund in Estonia

The programme implementation agreement for the Active Citizens Fund in Estonia was signed on 18 February 2019.

Active Citizens Fund in Estonia
Photo credit: Christophe Vander Eecken

Key information about the programme

  1. The programme is operated by: Open Estonia Foundation (lead) in consortium with the Network of Estonian Non-profit Organisations
  2. The programme’s objective is: Civil society and active citizenship strengthened and vulnerable groups empowered
  3. The programme funding amounts to €4 million and is funded entirely by the EEA Grants.

Why is the programme needed?

The Active Citizens Fund in Estonia reflects a firm recognition of the civil society sector’s role as a fundamental building block of democratic governance, human rights and social cohesion.  Civil society organisations (CSOs) mobilise participation in civic life, and play a key role in promoting active citizen engagement in decision-making at local, national and European levels. CSOs tackle social problems arising from inequality and discrimination. They contribute to the activation and empowerment of disadvantaged people and minority groups, by helping them overcome barriers to participation and ensure that their voices are heard.

The Estonian civil society sector comprises diverse organizations tackling complex social problems by way of advocacy or service provision, as well as active grassroot organizations speaking on behalf of their communities and promoting active citizenship. However, there are signs that the gap between professional and less-experienced CSOs are growing, in particular when it comes to access to funding. Lacking resources, in terms of funding, people and necessary skills, hampers efficient participation in public policy processes and affects the ability to engage with both constituents and the greater public. Further key challenges to the sustainability of CSOs and the sector overall include relatively weak cooperation amongst organizations, a predominance of project-based funding opportunities making long-term planning and strategic activities difficult to sustain, insufficient knowledge of existing collaborative tools and processes, and a general lack of advocacy skills.  

What will the programme achieve and who are the beneficiaries? 

The overall goals of programme are to support CSOs working to promote democratic culture and increase civic awareness, promoting and defending human rights and equal treatment, and empowering vulnerable groups. In addition, the programme seeks to strengthen the overall capacity and sustainability of the sector and improve outreach to underserved areas and target groups. Particular attention is given to the promotion of inter-cultural understanding and the integration of national minorities, including dedicated measures to reach out to Russian-speaking groups. A pre-defined project aims at strengthening the sector’s capacity and ensuring youth inclusion by providing future civil society leaders with skills in CSO management, advocacy and financial sustainability. It is expected that at the end of the programme period, the Active Citizens Fund in Estonia will have contributed to the improved capacity of advocacy and watchdog organizations, informed and meaningful civic participation, improved access to services and new approaches to empower vulnerable groups, and increased public awareness of the programme’s thematic areas of support.  Collaboration, networking and new partnerships between CSOs, alongside new and strengthened

engagement in CSO activities, will further add to the sustainability of the sector and of supported projects.  

The Active Citizens Fund in Estonia covers the following five areas of support:

  • Democracy, active citizenship, good governance and transparency
  • Human rights and equal treatment through combating any discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Social justice and inclusion of vulnerable groups
  • Gender equality and gender-based violence
  • Environment and climate change. 

How will the programme strengthen bilateral relations? 

The programme will contribute to strengthening bilateral relations between CSOs and other entities in Estonia and in the Donor States, in line with the overall objectives of the Grants. Bilateral cooperation shall be mutually beneficial, based on a strategic and long-term perspective, and leveraging the respective strengths of entities in the Donor States and in Estonia. Donor partnership projects will be facilitated through matchmaking events and activities in conjunction with the launch of calls for proposals and encouraged in call texts.   

Availability of funding through open calls

In addition to one pre-defined project, the funding in this programme will be made available through the following open calls:

  • Call 1: Call for medium and large grants – Q3 2019 (open)
  • Call 2: Call for small grants (capacity building) – Q4 2019
  • Call 3: Call for medium and large projects – Q3 2020
  • Call 4: Call for small grants (capacity building) – Q4 2020
  • Call 5: Call for small grants (capacity building) – Q4 2021

Precise timing of calls may be subject to change.  More information can also be found on the Fund Operator’s website

Download the full programme implementation agreement for more detailed information about the programme.