Open Call for Proposals for Small Capacity Building Grants: Active Citizens Fund of the EEA Grants

The Active Citizens Fund is a specific programme area within the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2014-2021 funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. The objective of the Active Citizens Fund is: “Civil society and active citizenship strengthened, and vulnerable groups empowered”. The Programme will seek to develop the long-term sustainability and capacity of the civil society sector, strengthening its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship and human rights, and empowerment of vulnerable groups. The Programme shall be based on the common values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

The Open Estonia Foundation is announcing an open call for proposals for civil society organisations that are aimed at enhanced capacity and sustainability of civil society organisations.

The Active Citizens Fund seeks to develop the long-term sustainability and capacity of the civil society sector, with the aim of strengthening its role in contributing to democratic governance, policy development, promoting democratic participation and active citizenship. Priority is also given to actions that improve the accountability of NGOs to the wider public and strengthen their ability to empower and involve local communities, as well as advocate on their behalf, and actions to communicate the impact of civil society to social change.

Civil society organisations working in public benefit that work in the following five areas are eligible to apply:

  • 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


Projects funded under this Open Call for Proposals must contribute to the following outcomes and outputs of the Active Citizens Fund Estonia:


Expected programme results


Programme-level objective

Civil society and active citizenship strengthened, and vulnerable groups empowered


Number of people engaged in civil society organisation activities

Outcome 4

Enhanced capacity and sustainability of civil society

Number of CSOs with effective management procedures

Number of CSOs with transparent and accountable governance procedures

Number of CSOs using M&E system for their work

Number of new joint initiatives conducted by CSOs with other CSOs

Output 4.1

Platforms and networks among CSOs established or sustained

Number of CSOs establishing new partnerships

Output 4.2

Monitoring and evaluation capacity of CSOs supported

Number of CSOs supported to implement impact evaluation tools


Projects must focus at capacity building of civil society organisations and may include various types of measures, for example:

  • development of transparent and accountable governance procedures of CSOs;

  • improving of CSOs’ management procedures;

  • bringing new knowledge, skills and people to civil society activities;

  • strengthening CSO networks;

  • mutual learning and dissemination, e.g. mentorship programmes;

  • implementing impact evaluation tools to measure the impact of CSOs;

  • forging partnerships with other sectors;

  • activities to improve financial viability etc.


The above list is non-exhaustive and elaborates on the types of activities that are eligible for support.

We specifically welcome projects that increase the engagement of national minority organisations and thus increase multicultural understanding.

Small grants are available between EUR 10,000 to 20,000 and the duration of the projects must be between 12 to 18 months.

Altogether EUR 250,000 is available for small capacity building grants under the current call for proposals.

The grant rate is up to 90% of eligible expenditures of the project. The co-financing must be provided in the form of cash or in-kind contribution in the form of voluntary work. Voluntary work may constitute up to 100% of the co-financing required for the project and it may be provided only by the project promoter and/or any NGO acting as a project partner(s). In the framework of the current call the cost of voluntary work shall be between EUR 4,29 and 11,00 depending on the nature of work.

Eligible organisations can submit one application as (lead) applicant within the call. There is no limitation as to the number of partnerships any organisation may be involved in as a project partner.

Deadline for submitting applications is December 9, 2019. Applications, along with detailed budget, partnership declarations (if relevant), CVs of key staff and the latest annual report should be submitted in the Estonian language electronically via e-mail sent to by 23:59 Estonian time on the date of the deadline of the call. All documents must be in one digital container signed by an authorized person.

Detailed information on eligibility criteria and application requirements, application forms, and the dates and locations of upcoming information days and training opportunities are available at the website of the Active Citizens Fund Estonia at Evaluation criteria for small capacity building grants can be found HERE.


Questions should be sent to the OEF no later than five working days before the deadline for the submission of applications. The questions must be sent by email to indicating in the subject line the organisation’s name. Questions will be answered within 3 days.

Questions and answers will be published on the Active Citizens Fund Estonia website. No reference will be made to the name of the organisation who submitted the concrete question. It is therefore advisable to consult the website regularly.

To ensure equal treatment of applicants, the OEF cannot give a prior opinion on the eligibility of applicants, an action or specific activities.


Additional information:
Ksenia Gutnitšenko
Open Estonia Foundation
Tel. + 372 615 5700 


Support to civil society is a key priority for the EEA and Norway Grants 2014-2021, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in 15 EU Member States in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics. Ten per cent of the total country allocations is set aside for a programme for civil society in each beneficiary state. The Active Citizens Fund is established under the priority sector ‘Culture, Civil Society, Good Governance and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms’, one of five priority sectors agreed between the donors and the European Union. The fund shall contribute to the overall objectives of the EEA and Norway Grants, to reduce economic and social disparities, and to strengthen bilateral relations between the beneficiary and donor states.

The Open Estonia Foundation in consortium with the Network of Estonian Non-profit Organisations have been appointed as the Fund Operator of the Active Citizens Fund in Estonia by the Financial Mechanism Office through an open and competitive tender process. Between 2019 and 2024 a total of 3,3 million euro will be available for the Estonian CSOs through open calls for proposals and other support activities.