32 applicants will receive grants in the call for sectoral projects in the Active Citizens Fund – National Programme, financed by the EEA Financial Mechanism. EUR 4.2 m will go to organisations conducting projects that provide support for the civic sector in Poland.
Training for rural housewife circles, monitoring implementation of statutory legal aid for foreigners, providing support for organisations with little experience on safe use of the Internet, or administrative and legal aspects of conducting social activity – these are just a few examples of the initiatives for which grants were awarded.
Most applicants (21) will conduct capacity-building for social organisations and civic groups. Primarily, this will be activities to develop knowledge and skills of persons in social organisations or organisations pursuing non-profit initiatives, but also for example providing support for the services provided by organisations. The other 11 applications were for advocacy, monitoring, and research projects, and projects promoting civic sector activities.
The more than EUR 4 m distributed in this call will go towards both the projects and capacity building for the organisations themselves. Each organisation can receive a maximum of EUR 12 500 for this purpose. This will enable applicants and their partners to improve the efficiency and the quality of their activities.
Target group envisaged in projects awarded grants
As many as 21, i.e. a vast majority of the projects, are nationwide projects. Nine cover one or two voivodships. In each of the voivodships of Mazowiecki, Podlaski, and Warmińsko-mazurski, two projects will be implemented, and one each in Śląsk, Dolny Śląsk, and Wielkopolski and the Lubelski and Świętokrzyski voivodships. Two applications were for projects on an international scale.
Who benefits from the projects
Some of the projects are intended for all social organisations and civic groups active throughout Poland or in a specific region. Some are aimed at addressees with a more specific profile, such as rural housewife circles, advocacy organisations, and patient support organisations that distribute food to the needy and work with senior citizens, assist immigrants, conduct human rights and rule of law watchdog activities, or perform activities to mobilise young people to become socially active and participate in public life.
The projects implemented will include training and workshops, advice and consultations, assistance in devising strategy, activating cooperation between organisations, and building and strengthening the organisation network, providing access to digital resources and infrastructure to support promotion and fundraising, monitoring and advocacy activities, social campaigns, and research into various aspects of civic society activities.
All of the projects will be partnerships. All but one of the 32 organisations that were awarded grants entered into cooperation with partners based in Poland, mostly with other social organisations, but also with local government institutions. In some cases, the partners are businesses or institutions of higher education. Ten organisations asked institutions – apart from partners from Poland – from the Donor States Norway and Iceland to cooperate with them as well.
Examples of projects
Most of the projects involve aid and support for less experienced organisations based outside large conurbations, in regions where access to aid programmes is hindered.
In the East for Leaders project, the School for Leaders Foundation will conduct, in partnership with the Kielce Regional Volunteer Centre and the Białystok CSO Support Centre, a series of training sessions for local activists in the Świętokrzyski and Podlaski voivodships. Forty foundations and associations in these two voivodships will benefit from training, advice, and individual tutoring.
Due to grants provided for the project “Voluntary Fire Brigade – Young People Potential”, the Polish Voluntary Fire Brigade Association, in cooperation with the Klon/Jawor Association, provided organisational support and expert advice for more than 1000 voluntary fire brigades throughout Poland. The project involved training for young activists on organisation management and leadership skills development.
The Kraków Anti-Smog Campaign will help more than 40 organisations and informal groups throughout Poland to develop clean air campaign activities.
In turn, the Toruń Dialogue and Discourse Institute, together with the Demagogue Association set up the NGO Digital Responsibility School to help approximately 50 Polish organisations learn to negotiate the Internet safely.
One of the projects awarded a grant was a Białystok-based Look East Foundation initiative implemented in cooperation with the Rural Housewife Circle “Łapianka in high heels” in Łapy Dębowina. In the project “Capacity Building for Rural Housewife Circles in the Podlaski Voivodship”, 200 members of local circles attended training on activation of the local community, project management, and finance. The architects of the project also plan to create the Podlaski Federation of Rural Housewife Circles.
The application for the project “Field – Supporting Aid Organisations Salvaging Food”, submitted by the Federation of Polish Food Banks in partnership with Food Banks Norway, proposes training for approximately 350 organisations throughout Poland. The architects of the project will prepare instructional videos and webinars for these organisations, on issues such as the procedure for collecting food from retail stores or food donation documentation. They will also draw up proposals for amendments to the Act on Combating Food Wastage.
Another example of how support was provided for less experienced organisations is the Wałbrzych Merkury Foundation initiative implemented in partnership with the Good Works Foundation, the Kraina Wzgórz Trzebnickich Local Group Association, and the Citizens Foundation Iceland. The “Non-government Casualty Department” project provides a full range of advice and training on fundraising, administrative and legal aspects, and soft skills such as communication.
As few applications were submitted for projects concerning monitoring of formulation of the law and the practice of enforcing the law and public policies, and advocacy for rights and interests, another call will be announced this month for sectoral projects, intended solely for activities of this kind. Details of the rules on applying for grants in this call will be given shortly.
Meanwhile, up until Monday 11 January 2021, it is possible to submit applications in the second call for thematic projects, in three areas. These are civic participation in public life and social activities, defending human rights and promoting equality, and empowerment of vulnerable groups. We welcome in particular projects concerning intervention and support for women and LGBT+ exposed to violence, including domestic and sexual violence. Higher scores will also be awarded for instance for training to help vulnerable persons conduct social activities as self-advocates, and projects that help people of opposing views on major social issues to enter into discourse.
Two months from now, in March, calls will be announced for grants in our sister programme, the Active Citizens Fund – Regional Programme.
The Active Citizens Fund – National Programme is financed by the EEA Financial Mechanism, using funds from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway. The Programme subscribes to the universal values specified in the TEU: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, including rights of persons belonging to minorities. The aim of the Programme is to provide support for social organisations in Poland, strengthen the civic society and civic activity, and empower vulnerable groups. In Poland, the Programme is run by a consortium of three organisations, which are the Stefan Batory Foundation (consortium leader), the “Shipyard” Centre for Social Innovation and Research Foundation, and the Academy of Civic Organizations Foundation.
The results of the call for projects can be found HERE.