Which organisations can apply? Only NGOs or also social enterprises?

Although NGOs are the focus groups, universities can also apply. Social enterprises are eligible in case they do not profit from the projects. Since the direct funding goes to the German organisations, they must be juridical persons, in contrary to the partner countries, where it is not necessary to be a registered organisation and it could be an art collective. Furthermore, one single person cannot be funded but can only stand as an additional partner. Organisations in exile are welcomed to apply.

Is it possible for one organisation to apply for more than one project?

You can hand in as many project ideas as you want. But the chances do not increase with the number of projects. The project ideas have to be substantial. So if you have several project ideas, the advice would be to concentrate on a few so your applications are strong enough to get funding. The partners for the projects can be similar or different.

How important are the SDGs?

The SDGs are kind of an afterthought. They are important, but they are not the primary goal. They don’t have to be mentioned in the project sketch.

Who can I have as a partner organisation?

The German partner is mandatory because the goal of the FFO is to connect civil society actors from Germany and the countries of the Eastern Partnership and Russia. It is also obligatory to have at least one partner either from the Eastern Partnership Countries or Russia. For a few years now it has also been possible to have a French or Polish partner in addition to that. It is not sufficient to have only participants from the countries mentioned above; there must be partner organisations as well.

Can I have a few partners from one country?

Yes, it is possible. Depending on the projects ideas, you might have different topics that the NGOs are working on, or they come from various regions. So you can have several partners. But be aware that implementing a project gets more challenging the more partner organisations you have.

Is it possible to integrate partners outside the target countries when there is already a German partner and one from the Eastern Partnership or Russia?

Yes, it is possible, but you need your own funding or third-party funding to include them.

Can the German Federal Foreign Office help an organisation find the right partner?

Unfortunately, not (due to data security risks). That is why there are networking events such as the conference “Dialogue for the Future”, where civil society actors can connect and find partners. As well as that can also use the community plattform. We would also suggest checking the hashtag #civilsocietycooperation.

Is the funding divided equally between the four pillars?

No, it is not. The projects are chosen only based on the strength of the idea and the diversity of the topics. 

Is there a primary criterion for funding?

The main criterion is the collaboration of a German partner and a partner from the Eastern Partnership or Russia. Working together on the project, you should have an exchange of your experiences and reach as many people as possible.

What can be funded in the scope of the project?

The FFO can fund almost everything you need to implement a project successfully. Due to COVID-19, the funding is more flexible on IT services and digital needs. It is recommended that you rent hardware and technical equipment. Also, anything that you buy for work cannot be used for private purposes.

Can a project be funded from several sources?

Yes, but if you get funding for the project from the Goethe Institute or German political foundations (such as Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung), the FFO cannot fund it. 

If the funding starts in February 2021, do I have it for one year or just until the end of 2021?

Only until the end of 2021, which is due to the fiscal year. You cannot extend the project to 2022. If you have a big project or a university- or school-based project, it can be extended to two years. It can start in summer 2021 and end in summer 2022. 

What if you underestimate your expenses and need more money?

The available funds are planned accordingly. Therefore, it depends on the kind of costs. If, for example, the flight price has changed and the FFO has money at its disposal, you can try to apply to get more. If the FFO cannot provide you with the requested amount of money, you have to come up with your own or third-party funding. In any case, it is better to plan the budget thoroughly in advance.

It is possible to continue the project?

Yes, but it is necessary to see the development — for example, different participants or different countries. The same project cannot be funded again and again. Bear in mind that the decision is taken before the final report reaches the FFO. Maximum funding can be provided for three years, but an absolute newbie would not get funding for three years from the very start. It should be convincing why the project has to run for two or three years and why the goal cannot be reached within the year. 

How is the effectiveness of the project monitored?

The best way to monitor the effectiveness is by visiting the project, which is always a perfect possibility for you to present your project. Since the FFO communicates mainly with the German partners, it is a chance to visit the countries of partners, see how the project is happening, speak directly with the partners abroad, and see whether the funding project reaches its target.

After the project is finalised, you have to hand in a report where you present the work you have done and describe if and how you have reached the goals you aimed for. Some outcomes like “strengthened democracy” or “having changed the media landscape in a positive way” are challenging to measure, and it takes a lot of time for these things to change.

The funding program was evaluated in 2018. It is planned to conduct the evaluation again to see which changes were achieved with the funding overall. Therefore, do not hesitate to invite the FFO’s employees to your events and seminars and give them a glimpse of what you do.

What about the evaluation of the project? How do you make sure that the goal was achieved?

When you hand in the final part of your application, you have to analyse a so-called log frame where you write down the targets you want to achieve with the project. You have to develop the indicators (both qualitative and quantitative), your aims and describe how you would define a successful project. Later, at the end of the project, you submit a report containing two parts: one about the organisation and another one about the targets you aimed to reach. 

How can the projects be implemented in times of Covid 19?

We recommend making use of hybrid formats. You could have online formats at the beginning of the project (first half of the year), and in the second half, you could try to make plans to travel and meet again. There are no clear guidelines on what you should do. It depends on the projects, and some projects just cannot be implemented online. Include information on how you want to implement your project during to the COVID-19 pandemic in your application.

What about mentoring on digitalisation in times of COVID-19? Is there a support programme for projects?

No, there is no such support programme, but you can add these costs, especially if you had them because of COVID-19 or the new need for digitalisation. These are new topics, so the FFO tends to be more open to funding them. Getting funding for other consultations and mentoring can be difficult because you should have the expertise already.