strategic priority
Civic Engagement
PERIOD
April 2015 – September 2020
BUDGET
$1,438,428
RAF'S CONTRIBUTION
$870,710
16,500 USD
MAXIMUM
is the value of a grant awarded from the Civic Innovation Fund
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Civic Innovation Fund

This program supports the consolidation of a national fund to support small organizations and innovative ideas for community development.

CONTEXT

The Civic Innovation Fund was developed by FDSC in 2012, with funding from the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE Trust) and other private donors in Romania. Nowadays, it is the main national mechanism to support local initiatives and encourage citizens’ involvement in the development of their own communities.

About 80 civic initiatives have been run by various NGOs though this fund over the past years. For the next instalment, the program will mostly focus on grassroots organizations whose budget under 60,000 USD a year.

Civil society in Romania has a number of issues, among which lack of funds is one of the most serious. Accessing and managing structural funds is difficult for NGOs. Locally active, small organizations find it hard to get funding for civic involvement. Most of these initiatives are led by their need to survive and must adjust to the conditions imposed by the various funding sources available occasionally. Even if they identify valuable solutions for the issues of the communities that they would like to test, lack of experience in planning and management presents a serious disadvantage in the competition for grants.

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STRATEGY

The partnership between RAF and FDSC aims for the Civic Innovation Fund to encourage community projects and develop the capacity of small organizations by stimulating the interest of other donors in creating a market for civic projects. RAF’s contribution will gradually decrease until the end of the program, to be replaced by contributions from other organizations and companies willing to support this field.

The program will fund initiatives in areas like citizens’ mobilization and accountability, monitoring public policies, civic education and involving children and youth in community life. At the same time, special attention will be given to counseling beneficiary organizations, promoting best practices and successful projects.

The fund, managed by FDSC, provides annual grants to local organizations following a competitive proposal selection process. Grants may reach a maximum of 16,500 USD for each NGO and the duration of a project is up to a year.

Testimonials

The Civic Innovation Fund supports initiatives thet are able to change the traditional mentality and develop a civic spirit. The program is mostly focused on young NGOs, without a lot of experience in project management. The program is, at the same time, a model for a successful partnership between socially responsible companies and NGOs. The companies that chose to support FDSC in creating this fund continue to provide financial support for the program year after year.

Ionuț Sibian
FDSC

We have learned that the applications from NGOs reflect community needs very well. The Civic Innovation Fund follows a few directions and, at the same time, stays open to the NGOs requests, which often reflect the necessary change. One of the lessons learned  is that they can be innovative even  on small budgets. The initiatives funded through the Civic Innovation Fund bring on best practice models and find solutions for the community by using local resources. People have an extraordinary capacity for innovation, many times on budgets which, when compared to the change they generate, are very small. Last, but not least, the trust we put in an organization at the beginning of its journey can help it grow. There are examples of organizations that started with a project funded through the Civic Innovation Fund and then managed to attract more funding.

Simona Constantinescu
FDSC
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