Type of Funding





The Commonwealth Foundation awards grants for sustainable innovative development projects that seek to strengthen the ability of civic voices to engage with governments and that have the potential to improve governance and development outcomes through their active participation. The Foundation is inviting applications for the 2019/2020 grants, for projects that will be implemented in eligible developing Commonwealth Foundation member countries. The grants are intended to contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. For this grant cycle, projects should start between October and December 2020.

The projects submitted should strengthen civic voice so that it:

  • Is more effective in holding governance institutions to account;
  • Enhances involvement in policy processes; and
  • Shapes public discourse.

The project should address 1 or both of the following outcomes and may include the use of creative expression:

  1. Stronger civic voices engaging in policy processes to hold government to account: the project should strengthen the capacity of civic voices in contributing to: monitoring government commitments and action; supporting the implementation of the SDGs or other international agreements, and related local and national policy agendas; advocating policy priorities to government that address gender and other power imbalances, disparities and discrimination; strengthening participatory methods of engaging in regional national and local governance processes; and raising awareness and advocating for specific policy issues.
  2. Public discourse more reflective of less-heard voices: the project will support less heard voices to contribute to public discourse on development issues; and support less heard voices to access policy spaces and/or platforms with the potential to amplify voices and influence public discourse.

All proposals must ensure that the cross cutting theme of gender is mainstreamed throughout the project.


Grants of up to £200,000 over 4 years (maximum of £50,000 per year) will be awarded. Six to 8 grants will be awarded.


Applicants must be from the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Eswatini, Ghana, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Vanuatu and Zambia. Applicants may be from these countries but the projects must be implemented in the countries other than Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Applicants and their partners (if applicable), must be registered not for profit civil society organisations (CSOs). The applicant and, when applicable, partner(s) must be registered in 1 of the abovementioned Commonwealth Foundation member countries and the project should take place in a Commonwealth Foundation member country. Applicants cannot have an existing grant from the Commonwealth Foundation. The average of the applicant’s total income over the last 2 years has to be less than £3 million.

The following are ineligible to apply:

  • Government and intergovernmental organisations
  • For profit organisations and
  • Organisations who are not based in eligible Commonwealth Foundation member countries.

The Commonwealth Foundation will not fund:

  • Projects that are mid-cycle
  • Attendance at training courses, workshops and conferences unless as part of a larger project funded by the grant
  • Academic study or research unless as part of a larger project funded by the grant
  • Publication of books and films, unless they are part of and/or learning tools developed as a result of a larger project funded by a Commonwealth Foundation grant
  • Exchanges between developed countries
  • Activities that are solely targeted at government officials and/or the private sector.


Preliminary applications are to be done online by 9 January 2020. 

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