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Commonwealth Foundation Grants Programme – All you need to Know.

Have you heard of the Commonwealth Foundation Grant Programme before? Do you have an NGO of an international or regional standard that is planning to organize a workshop? Do you feel discouraged because you lack the basic financial strength to fund it? Are you looking for ways to increase your chances of becoming a beneficiary of the Commonwealth Foundation Grants Programme? Then, this article is for you!

Commonwealth Foundation is organizing a grant programme for NGOs that are registered in Commonwealth member countries. With over 2.3 billion citizens of the Commonwealth nations, Commonwealth has tried hugely to help its member nations find their voices. The Commonwealth Foundation has great concerns about how you can tell your story effortlessly. The creativity and social impact of your story will enable it to deem you fit for its grants.

Furthermore, your work must have a direct impact on the core values and objectives of the Commonwealth Foundation. You must bear in mind that the selection process of the Foundation is highly competitive. In this article, we would give you a rundown about the grant and what you can do to become a beneficiary.

What is Commonwealth Foundation Grant?

The Commonwealth Grant Programme focuses on offering funding skillful development ideas whose aim is to build up the ability of individuals to get involved in governance through dynamic contributions. The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental organization that is interested in providing support that would enhance the sustainability of civil society. Besides, it fosters equality and intercultural learning within the context of commonwealth countries.

 It is a yearly grant offered to the best project ideas. The eligible NGOs must have involvement in short training courses, workshops seminars, conferences, cultural festivals, and exchange study visits in other countries of the Commonwealth.

Moreover, the programme is only for Commonwealth Countries that are members of the foundation. If that is your case and your organization plans to start up a regional or international seminar, you can send your request to Commonwealth Foundation for membership sponsorship.

In the same vein, you can network with another NGO that operates in another commonwealth developing country by organizing an outdoor visit in either of the two countries. The visit must be meaningful, probably, to see their projects or inviting them over to see yours. This, you can do with the support you got from the grant. It covers air travel, accommodation, and feeding for the visiting staff. It is easier for the Commonwealth Foundation to sponsor exchange visits within the same region than across regions.

The Focus Area for the Commonwealth Grant Programme

 The Civil Society Responsive Grants funds activities that fall into the following categories:

  • Culture
  • Governance and democracy
  • Human development
  • Communities and livelihood

As an applicant, you must ensure that your project idea falls under the above groups. Then, you can link it to the international or intercultural exchange programmes. The themes of the programmes are usually focused on gender and youth.

If you have an NGO that applies for the programme, you must seek ways to connect the objectives and values to those of the foundation.  You must also show proof of accountability and transparency as that would determine how you would handle the grant. In essence, if you cannot be reliable, you cannot be trusted with public funds.

As an applicant of the Commonwealth Foundation Grant Programme, you mustn’t be more than 35. Similarly, you must be either a man or a woman as the Foundation ensures equal representation of both genders. Then, you must possess transferable skills. Having transferable skills means you can do the job well. In everything, you must be from a developing country.

Who Funds the Commonwealth Foundation Grant Programme?

The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental organization. The Commonwealth Heads of governments formed it in 1966. This was a year after they established the Commonwealth Secretariat. The location of the Foundation is at Marlborough House in London, a former royal palace that became the central meeting point of the Commonwealth bodies.

In addition, the Foundation is a Commonwealth agency for civil society. Its 49 member states are in charge of funding it. The aim is to ensure hands-on governance through its diverse programmes. It offers funds, grants, and access to platforms that foster good engagement in the civil society and institutions that support good governance. To join the membership of the Commonwealth Foundation is not compulsory. Also, membership is different from that of the Commonwealth of Nations. This means that a member of the Commonwealth of Nations may not be a member of the Commonwealth Foundation.

The Foundation has five programme areas in its focus. They include:

  • Capacity development
  • Governance
  • Creative expression
  • Learning and
  • Grants

You can read more about the Foundation here

See also Commonwealth Scholarships

Eligibility Criteria for the Applicant

The following would qualify you to become among the beneficiaries of the Commonwealth Foundation Grant:

  • The applicant (or partners, in some cases) must be a registered, not-for-profit civil society organisation (CSOs). The applicant (or partners, in some cases) must also be registered in a Commonwealth Foundation member country. The project to be executed must be carried out in a Commonwealth Foundation member state. Not to forget, a link to the list of the Commonwealth Foundation member countries has been provided above.
  • The applicant is funding for a minimum of £5000 and a maximum of £12 500 per quarter. It could also be a minimum of £20 000 and a maximum of £50 000 per year.
  • The applicant is applying for a grant for a maximum of four years.
  • The applicant does not have any current grant from the Commonwealth Foundation at the time of applying for any grant.
  • The average total income of the applicant over the previous two years is not up to £3 million.
  • The project in question must address issues relating to one or both of the Commonwealth Foundation’s focus areas.
  • Australian, Canadian and New Zealander nationals can apply. However, their projects must be carried out in Commonwealth member developing countries.
  • The Commonwealth Foundation does not consider applications from government or intergovernmental organisations, for-profit organisations and organisations that are not based in eligible countries.

Documents that the Applicant Must Provide

The applicant must present the following documents as part of the application for the Commonwealth Foundation grants:

  • A completed logic model using the Commonwealth Foundation template
  • A copy of the organisation’s registration certificate
  • A copy of the organisation’s most current audited accounts. This includes both the accounts and the views of the external editor who certified them. It should not be older than two years. Independently audited accounts or projects will not be accepted in place of organisational audited ones
  • A copy of the registration certificate for all partner organisations. Trust deeds will not be accepted in place of a registration certificate.

How to Apply for Commonwealth Foundation Grant Programme

To apply for the Commonwealth Foundation Grants, you will need to login into your SurveyMonkey Apply account. Then, you can complete and submit an online application form. You can only submit your application using the right portal if you must receive consideration.

In addition, if you have previously applied for the grant, you may not need to create a new account because your old account can still serve. All you need to do is to log in using your old email address and password. Follow the instructions and act accordingly.

In case you cannot log in, contact [email protected]. That is after you must have read and followed the instructions on the document. Send a message to the address too if you have any issues with your application.

Further to that, you will receive an email from [email protected]. Please, do not reply to the email as your message will not be monitored.

You will need to also note that filling in the application form does not automatically submit it. After filling in the application, you will need to go back to the main application page and click on the submit button to submit the application. [email protected] will send a confirmation email to you.

You can submit your proposal to the Commonwealth Foundation at any time of the year. Nevertheless, the application deadlines take place every quarterly. That is to say, you must submit for each quarter within the specified deadline. Below is a guide:

Months for Grant ActivitiesApplication DeadlinesFeedback from the Foundation
January, February, MarchSeptember 30Beginning of December
April, May, JuneDecember 31Beginning of March
July, August, SeptemberMarch 31Beginning of April
October, November, DecemberJune 30Beginning of September

Application Process for the Commonwealth Foundation Grant Programme

  • The application is online.
  • You will need to download the guidelines of the grant and the criteria for eligibility. Then, click on ‘submit an application’ to begin the application process.
  • If you have any questions, you can send them to [email protected].
  • The deadline for application is according to the dates above, though it might vary each year.
  • The Commonwealth Foundation has some specific dates that its portal could be closed. Within such dates, your queries and other things may not likely receive any answers. Therefore, send your questions before the deadline for submissions.

How much can You Apply for?

The minimum amount to be applied for is £5000 and the maximum is £12 500. But in rare situations, you can apply as much as £25 000 for your NGO. For such cases, the Grant Committee comes together twice a year (precisely March and September) to make decisions regarding any fund application over £12 500. For other requests that are below £12 500, you can make your request anytime within the quarterly deadline.

What Happens After The Commonwealth Foundation Has Offered You the Grant?

The Foundation does not put unnecessary pressure on the beneficiaries before granting them the fund. Once the committee takes the decision, the fund is transferred to the account of the recipient. It does not end there though. Once the activities for the grant are carried out, the NGO that received the grant would need to submit a report. The report will explain what the grant was exactly used for and how it impacted the recipients. Then, it should also contain other benefits of the grant and what the beneficiary achieved with it.

Afterward, the beneficiary must support the Commonwealth Foundation in their news, publications, or events. This is a way to pay back for their good deeds.

To apply for the next Commonwealth Foundation Grant Programme, you can visit the website here.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Commonwealth Foundation Grants

The following are some of the questions previously asked about the programme:

  1. What kind of annual accounts must the applicants submit?

The annual account must have a balance sheet, a profit and loss statement as well as a note about the account. The annual account also is signed off by the Board or the organization’s Executive Director.

  • Can an applicant carry out a project in a country they are not registered in?

Most of the annual grants emphasize that projects must be carried out in the country they are registered in. However, in situations where it is not applicable, it will be specified.

  • Can two or more organisations submit the same application?

Two or more organizations can submit the same application. But in this case, one of the organizations will act as the applicant, while the other one as the partner(s).

  • Can an organisation be an applicant in one application and a partner in another application?

No, every organization has only one chance of applying. It must either apply as an applicant or a partner. Hence, it can only apply for one grant.

  • Can the grants cover projects that aim at training government officials to strengthen their skills?

Activities that intend to sponsor government officials or projects and/or those of the private sector will not receive any attention from the grant. However, there are rare cases where you can include such in the grants if there is a strong reason for that. Other sources of funding can cover that though.

To become a beneficiary of a grant is a beautiful thing. Commonwealth Foundation is one of the avenues you can fund your project. Though the process may not be easy as it is quite competitive, however, if you meet the eligibility criteria, you have good chances of receiving the grants.

In addition, try not to wait until a few hours before the submission deadline before you can submit your application. This is because if there are any issues you encounter; you may not be able to assess the portal once it passed the deadline. So, try your best to become a beneficiary of the Commonwealth Foundation grant. However, if you are not lucky, there are other grants available on our website that you can access

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