New grant scheme to strengthen Ukrainian civil society

Civil society in Ukraine has a key role to play in uniting the country and building resilience against Russia's war of aggression. Norway is allocating NOK 70 million to a newly launched, application-based scheme to support the work of Ukrainian civil society organisations.

‘Safeguarding and supporting Ukrainian institutions and organisations is crucial to enable Ukraine to succeed in the battle against Russia, in its reconstruction efforts, in the implementation of important reforms and in the fight against corruption,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

Ukraine has many established organisations, particularly in the areas of human rights, democracy, anti-corruption and humanitarian aid. 

‘Norway seeks to support the work of civil society organisations in their efforts to enhance freedom and democracy in Ukraine. In the first instance, NOK 70 million (will be set aside for the scheme,’ said Foreign Minister Eide.

The new grant scheme is intended to strengthen Ukrainian civil society and encourage inclusion and transparency in reconstruction and democratic reform efforts. The Ukrainian organisations play an important part in society, both as service providers and as advocates for marginalised groups. 

The Nansen Support Programme for Ukraine aims to promote the development of a well-functioning, democratic and safe Ukraine. The new grant scheme has its basis in the main objective of the Nansen Support Programme, which is for Ukraine to determine its own future.

Norwegian support is also targeted towards enabling Ukraine to realise its ambitions relating to European integration and EU membership. To achieve these goals, Ukraine must succeed in strengthening its democratic institutions, advancing the rule of law and enhancing the role of civil society. 

Ukrainian civil society has been a key driver of democratic reforms over the past 25 years. Among other things, civil society has mobilised people and brought them together in the protest against corruption. 

‘Thanks to the efforts of civil society organisations, Ukrainian authorities have adopted more transparent and inclusive policies. Civil society has also been constructive in driving reform processes and securing better services for citizens. They provide input to political solutions. This is work we want to support,’ said Mr Eide.

Existing funding schemes for civil society are to a large extent channelled to a small number of professional organisations in the capital or other urban areas. This is partly due to the stringent reporting and other administrative requirements stipulated by the donors.

‘This means there is a great need to be able to reach local organisations outside the big cities as well as groups that are marginalised for various reasons,’ said the Foreign Minister.  

Norway is therefore initially seeking applications from broad-based network organisations or consortiums of up to three such organisations. Applicants must have previous experience in the transfer of small grants to local Ukrainian organisations, as well as in capacity building. 

‘We hope that this scheme will help to boost and strengthen local organisations, while at the same time ensuring compliance with established management and control requirements,’ said Mr Eide.

International, Ukrainian, Norwegian or other foreign network organisations can apply on their own or as partners in a consortium. Local Ukrainian organisations, such as NGOs, interest groups (such as women's organisations), trade unions, religious organisations and independent media organisations can be partners. 

The support scheme will not provide funding for humanitarian efforts or support to the military, private businesses or UN organisations.

The funding period is from 2024 up to and including 2027. The call for proposals will be issued on Norad’s website ( on 19 April. The application deadline is 19 June 2024.