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Commonwealth Foundation 2021-2022 Grants Call

Commonwealth Foundation 2021-2022 Grants Call

Introduction and overview

As one of the three intergovernmental pillars of the Commonwealth, the Foundation operates within that critical space between government and the people. The Foundation works to bring the voice of civil society into all aspects of governance, supporting civil society engagement in shaping the policies and decisions that affect people’s lives.

The Foundation’s vision is of a Commonwealth of equal, just, and inclusive societies. Our mission is to contribute to that vision by:

  • Supporting the active and constructive participation of Commonwealth citizens in all aspects of their governance
  • Nurturing the growth of vibrant and free civil societies in all Commonwealth countries
  • Advancing the principles and ideals of the Commonwealth

The Foundation’s Strategic Plan 2021-2026 is strongly linked to the Commonwealth Charter and its values and aspirations. It also seeks to reflect and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDGs three, five, and 13-16, including all relevant targets focussing on participation in decision-making at all levels. It identifies three thematic areas of focus: (i) health; (ii) environment and climate change; and (iii) freedom of expression, with gender equality as a cross-cutting theme. Civil society projects that aim to advance these themes will be supported through this call for applications. See section five for further information on our thematic areas.


Who is eligible to apply for this grant:

Eligibility for grant funding under this call depends on the following criteria:

  1. The applicant is a registered not-for-profit civil society organization (CSO).
  2. The applicant is registered in an eligible Commonwealth Foundation member country and the proposed project will be implemented in the country of registration. Please see a full list of eligible countries at com/grants. (Projects can be implemented in one or more eligible Commonwealth Foundation member countries and can have a national, sub-national, regional, or international remit). In multi-country projects, the Foundation encourages collaboration with partners in each involved country (see further information on partnerships below).
  3. The applicant has documented experience, over at least two years, working on participatory governance and advocacy within the proposed area/theme(s).
  4. The total grant amount requested must be between £15,000 and

£30,000 per year for a maximum of two years.

  1. The requested grant amount should not exceed 70% of the applicant organization’s total annual
  2. The average of the applicant organization’s total annual income over the past two years must be less than £2m.
  3. The project proposal must address at least one of the priority themes and demonstrate appropriate and meaningful integration of gender considerations.

Proposals must relate to projects that are expected to begin within the second half of 2022.


  1. The Foundation appreciates that CSOs interested in applying for a grant may already be doing significant work that falls within the parameters of this grant’s call and that would benefit from support for its expansion and/or continuation. We are therefore happy to consider supporting an additional component or extension of an existing initiative. This should be made clear in the
  2. The Foundation is piloting support for the inclusion of a creative element into projects funded under this call. This is an optional element to be funded separately (up to 15% of the total grant awarded). Additional details can be found

How to apply 

Applicants are required to complete an online application form. All applications must include the following additional documentation:

  • A logic model and activity timeline (completed using the template provided).
  • A copy of the organization’s registration certificate. This should be a scan of an official registration document provided by the relevant authorities in the country where the organization is
  • For grants of £15,000 per annum: a copy of the organization’s most recent audited accounts or annual accounts. Note that annual accounts must include a balance sheet, a profit and loss statement, and notes about the account. They must be signed off by the organization’s Board or its principal executive officer. Audited or annual accounts must not be older than December
  • For grants of £15,001 and above: a copy of the organization’s most recent audited accounts. Note that audited accounts must include both the accounts and the opinion of the external auditor who has certified them. They should not be older than December 2


Priority themes for this call: 

The Foundation is currently focussing its work on three priority themes: (i) health; (ii) environment and climate change; and (iii) freedom of expression.


Support civil society to engage meaningfully with the government on:

  • Universal health
  • Realizing the right to health: better availability, accessibility, quality, participation, and accountability in health services and
  • Programs and policies that focus on the social determinants of health as part of the inclusive right to
  • Equitable access to health services for marginalized groups (e.g., migrants) and those with special needs (e.g., people living with HIV or disabilities).
  • Promoting the participation of marginalized groups and those with special needs in decision-making
  • Promoting health and well-being by combating communicable and non-communicable
  • Equitable access to vaccines and essential

Freedom of expression 

Support civil society to engage meaningfully with the government to:

  • Advocate for a legal and regulatory environment that protects and upholds freedom of expression for
  • Advocate for a legal and regulatory environment that promotes the freedom, growth, and vibrancy of civil
  • Promote access to information and transparency in governance, including through a free and independent press, robust freedom of information laws, and are practical
  • Support civil society engagement in national, regional, and/or international mechanisms and processes to promote freedom of expression (e.g., national human rights institutions; Universal Periodic Reviews).

Support civil society to work with artists to raise awareness of freedom of expression issues and engage in advocacy efforts (note this could become part of the additional creative element as set out below).


Environment and climate change

Support civil society to engage meaningfully with the government to:

  • Develop, review, and improve laws, policies, and practices aimed at addressing environmental and climate
  • Monitor the implementation of relevant laws, policies, and practices (e.g., of national climate plans and commitments).
  • Address mitigation and adaptation
  • Support community-level adaptation measures aimed at improving the resilience of those most affected (e.g., improving the resilience of market vendors against extreme weather events).
  • Expose and address the factors that contribute to the increased vulnerability of social groups to the consequences of environmental degradation and climate
  • Expose and address negative social and distributional outcomes of climate change mitigation policies and/or encourage support for the development of pro-poor mitigation
  1. The review, shortlisting, and approval process

Applications open at 1 pm on 29 October 2021 and close at 1 pm on 30 November 2021.

Shortlisted applicants will be contacted by Foundation staff by the end of March 2022. These applicants will be invited to provide further information in support of their application including a detailed project budget. At that time, applicants may also discuss and refine any initial proposals to add a creative component to the application.

Confirmed grantees will be informed by the end of June 2022 and it is expected that grant agreements will be concluded soon thereafter, allowing for implementation to begin as soon as possible in the third quarter of 2022 (July-September).

The assessment criteria for applications are as follows:

  1. The applicant organization meets all eligibility
  2. The application provides a clear description of the problem that the applicant is seeking to
  3. The application provides a clear explanation of how the applicant plans to address the problem and contribute to its
  4. The application makes a persuasive case for the proposed approach to the problem. Is the approach timely? Is it relevant? Is it feasible?
  5. The applicant organization demonstrates that it has the capacity to undertake the project and complete it successfully within the stipulated time.

Confirmed grantees will be asked to develop a monitoring plan for their project. The Foundation will provide guidance and support to grantees on their monitoring plan.

Grantees who are implementing a one-year project will be asked to provide an end-of-project narrative report, along with a financial report. Grantees who are implementing a two-year project will submit a narrative and financial report at the end of the first year as well as an end-of-project narrative and financial report. Reporting schedules will be agreed upon between the grantee and the Foundation and set out in the grant agreement.



All additional documentation can be found at

If these documents do not contain an answer, please email the Foundation at [email protected]

See also: How to Apply for Commonwealth Graduate Internship 2021/2022

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