Eager to learn about new organizations or initiatives in its fields of intervention, the Foundation welcomes unsolicited requests for funding through a letter of inquiry or concept note that can be submitted though our online inquiry form or sent by email. Before submitting your application, please carefully review the information below and read about our programs to assess whether your organization or project meets the Foundation’s goals, funding priorities, and eligibility criteria. Details of our application, selection, and grant processes can be found below.
To promote a healthy, constructive, and safe public debate, our grantmaking activities are structured into two priority programs: public interest journalism and healthy digital public space. Through our exceptional engagement program, we also occasionally support the work of outstanding individuals who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to public interest.
Within our two priority programs, we fund and support both established non-profit organizations and innovative initiatives, whose common characteristics are a focus on systemic change, a willingness to act collaboratively to strengthen their field of activity, and a certain degree of boldness in their approach.
Our scope of action is international, with an emphasis on network, coalition, and field building. We thus favor, when warranted, multi-year support to offer partners the stability and continuity necessary to become well established in their ecosystem, create fruitful collaborations, and reach lasting impact.
Convinced that the challenges of our fast changing and complex times require joining forces from the donors’ community as well, we privilege collective investments with other foundations, through co-financing and matching grants. Going a step further, the Foundation is increasingly moving away from making itself decisions about funding specific projects to delegating such decisions to pooled funds or donor coalitions, whose governing bodies are composed of professionals of the sector, better qualified to make informed choices.
Types of support
We support the fundamental role of civil society and independent media organizations in safeguarding and revitalizing public debate. We provide different types and sizes of funding, depending on the needs. This includes:
- Networking, coalition, and field building support
- General operating support/flexible core funding
- Organizational capacity building support
- Program or project support
- Management and technical assistance support
To give grantees greater visibility and stability, we favor co-financing and multi-annual support when warranted. We are open to the use of various granting instruments: seed funding, bridge funding, matching grants, with a strong inclination for pooled funds.
In addition to financial support, we strive to provide non-monetary contribution as well, by acting as a positive critical partner and connecting grantees to our network when needed.
Eligibility and funding restrictions
The Foundation awards grants primarily to independent nonprofit organizations, associations, or foundations.
The Foundation does not fund the following:
- Individuals for any purpose (scholarship, personal project, etc.)
- Individual newsrooms or media outlets, very rare exceptions being independent reference watchdog publications or diffusion platforms of niche content, focused on under-covered specific public interest issues of international reach and promoting good governance, transparency, and accountability.
- Proposals that are purely academic and research focused
- Communication, marketing, or fundraising campaigns
- Festivals, exhibitions, or other public events
- The development of new technologies.
Our application process consists of two phases:
1. Initial inquiry: Eligible organizations are invited to submit via our online inquiry form or by email a letter of inquiry or concept note of 2-4 pages, briefly presenting the organization and outlining its project, what it expects to achieve and how it plans to measure its impact, together with a detailed budget, including secured and pending funding sources. These documents are reviewed internally to determine whether the project falls within our areas of focus and funding priorities and evaluate the organization’s implementation capacity. Applicants will generally hear back from the Foundation within six weeks after the initial request has been received.
2. Full application: If the outcome of the initial review is positive, organizations are invited to submit a full proposal, in which elements of the concept note are addressed in greater details. The full application is reviewed internally and with the help of external experts, if needed. If the outcome of this assessment is again positive, the funding request is submitted to the Board of the Foundation for final approval.
Applications can be submitted throughout the year with no specific deadline and can be written in French or English.
Board’s selection process
The Foundation strives to put its limited resources to use as efficiently as possible, for maximum impact. Projects submitted to the Board are therefore in competition with each other, with the comparative costs and potential benefits of proposed interventions being important factors in the Board’s decision process.
Thus, regardless of the volume of correspondence exchanged or the duration of the review stage, the Foundation’s Secretariat is never in a position to guarantee a positive outcome, as it is always the Board that makes the final decision.
The Foundation’s Board meets four times a year to review short-listed grant requests. Dates of Board meetings are not made public.
Within a month following the Board’s decision to award a grant, the recipient will receive a partnership agreement outlining the Foundation’s narrative and financial reporting requirements. No transfer of funds will be made until both parties have signed the agreement.
Grants are generally paid in installments. Details of the expected payment schedule will be included in the partnership agreement, subject to the recipient’s compliance with reporting requirements and satisfactory project progress.
Monitoring and evaluation
During partnership, we carefully monitor and evaluate project progresses, based on the objectives and development priorities agreed upon during the application process.
Recognizing that changing circumstances during grant period may call for amendments, we strive to always remain open to discussion and flexible. In return, we ask for transparent information about progress, the emergence of new opportunities or unexpected difficulties, and the planned adjustments.
At the end of the grant, in the final report, we pay particular attention to the lessons learned by our partners, the options they believe should be pursued and developed, and their assessment of how they could improve the overall effectiveness of their work.
If you are considering submitting an application, please carefully review our programs and Applying for a Grant page, as well as the following FAQs which provide answers to common questions about our funding areas, types of grants, grantmaking process, and deadlines. For any other questions or inquiries, please contact us here.
What does the Isocrates Foundation support?
Guided by its Statutes and mission, the Foundation focuses on protecting and promoting public debate. To do so, it has established specific program areas, with each its specific approach and funding priorities.
How do I know whether my project/organization may qualify for a grant?
To determine whether your project/organization may qualify for a grant, we strongly recommend that you first carefully read about our programs and Applying for a Grant page, in particular our funding priorities, eligibility criteria and funding restrictions sections. Before submitting a letter of inquiry, we also encourage you to review the present FAQs.
Do you make grants to individuals?
No, the Foundation does not make grants to individuals for any purpose (scholarship, personal or professional project, etc.), even if matching our interests and areas of intervention.
Can I contact or visit the Foundation to discuss my organization or project idea?
This website provides all the information you need to complete the first steps of the application process. We therefore kindly ask you to refrain from calling or visiting the Foundation’s offices. Visits to the Foundation are rarely necessary and only at our request.
How/where should I send my application?
In what language should I write my application?
The working languages of the Foundation are English and French.
Does the Foundation have application deadlines?
Applications are reviewed throughout the year, with no specific deadline.
What is the Foundation’s typical grant size? How much funding can I apply for?
There is no specified grant size: the Foundation determines the size of the grant based on the needs, quality, and specific nature of each project.
What is the typical duration of the Foundation’s grants?
The grant duration depends on the nature and the scope of the project, but typically ranges from 1 to 3 years. Depending on the progress of the project and the quality of the collaboration, a grant renewal may be considered through a new funding application.
Does the Foundation provide overhead/indirect costs?
With a focus on field development and system change, the Foundation is well aware of the need for overhead, general operational support, and flexible core funding to build strong and resilient actors in its areas of intervention. We therefore provide these types of support when warranted.
Does the Foundation require co-funding in grant applications?
Yes, we do ask for co-funding because working in collaboration with other foundations has many advantages for all parties involved. Not only does it increase the impact of our contribution, but it also reduces the recipient’s dependence on us or other funders. It also lends weight and sustainability to a particular initiative, contributes to the development of a shared vision and common agenda on the issues addressed by the concerned grantee and all funders, as well as fosters the development and sharing of knowledge, while remaining true to the lessons learned in the field.
Does the Foundation contact third parties as part of its review process?
Yes, the Foundation reserves the right to contact third parties for their opinion or assessment of any initial application or full project proposal it receives.
How and when will I know if my initial inquiry has been selected for further review or declined?
Within 6 weeks, you will be notified by email if your letter of inquiry/concept note has been selected for further consideration. If so, you will be invited to submit a full application, the details of which will be communicated to you. If, however, the Foundation concludes after reviewing your initial inquiry application that your project is not eligible for funding, we are unfortunately unable to provide you with detailed, personalized information about the reasons for this rejection. However, to the extent possible, we will do our best to briefly explain why your grant request was not successful.
I applied 6 weeks ago but have not heard back yet. What can I do?
If you have not heard from us within six weeks, please do not hesitate to email us to request information on the status of your application.
My project falls within the Foundation’s areas of focus. So why was my initial inquiry unsuccessful?
The Foundation strives to use its limited resources as efficiently as possible, for maximum impact. Given the large number of applications, the Foundation’s decision to consider a project for further review is based on its comparative qualities, costs and expected impact over other applications we receive, even when it aligns with our goals and requirements. Unfortunately, we are often faced with difficult choices.
My initial request has been selected for further review. What happens next?
We will invite you to submit a full project proposal and we will provide you with all the information necessary to complete this second step of the process. Please note that an invitation to submit a full project proposal does not indicate any intention or commitment to award a grant. After further review, the Secretariat submits a shortlist of projects to the Foundation’s Board, which always makes the final decision to award a grant.
How often does the Board meet? When will the next Board meeting take place?
The Board of the Foundation meets four times a year to review short-listed grant requests. Dates of Board meetings are not made public.
Why did the Board reject my grant request after several months of review by the Secretariat? Is feedback available for a declined application by the Board?
We receive a large number of quality applications. Unfortunately, due to limited funds, not all proposals selected by the Secretariat and presented to the Board receive funding. Therefore, no matter how many emails are exchanged with applicants or how long the review phase lasts, the Secretariat is never able to guarantee a positive outcome before the final decision of the Board. If your application is rejected at this final stage, however, we will do our best to provide you with constructive feedback on the Board’s decision.
My project has been approved by the Board for funding. What happens next?
Within one month of the Board’s decision to award you a grant, you will receive a partnership agreement outlining the Foundation’s narrative and financial reporting requirements. No transfer of funds will be made until both parties have signed the agreement. Grants are generally paid in installments. Details of the payment schedule will be included in the partnership agreement, subject to the recipient’s compliance with reporting requirements and satisfactory project progress.
My grant is coming to an end, can I request a renewal?
Yes, the Foundation may consider renewing its support if the partnership has been satisfactory to both parties and if the new objectives remain aligned. The application process for renewal is the same as for an initial grant.