Civil Society Grant Facility

Overview of the Grant Fund Facility

This guideline has been developed to assist Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), including Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) to apply for grant funding under the European Union (EU) funded Project ‘CSOs as Actors in Good Governance and Development’ (CSOsAct4Dev) implemented by Helvetas Bhutan and Bhutan Media Foundation.

The credibility and integrity of the Grant Fund Facility relies on putting in place transparent, accountable, and inclusive grant management structures and decision‐making processes. A dual decision-making process and strong mechanisms for checks and balances has been instituted through the establishment of a Sub Grant Committee (SGC) to assess and recommend project proposals and a Project Steering Committee for final approval and endorsement.

The Grant Fund will be complemented by capacity building using different approaches from training, mentoring, peer exchanges and technical assistance. The access to grants to implement activities upon their right of initiative, combined with enhanced skills to engage with policy makers and the brokering of spaces will enhance CSOs’ ability to advocate and enter into dialogues with the Parliament and relevant state agencies, particularly the CSO Authority, ultimately leading to a strengthened role of civil society in Bhutan, in line with relevant EU policies and those embraced by Bhutan.

What are the Objectives of the Grant Fund?

The objectives of the Grant Fund to CSOs will be three-fold:

  • To strengthen CSO contributions on the lives of vulnerable groups, particularly women, youth, persons with disabilities, and the LGBTQI+ community and groups whose vulnerabilities have been worsened by COVID-19.
  • To enable piloting of sustainable revenue models, including public-private partnerships.
  • To support research applicable to the Bhutan CSO context that could contribute to future policy advocacy.
Who Can Apply?

The types of eligible entities include:

TypeEligibility Criteria
CSOs and NGOs– Be duly registered with the CSO Authority.
– Is an active CSO/NGO in Bhutan.
– Does not have an ongoing project through this grant making window.
– Contributes to the achievement of governance goals and SDGs.
– Demonstrates commitment towards improving the situation of either women, youth, persons with disabilities or other vulnerable groups.
– Has sound credentials in financial management.
Community based groups, associations, organizations– Farmer groups and cooperatives registered under the Cooperatives’ Act of Bhutan or recognized under other state policies (eg. forest management groups, water users’ groups)
– Non-registered but organized groups and associations (eg. youth groups, women’s networks, membership based bodies).
– Is known in the community in the case of non-registered groups and associations.
CSO networks, alliances, consortia– Be a network/alliance/consortium of CSOs in Bhutan.
– Minimum of 3 members in the network/alliance/consortia.
– Contributes to the achievement of governance goals and SDGs.
– Demonstrates commitment towards enhancing the situation of civil society in Bhutan.

*Government bodies, for-profit entities, and individuals are not eligible to apply.

What are the Eligible Areas for Support?

In line with the objectives of the Grant Fund, CSOs may submit proposals under the following categories:

  1. Socioeconomic empowerment initiatives for vulnerable groups, especially women, youth, Persons with Disabilities and the LGBTQI+ community and groups whose vulnerabilities have been worsened by COVID-19 in pursuing:
    • Advocacy actions AND/OR
    • Sustainable social enterprises.
  2. Sustainable revenue models under:
    • Innovative ideas to enhance revenue sources for CSOs AND/OR;
    • Public-private partnerships.
  3. Research applicable to the Bhutan CSO context that could contribute to future policy advocacy.

Eligible activities may include events, studies and research, publications, panel discussions, media engagement, and other initiatives that are clearly aimed at meeting objectives under the core categories.

Other eligible and ineligible costs include the following:

Eligible CostIneligible Cost
– Any costs related to services and work related to the activities approved in the proposal.
– Costs approved in the proposal budget. – Costs that is verifiable. This means that the costs are recorded in the accounting ledgers of the applicant using standard accounting procedures.
– Profit-generating projects, unless these are social enterprises where funds are ploughed back into the CSOs/CBOs.
– Scholarships to support educational opportunities or studies.
– Projects that support electoral campaigns of political parties and/or individuals.
– Projects that support religious activities.Other capital expenditures unrelated to economic empowerment initiative (e.g., vehicles, etc.).
– Costs already covered by other projects.
– Taxes, unless approved in the proposal budget.
– Contributions in kind.Depreciation.Provisions for future liabilities.
– Debts and debt‐service charges.
– Any credits to third parties.
– Fines, financial penalties, and any litigation costs.
– Personal expenses.
– Any additional fees and charges from the applicant’s staff and management for services such as overtime, holiday pay, vacation pay, gift reimbursement, unauthorized travel, and housing expenses.
How are Proposals Assessed?
1) Eligibility Criteria:

The Sub-Grant Committee (SGC) will conduct an initial screening of the grant proposals based on the eligibility criteria below:

  • Submission of documents as per the requirements stated in the announcement including:
    • A valid certificate of registration for CSOs.
    • Letter of recommendation from relevant agencies and/or the Gup (elected county head) in the community/county/district for CBOs.
  • Adherence to the budget ceiling (Maximum EUR 10,000 and 10% of the total cost for administrative expenses) and duration of 18 months as per the CFP.
2) Assessment Criteria:

The SGC will assess and score the grant project proposals based on the criteria below. Based on the scores assigned, the SGC will rank and determine the proposals to be ‘recommended’ or ‘not recommended’ to the PSC.

CriteriaGuiding QuestionsScore
Relevance– Is there congruence with the project objectives?
– Does it correspond to the theme/s of the Grant Fund?
– Does the project idea converge with the experiences and expertise of the applicant organization?
Coherence and Clarity– Is the problem statement clear?
– Are the expected results and activities clearly linked?
– Can the objectives be realistically achieved within the implementing context, project timeframe, and capacities of the applicant?
– To what extent has the proposal assessed potential risks and identified mitigation measures?
Strength of Gender and Social Equity– Does it include and address the needs of marginalized and vulnerable groups, including those affected by COVID-19?
– To what extent has gender equality and women’s empowerment been considered?
Value for Money– Is the ratio of activity costs to administration costs appropriate?
– Are the project inputs priced reasonably?
Sustainability and Scalability– Is the proposal idea innovative or contains elements of innovation to address financial sustainability?
– To what extent can the idea be sustained beyond the project period?
– Does the applicant group/organization have a track record of project implementation and management, including financial management of a similar funding level?
When to Apply?

The entire grant application process from call to proposal to project completion, will follow the following steps:

What is the Eligible Budget and Duration of Projects?

Applicants may apply for grants with a floor level funding of EURO 5,000 and a ceiling of EURO 10,000. The implementation period for grants shall be for a maximum period of 18 months.

The budget floor and ceiling were determined based on past experiences with grants spending capacities of Civil Society groups and organizations, and minimal requirements to carry out an event based on approximate actual costs in the country.

Administrative costs shall not exceed 10% of total project costs. All administrative‐related costs over and above 10% must be financed by the CSO from sources of funds outside of the grant.

How and Where to Apply?

Project proposals can be submitted in either English or Dzongkha and must follow the Grant application formats. Proposals that do not follow the outline of the application formats and that are received after the deadline will not be accepted. The project proposal shall be accompanied by:

  • A valid certificate of registration for CSOs
  • A letter of recommendation from the head of a relevant statutory agency and/or the Gup (elected county head) in the community/county/district for CBOs

Applications shall either be emailed to or sent via post to:


P.O. Box 157, Changangkha

11001 Thimphu, Bhutan

Phone +975 2 32 28 70

Should applicants have any further queries that are not covered in the guideline, kindly contact the Project Manager at

How to File a Grievance or Complaint?

Should an applicant have a grievance or complaint during any step of the grant management cycle, a path to make an official complaint can be made to the Country Director at

Grievances or complaints shall be in written and signed by the complainant. Every effort will be made to ensure protecting that person’s identity (if they wish) and by keeping the content confidential. All grievance and complaint submissions shall be acknowledged by a return call to the person filing the claim, within one day of receipt of the complaint.

For conflicts of interest that may arise for those assessing, reviewing and endorsing the proposals, the same shall be declared to ensure the integrity of the assessment and decision-making process. Any member of the SGC or the PSC who declares a conflict of interest with respect to an application will not participate in the deliberations and decisions concerning that application.