Lifeline: The Embattled CSO Assistance Fund


ICNL is pleased to invite applications from civil society organizations (CSOs) for Lifeline grants to support short-term, discrete advocacy initiatives that seek to support civil society law reform.  Grant amounts may not exceed $20,000.  Applications should be submitted directly to ICNL as specified below.

ICNL is an international not-for-profit organization that promotes an enabling legal environment for civil society, freedom of association, and public participation around the world. ICNL has provided technical and research assistance to support the reform of laws affecting civil society organizations in over 100 countries. We draw upon a worldwide network of partners and experts to produce innovative research and analysis on legal topics affecting civil society.

ICNL is part of the civil society consortium led by Freedom House implementing Lifeline: the Embattled CSO Assistance Fund.  This call for applications is issued pursuant to the Lifeline Fund.

Application Instructions

To apply for a grant, applicants must submit the following items in English or Spanish:

  • Resume, curriculum vitae (CV), or other statement of work history and education (no more than three pages); and
  • Proposal (no more than three pages).

Content of Proposal

In three pages or less, please describe how you plan to support the reform of laws affecting civil society (i.e., the freedoms of association and/or assembly).  The advocacy activity may relate to efforts to advance enabling reform or to address a restriction or threat against civil society.  Please address the following topics:

  • Your experience on issues relating to civil society law;
  • The country or countries covered by your proposed activity;
  • The proposed activity plan and timeline, recognizing that the grant support is designed to support targeted, short-term activities;
  • The legal reform challenge or opportunity that your proposed activity seeks to address;
  • How the proposed activity plan will help advance enabling reform or address a restriction or threat against civil society;  
  • Specific goals and how you will measure results; and
  • The plan to sustain reform efforts beyond Lifeline Embattled NGO Fund grant support.

Please also attach a line-item budget (which does not count toward the 3-page limit for the proposal).

Eligibility Requirements

The Small Grants Program is open to civil society organizations engaged in civil society legal reform.  A civil society organization (CSO) is defined as a group of two or more activists.  It does not need to be officially registered but must be able to document its history of activism. The Lifeline supports a variety of CSOs, many of whom conduct advocacy, promote and protect human rights, and/or act in a watchdog capacity.

Selection Criteria

Applications will be evaluated based on the following factors:

  • Compliance with eligibility requirements and application procedures;
  • Demonstrated commitment of applicant to promoting the right to associate or civil society law reform (e.g., through past or present experience as a lawyer, academic, government official, or civil society organization leader working on these issues);
  • Quality of proposed project, including the significance of the issue, the proposed methodology/design, feasibility of the project (e.g., activities are targeted to achieve stated results, and anticipated results are realistic and attainable);
  • Likelihood that the proposed project will alleviate threats and restrictions against civil society;
  • Proposed budget and apparent value for cost; and
  • Proposal includes reasonable indicators to measure project success.

How to Apply

Interested applicants may apply by submitting their Application in English to Aparna Ravi by one of the following methods:

  • Email to;
  • Fax to : 202-452-8555; or
  • Mail to 1126 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036.

Terms of Reference

All grant recipients must submit a final report on the use of funds, activities conducted, and outcomes of their projects prior to receiving their final grant disbursements. All grant recipients must finalize their projects by August 31, 2013.


Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until all grant funds are awarded.