The Embattled CSO Assistance Fund

ICNL is proud to be a part of the civil society consortium led by Freedom House that implements Lifeline the Embattled CSO Assistance Fund. With the support of nineteen governments and two foundations, the fund assists civil society organizations under threat or attack.

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How to apply for a Lifeline Grant

ICNL accepts applications for advocacy support and resiliency support on a rolling basis. A preliminary application for Lifeline support may be found here (as a form) or here (as a Word document). For more information or to submit an application, please contact Please note that applicants will only be contacted regarding applications selected for further consideration.

Lifeline provides three forms of assistance:

Advocacy Grants

ICNL issues Lifeline advocacy grants, which aim to support organizations’ efforts to push back against threats to civic freedoms. Advocacy grants support short-term initiatives that identify challenges, such as threats to freedom of association, assembly, and expression or attacks on civil society, and target key actors associated with the resolution of these threats. These grants are highly flexible and can support a wide variety of activities, including community mobilization, policy and legal analysis, coalition building, strategic litigation, awareness-raising campaigns, and capacity building in advocacy.

Resiliency Grants

Lifeline resiliency grants help organizations’ operate in high-risk environments, supporting proactive efforts to avoid or mitigate threats. The grants support an array of activities, including developing networks and local support mechanisms to protect civil society actor; access to pro bono legal services; implementing joint protection strategies; sharing resiliency strategies on a national, regional, or international level; helping disrupted organizations re-establish their work; building capacity to recognize risks in advance; and providing protection training and legal technical assistance.

Emergency Grants

Through Freedom House and Front Line Defenders, Lifeline provides small, short-term emergency assistance to organizations threatened because of their human rights work. Emergency assistance grants can address security needs, medical expenses, legal representation, prison visits, trial monitoring, temporary relocation, equipment replacement, and other urgently needed expenses. To apply for Lifeline emergency assistance, please contact Freedom House or Front Line Defenders as described here.

Additional resources and opportunities:

Advocacy in Restricted Spaces Toolkit

The Advocacy in Restricted Spaces toolkit is a practical resource that emphasizes that advocacy is possible even in highly restrictive contexts. Created by the Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund, the toolkit is intended for use by grassroots, national, and regional organizations that want to engage in advocacy in restrictive environments. It includes concrete examples and new perspectives on mobilizing around opportunities for change. While many advocacy resources are oriented toward groups operating in functioning democracies where basic freedoms are respected, this toolkit provides real-world examples of how civil society can be effective even under significant duress. Visit the Freedom House website to learn more.

Reanimating Civil Society

This guide, created by Lifeline, is meant to support activists, civil society organizations, and social movements who want to explore tactics and strategies to respond to smear campaigns or negative stereotypes by creating new, positive narratives to counter them. It provides a framework for thinking about narrative change, with examples and resources. This resource is designed as a stepping stone for crafting campaigns. The guide is available on Lifeline’s website and can be downloaded here.