Support to civil society is a key priority for the EEA and Norway Grants 2014 - 2021, funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway in 15 EU Member States in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics. Ten percent of the total country allocations are set aside for a programme for civil society in each beneficiary state, called Active Citizens Fund, which in Romania has a total allocation of 46,000,000 euro. For further information about the EEA and Norway Grants 2014 - 2021, visit www.eeagrants.org.

The Active Citizens Fund is established under the priority sector ‘Culture, Civil Society, Good Governance and Fundamental Rights and Freedoms’, one of five priority sectors agreed between the donor states and the European Union. The fund shall contribute to the overall objectives of the EEA and Norway Grants, to reduce economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area and to strengthen bilateral relations between the beneficiary countries and donor states.

Total allocation for Romania for 2014 - 2021 financing period is of €502 million (for a total number of 12 financing programmes) based on the Memorandums of Understanding signed on October 13, 2016 between the Government of Romania and the Donor States. More information on the EEA and Norway Grants in Romania can be found on www.eeagrants.ro.


The Active Citizens Fund (ACF) Romania has a total allocation of 46,000,000 euro. The objective of the programme is strengthening civil society and active citizenship and empowering vulnerable groups.

Based on the common values of respect of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the respect for human rights including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, the fund shall seek to develop the long-term sustainability and capacity of the civil society sector, strengthening its role in promoting democratic participation, active citizenship, and human rights, while strengthening bilateral relations with the donor states Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The following Areas of Support are eligible:

  • Democracy, active citizenship, good governance and transparency;
  • Human rights and equal treatment through combating any discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation or gender identity;
  • Social justice and inclusion of vulnerable groups;
  • Gender equality and gender-based violence;
  • Environment and climate change;
  • Developing NGOs’ capacity.

In light of the importance of feedback from the civil society stakeholders in shaping the ACF in Romania, a consultation process took place during summer of 2018.

A stakeholder’s consultation was jointly organized on July 3, 2018, by the Financial Mechanism Office (FMO) - the Brussels based secretariat of the EEA and Norway Grants - and the Fund Operator for the Active Citizens Fund in Romania.

The consultation gathered 38 representatives of Romanian non-governmental organizations, working in the areas of support of the Active Citizens Fund. The majority of the participants represented networks/platform/coalitions of NGOs with members from all over the country, with diverse experience of operations (organizations that have long and relatively short timeline of operations), with different size according to their annual budget and personnel hired, working with diverse target groups (e.g., vulnerable groups, people with disabilities, Roma and other minorities as applicable, youth, volunteers). Small NGOs, working in remote areas were present, as well as other donors working on capacity building and sustainability of the civil society sector.

The stakeholder consultation provided the space for participants to interact, share ideas, debate, and agree on main civil society concerns and expectations related to the Programme as well as to identify and reflect on the ways to address the challenges in the country to obtain impact through the ACF. The conclusions from the working groups broadly validated the challenges identified by the Consortium and the proposed outcomes of the Programme. The summary of the stakeholders’ consultation meeting is available herePrior to the stakeholders’ consultation meeting there was carried out an online consultation, from 13 of June 2018 until 29 of June 2018 and the results of this survey can be found here..

The Active Citizens Fund will strengthen civil society capacity in Romania to better activate citizens and empower underserved vulnerable groups, and engage them in solving the identified needs of the civil society in Romania through eleven open Calls for Proposals (CfP) and two pre-defined projects (PDP), covering all five areas of support and capacity building of the sector, as well as through enhancing bilateral cooperation and mutual exchange of expertize, tools, good practices with entities from donor states and strengthening cross-border cooperation and solidarity in the civil society sector.

The supported projects will contribute to the following 4 Outcomes:

  • Outcome 1 – Strengthened democratic culture and civic awareness
  • Outcome 2 – CSOs actively defend human rights and promote equal treatment
  • Outcome 3 – Vulnerable groups are empowered
  • Outcome 4 – Enhanced capacity and sustainability of civil society (organizations and the sector)

In addition to these outcomes, under the Programme is supported the collaboration between Romanian and Donor State entities involved in the Programme (Bilateral Outcome) as well as the regional (cross-border) cooperation in the civil society sector (Regional Civil Society Initiatives Outcome).

The grants will be awarded through 11 Calls for proposals with strict accession and evaluation rules and criteria detailed in the respective Guidelines for applicants for each Call.

OutcomeCall for proposalsLaunching date of the Call/ estimated dateAllocated amount
Strengthened democratic culture and civic awareness#1 Civic participation in underserved areas December 2019 Ongoing application1,500,000 euro
Strengthened democratic culture and civic awareness#2 Civic education and engagement December 2019 (Round 1)800,000 euro
Strengthened democratic culture and civic awareness#2 Civic education and engagement Quarter 1 - 2021 (Round 2)829,200 euro
Strengthened democratic culture and civic awareness#3 Civic activism and advocacy December 2019 (Round 1)7,700,000 euro
Strengthened democratic culture and civic awareness#3 Civic activism and advocacy Quarter 1 - 2021 (Round 2) 3,000,000 euro
CSOs actively defend human rights and promote equal treatment#4 Awareness on human rights and equal treatment December 2019 Ongoing application1,000,000 euro
CSOs actively defend human rights and promote equal treatment#5 Strategic Support for Human Rights and Equal TreatmentDecember 2019 (Round 1)5,250,000 euro
CSOs actively defend human rights and promote equal treatment#5 Strategic Support for Human Rights and Equal TreatmentQuarter 1 - 2021 (Round 2) 1,754,391 euro
Vulnerable groups are empowered#6 Mobilizing vulnerable groups in underserved areas December 2019 Ongoing application 1,500,000 euro
Vulnerable groups are empowered#7 Advocating for social inclusion of vulnerable groups December 2019 (Round 1)5,600,000 euro
Vulnerable groups are empowered#7 Advocating for social inclusion of vulnerable groups Quarter 1 - 2021 (Round 2) 2,400,000 euro
Vulnerable groups are empowered#8 Development of rural interethnic communitiesDecember 2019 (Round 1)3,150,000 euro
Vulnerable groups are empowered#8 Development of rural interethnic communitiesQuarter 1 - 2021 (Round 2) 1,350,000 euro
Capacitate crescută și sustenabilitate a societății civilie (organizații și sector)#9 Diversifying funding sourcesAugust 20201,500,000 euro
Capacitate crescută și sustenabilitate a societății civilie (organizații și sector)#10 Awareness Campaigns on civil societyQuarter 3 2021780,000 euro
Capacitate crescută și sustenabilitate a societății civilie (organizații și sector)#11 Strategic support for capacity building of NGOsAugust 20201,750,000 euro

More details on each of these Calls are available in their respective Guidelines for Applicants available at: https://activecitizensfund.ro/apeluri/.

Besides the grants, under the Programme is implemented a Pre-defined project called Program3, more details about it can be found at https://activecitizensfund.ro/trillenials/.


ACF Romania is administered by a Consortium composed of Civil Society Development FoundationRomanian Environmental Partnership FoundationResource Center for Roma CommunitiesPACT Foundation and Frivillighet Norge (The Association of NGOs in Norway), appointed by the FMO as Fund Operator in an open and competitive tender process and is responsible for the development and implementation the fund. The Programme Implementation Agreement was signed on 16 May 2019.

Civil Society Development Foundation (FDSC) is an independent, non-governmental organization set up in 1994 following an initiative of the European Commission. FDSC promotes a strong and sustainable civil society that contributes to the defense of democratic values by supporting civil society actors, mobilizing resources, advocating for an enabling environment for civil society, and enhancing stakeholders’ cooperation. More details at www.fdsc.ro.

The Romanian Environmental Partnership Foundation (REPF) is an independent non-profit organization established in 1999 as a foundation with the purpose of supporting the improvement of the environment in Romania by contributing to the formation of a sustainable society that enhances democratic values. The main objectives are to support citizens’ involvement to identify, prevent and solve community problems by ensuring financial and capacity building support for environmental protection and community development organizations. More details at www.repf.ro.

The Resource Center for Roma Communities (RCRC) is an independent non-governmental organization set up in 1999 with the mission to contribute at improving life conditions of the Roma communities in Romania, through direct working with Roma communities and actively engaging them in designing, implementing and evaluating the Roma programmes. More details at www.romacenter.ro.

PACT Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 2006, active in the field of community development. PACT’s mission is to support the sustainable development of communities by encouraging, growing and promoting local and regional initiatives, partnerships and social responsibility at individual, corporate, authorities and institutional level. More details at www.fundatiapact.ro.

Frivillighet Norge (FN) is an umbrella organization for the voluntary sector in Norway, founded in 2005. The association’s mission is to coordinate the voluntary sector’s dialogue with the authorities on common issues to the voluntary sector, and to voice the voluntary sector’s opinions to the public and the authorities. Currently, the Association of NGOs in Norway consists of more than 300 member organizations (representing around 50,000 country-wide local groups), including all sectors of society. More details at www.frivillighetnorge.no.


Under the previous programming period (2009-2014) the NGO Fund in Romania contributed to the strengthening of civil society development through enhancing contribution to social justice, democracy, sustainable development and has been the most important source of funding for activities of promoting and defending human rights.

With a financial allocation of more than EUR 36 million Euros, 390 projects were financed through the Programme at national level. In total, more than 3 million people were involved in project activities.

In the context of reduced involvement among Romanians, the projects encouraged the participation of citizens: 100 civic groups were supported or formed and responded to local concerns; more than 123,000 people were involved in the decision-making process, and 24,500 in voluntary activities.

Combating poverty, inequality and social exclusion has been one of the funding priorities of the Programme. In total, 150 new social services were established, and more than 28,000 people benefited from social and basic services, health services, education, employment, cultural and recreational activities. Also, for the support of vulnerable groups, 100 projects have carried out activities to include Roma people.

More information about the financial allocation to the Programme and the distribution of funds towards the Programme’s components through the Call for proposals, as well as the results obtained within the NGO FUND in Romania can be found here.

  • The interactive map of the funded projects can be consulted here
  • Details of the 390 funded projects can be found here: Round 1 and Round 2
  • The results of the program can be consulted here
  • The brochure with some of the most relevant results and best practices can be found here
  • The concept of the Spirit of Dugnad explained can be watched here

Beyond numbers and reports, the NGO Fund in Romania was about people. There is a lot to tell. About the experience of the 3 million people involved in the projects. About volunteer hours totaling 125 years of volunteer work. There is certainly something left to say about what happened in the over 400 rural localities and and 100 cities. About the over 28,000 people who benefited from social and basic services and the over 4,000 interactions with public institutions. This program includes stories about people who shaped the involvement even when the conditions were not exactly favorable. When mentalities were against them, or the institutions did not listen to them.