Reforms to development cooperation support for Finnish civil society
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland will no longer organise an annual application process for development cooperation funding for civil society actors. Instead, the application processes for the two largest support instruments will be organised in alternative years. This enables the current forms of support to be maintained, even though personnel resources in administration will be reduced.
Reforms to development cooperation support for civil society organisations and municipal actors have been prepared during the autumn. Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Lenita Toivakka introduced structural reforms to government aid for development cooperation for civil society at a discussion event on 25 November 2015. Nearly 140 representatives of organisations attended the event.
The purpose of the reforms is to further develop the process of granting government aid to organisations and facilitate interaction with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The reforms are necessary for operational and financial reasons.
A total of EUR 114 million is budgeted for development cooperation support for non-governmental organisations for 2015. The amount proposed for 2016 is EUR 65 million. The Finnish Parliament will decide on the budget in December 2015. The cuts in government aid will also result in personnel reductions at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and partly for this reason the forms of support need to be reformed.
In addition, the reforms enable the government’s new focus areas for development policy to be better considered when granting government aid. These focus areas include the status of women and girls, democracy, sustainable energy production and water and food safety, as well as encouraging enterprise and strengthening the tax base in developing countries.
A key element in reforming government aid for civil society organisations is that the Ministry will abandon annual application processes and the application processes for the two largest instruments will be organised in alternative years. This will enable all of the existing instruments to be maintained despite the reduction in personnel resources.
An equal application process for programme support
With regard to programme support for major partner organisations, the plan is for the programme periods to be shorter than usual in 2016 and 2017. This will lead to all organisations to apply for programme support simultaneously in 2017. The application process will concern the period 2018–2021.
An application process for programme support for all organisations is intended to be organised in 2021. In the future, the application process for programme support will be organised every four years (2017, 2021, etc.) for programme periods of four years instead of the current three years. The amount of self-financing required from applicants will be harmonised in the near future. The lower self-financing requirement for programmes concerning the disabled will remain unchanged.
Application process for project support every two years
An application process for project support for small and medium-sized organisations will be organised in spring 2016. After that, applications will be processed every two years (2018, 2020, etc.). The application process for project support also concerns municipal actors. Project support will not be granted for planning projects.
The terms, guidelines, criteria and forms related to project support will be updated before the next application process, which will begin in March 2016. In the future, a small portion of project support will not be paid until the final project report has been approved. The self-financing requirement will remain at 15% (7.5% for projects concerning the disabled). No more that 50% of the total amount may be covered through voluntary work or product or service donations.
Updated terms for support for communications projects and global education
An application process for support for communications projects and global education will be organised in spring 2016. After that applications will be processed every two years (2018, 2020, etc.). The terms, guidelines, criteria and forms related to support for communications projects and global education will be updated before the next application process, which will begin in March 2016. In the future, a small portion of the support will not be paid until the final project report has been approved. The self-financing requirement will be made consistent with that for project support. The self-financing requirement will be at least 10% of project expenses. No more that 50% of the total amount may be covered through voluntary work or product or service donations.
Core support and EU project support mainly unchanged
Core support for UN-related organisations will remain unchanged for the time being. This form of support and its relation to other instruments will be re-examined before the next application process, which will be organised in 2016.
National support for EU projects carried out by organisations will continue, and organisations will be encouraged to actively apply for EU funding. This form of support will be increased in 2016.
The application process for international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) is planned to be organised every two years (2017, 2019, etc.).
Pekka Puustinen, Director General, Department for Development Policy, tel. +358 (0)295 350 560, and Jyrki Nissilä, Director, Unit for Civil Society, tel. +358 (0)295 351 205.