The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) is an independent, grant-making organisation, established in 2013 by the European Union and EU member states as an autonomous International Trust Fund to foster democracy in the European Neighbourhood (Eastern Partnership – EaP – and Middle East and North Africa – MENA), the Western Balkans, and beyond.
EED supports civil society organisations, pro-democracy movements, civic and political activists, and independent media platforms and journalists working towards a pluralistic, democratic political system. These can also include newly created or non-registered organisations, informal platforms, youth groups and individuals. In particular, EED supports those who cannot be supported by other donors and existing EU instruments. Support is contingent on adherence to democratic values, respect for human rights and observance of principles of non-violence.
EED supports media to develop, survive and grow as independent and quality communication channels, which are essential to ensure media pluralism and public access to independent and alternative information. EED focuses on ‘supporting the unsupported’ and filling gaps in other donor assistance, with support ranging from from start-ups to more established media, to individual bloggers and digital platforms, from satirists to innovative news and information outlets.
Support comes through grant funding to a wide range of initiatives to help sustain and develop independent news outlets, assist journalists and media outlets operating in repressive environments, or support new media.
There is no formal funding range. Requests for support tend to be between €10,000 and €150,000, but grants have been provided both below and above that range. On average, EED support is typically in the range of €40,000 to €60,000.
Last year, the Eastern Partnership region accounted for 32% of all initiatives funded by EED, and approximately one-third of EED’s total funding portfolio is media-related. EED support particularly aims to fill gaps in areas that are not supported by other donors.
EED also supports emerging media outlets using new technologies and social media in innovative ways. It has also helped more established news outlets to diversify their output, including through online products such as podcasts. EED provides struggling media outlets with the core funding as well as resources to continue in-depth investigative journalism. Support has also been given to organisations providing legal aid to journalists and promoting freedom of expression.
Projects currently funded include ZMIST a non-partisan grassroots online media portal created by a young team from the Ukrainian city of Poltava, independent ProTV in Moldova, which has received an EED grant to ensure its continuous operation during the upcoming parliamentary and municipal elections, and the Journalists for Human Rights NGO, which sheds light on violations that occur within military institutions in Armenia by producing investigative articles.
The Creative Content Support Fund, a project hosted by EED since its inception in 2016, contributes to enhancing media credibility and balance in the Eastern Partnership countries and beyond, by strengthening the independent Russian language media offer in the region. To date the Content Fund has provided more than 100 grants to 20+ media platforms representing €6.4 million. 2019 marked a new phase in the development of the Content Fund, when it was registered as a non-profit foundation in Belgium. EED continues to remain engaged in the work of the fund and sits on its Board of Governors. To find out more about the Content Fund grants, how to apply and supported projects, visit the website.
Twenty-three European countries that are members of the Board of Governors and the European Commission contribute to the EED budget. Canada has contributed through a special grant for Ukraine.
EED funds any relevant local media, including bloggers, digital platforms, TV stations, radio stations and other independent news and information outlets.
EED can support individuals and non-registered groups as well as established media, and it can also support operational costs (salaries, office and communications costs).
Applying for support is very simple. Visit the EED website and click on ‘Apply for Support’ to be directed to the secure application portal where you can find the application form and guidelines.
EED reviews requests for support on a rolling basis, so applicants can submit their proposals at any time – there are no calls for applications and no deadlines.
Applicants whose security is particularly at risk can use a separate secured system to encrypt and submit their application directly to email@example.com.
EED works to strengthen media pluralism and improve access to credible news and critical comment to people denied reliable information. It specialises in cases where the space for civil society is shrinking because of administrative, legal, social, and political barriers, and it accepts significant political and operational risks as part of its operations.
Its distinctive niche lies in its capacity to operate in difficult, often dangerous environments that are off limits to other donors, and EED particularly aims to fill gaps in areas not supported by other donors, often working with small, fledgling groups that typify democratic movements in the early phases and helping them to build up their capacity to apply for larger funding schemes.
EED supported initiatives often include support for independent media who are experimenting with innovative ideas, reaching specific segments of society and contributing to media plurality. Depending on the context, support may also be provided to professional independent media operating in environments where they face an uphill struggle to survive.
EED is open to applications from independent meda who are seeking resources to facilitate launching new media organisations or products, or who need support to develop or survive, and do not have access to other forms of donor funding can apply here for EED support.
Media organisations or individuals can apply directly via the EED website at www.democracyendowment.eu. There is no funding cycle, and funding applications are received and considered at any time.
You will receive an automatic email message to confirm receipt of your application, and EED programme managers will revert to media organisations for further information as part of a rigorous vetting procedure of applicants. EED seeks to give applicants a final answer within 12 weeks.
Funding decisions are made by the EED Executive Committee at its regular meetings following an assessment made by the EED secretariat in line with the organisational mandate. As far as possible, EED observes a geographical balance in the allocation of funds between the southern and eastern neighbourhoods.
In exceptional situations, EED may process a limited number of requests on an urgent basis. To request emergency support, you should tick the box at the bottom and provide a brief explanation as to why your request is urgent, and the potential consequences if you do not receive funding urgently.
Funding of media outlets represents around one third of all initiatives supported by EED. More comprehensive information on media outlets who have received funding is available on EED’s website.
For more information about and examples of EED support for media, download SUPPORTING MEDIA FOR DEMOCRACY, a report on EED's work in the area of independent media.
Many EED grantees carry out media activities such as trainings, conferences and workshops and apply to EED for a grant for these activities. EED does not directly provide such technical assistance.