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What EU funding is available for non-profit organisations?

As non-profit organisations are not profit-oriented, they are eligible for a wide range of European funding. Indeed, the absence of profit is one of the sine qua non conditions to benefit from these grants. Nevertheless, given the multitude of grants and financial instruments available at EU level, it is in their interest to target the European fund or programme most relevant to their project in order to claim the maximum amount of funding. Among the European funding available to associations and non-governmental organisations, some are more suitable for projects of local scope, while others are more naturally targeted at the global level.

Projects with a local scope

For local initiatives, associations are invited to turn to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESF). Indeed, insofar as their vocation is to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion, they finance many projects that are beneficial at the local level for the territory, employment or the environment by directly responding to the priority objectives of the territories in question. There are five ESFs, the management of which has been allocated to the Member States, within the 2021-2027 programming period, namely the European Regional Economic Development Fund (ERDF) the European Social Fund (ESF) the European Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Fund (EMAF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Cohesion Fund (CF). It should be noted, however, that in France, the State has decided to entrust the management of part of these funding programmes to the regional councils, which have become managing authorities since the Maptam law of 2014.

Sector-specific initiatives and beyond the local level

For initiatives that concern a particular sector and go beyond the local level, thematic funding programmes are to be preferred. Directly managed by the European Commission or its executive agencies, these programmes aim to promote and ensure the successful implementation of EU policies through calls for proposals. Among the best-known sectoral programmes are Erasmus+, Europe Creative, Horizon Europe, LIFE, the European Defence Fund, EU4Health and Digital Europe.

Projects addressing development issues in non-EU countries in non-EU countries

Finally, for projects relating to development issues in countries outside the EU, it is advisable to consult external action funds such as the Neighbourhood, Development Cooperation and International Cooperation Instrument, the European Development Fund for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific or the instruments contributing to stability and peace. Indeed, the European Union also supports projects outside its geographical borders because of its desire to be a major player in the world by supporting developing countries.

Most of the calls for proposals issued by these funds concern associations. However, it is important to check their eligibility in the documents relating to the call for projects selected.


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Chloé Bartsch – Cassiopée Dhrami


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