Commonwealth Responsive Grants

Commonwealth Foundation



Commonwealth Foundation's responsive grants are designed to promote international or intercultural exchange, co-operation and sharing of skills, knowledge and ideas between people from developing Commonwealth countries.

Hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) around the Commonwealth benefit from responsive grants. Commonwealth Foundation award funding of up to £12,500, although the average award is about £5,000. In exceptional cases, we can award grants of up to £25,000. They support activities such as short training courses, workshops, conferences, festivals, study visits or voter education activities.


Commonwealth Foundation grants are awarded in order to strengthen NGOs working in one or more of their four programme areas:



        Governance and Democracy

        Human Development

        Communities and Livelihoods


Commonwealth Foundation's current programme priorities include:


·                Culture

-                    Culture and creativity

-                    Peace building


·                Governance and Democracy

-                    Governance

-                    Voter Education


·                Human Development

-                    HIV and AIDS

-                    Disability


·                Communities and Livelihoods

-                    Natural resources

-                    Climate change


How much Commonwealth Foundation Gives?


You can apply for up to £12,500.  In exceptional cases, the Foundation can award grants of up to £25,000.  The average award is about £5,000. Applications for grants of over £12,500 must be considered by the Foundation's Grants Committee which meets biannually in September and March.  


The Foundation prefers not to be the sole funder of projects.


What Commonwealth Foundation can pay for?


Their grants are for activities that involve the participation of people and NGOs from more than one developing Commonwealth Foundation member country. Commonwealth Foundation can pay for the costs of supporting participants or resource people in activities. This often includes the cost of airfares, accommodation and subsistence, though they will also contribute towards the monitoring, evaluation and reporting of an activity.  Up to 15% of the award can be spent on administration costs and overheads. 


Activities they typically support include training courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, cultural festivals, exchanges and study visits.


In exceptional cases, Commonwealth Foundation award grants for activities that take place within one country, though you should be able to demonstrate that your activity:


-        relates closely to their priority areas;

-        is linked to other national initiatives;

-        involves an aspect of intercultural exchange; and

-        is likely to generate learning that can be shared at a Commonwealth level.


The direct beneficiaries of NGO activity must be at least 50% women.


Beneficiaries should be people who:


-        are young (35 years old or under) or mid-career staff;

-        are working in NGOs, or are cultural practitioners; and

-        are in a position to transfer their learning to others.


What Commonwealth Foundation can not pay for?


·        projects where the majority of the budget is capital costs;

·        projects lasting longer than one year: the Foundation prefers to support short initiatives;

·        participation by citizens of developed countries;

·        exchanges between developed countries;

·        training courses taking place in a university in a developed country;

·        academic study or academic research;

·        presentation of papers at academic conferences;

·        the publication of books and films; and

·        the participation of students, government employees, the private sector or political parties.


No NGO is allowed to hold two Commonwealth Foundation grants in the same 12 month period.


Where Commonwealth Foundation does fund?


It gives priority to activities taking place in developing countries which are members of the Commonwealth Foundation.  If an activity is taking place in a developed country, you will need to make a strong case for (a) the choice of country and (b) the clear benefits being achieved for developing country participants.


Who can apply?


Your organisation must be:

-                    registered or incorporated as 'non-profit' NGO, cultural or human rights organisation, trade union or social enterprise;

-                    engaged in work relevant to Commonwealth values, strategic objectives and priorities;

-                    able to demonstrate accountability and good governance;

-                    able to provide evidence of obtaining funding from sources other than the Foundation.


They expect all applicants to submit the following information with their application form:


-        annual report;

-        audited accounts;

-        full budget in GBP for the activity;

-        a breakdown of what you are requesting from the Foundation;

-        a programme and list of participants where relevant.


When to apply ?


There are four grant application rounds per year. The deadlines for the rounds are 31 December, 31 March, 30 June and 30 September.


You should hear from the Foundation about eight weeks after the deadline whether your application has been successful or not. Funding will not be transferred until at least 12 weeks after application.


Grant Applications

Commonwealth Foundation

Marlborough House, Pall Mall

London SW1Y 5HY

United Kingdom

For more info email to:


The NGO Funding Consultants