Grant-making has been our primary channel for supporting civil society organizations in South Africa. Since our founding, we have developed extensive expertise, managing more than a thousand projects worth 21 million Euros as part of the Access to Justice Programme, and over 800 projects worth 18 million Euros as part of the SEJA Programme alone. We have reached community-based organizations in the most remote areas of the country in all nine provinces, thereby contributing to a more equal and diverse civil society in South Africa.

Grant-making as a service for other institutions

Why grant-making?

We believe that the provision of services and the realization of human rights is best done closest to the beneficiaries and the right-bearers. For this reason, we also believe that community-based organizations are in the best position to assist and provide services to the beneficiaries and right-bearers they know at the grass-root level. Grant-making has allowed us to address a variety of diverse human rights issues without being limited to just one thematic area. Most importantly, grant-making has enabled us to establish a network of community-based organizations and CSOs in the social justice and human rights sector with a nationwide footprint. We have worked with partners across all provinces, both in urban and rural areas, and this has allowed us to act as an interlocutor and convener between civil society and the government. Lastly, we fund CSOs through grant-making as we believe that only a thriving civil society is capable of holding government accountable.

What initiatives do we fund?

What types of grants do we offer?

Calls for proposals are a procurement method designed to encourage initiative on the part of civil society by describing the expected results to be achieved through the grants while still allowing civil society actors to independently suggest the means and methods by which such results should be achieved. These grants are allocated through a strict and transparent process and do not exceed ZAR 2 million.

A Targeted call grant is a procurement mechanism that is used to identify and/or appoint grantees or service providers where the FHR itself has determined the nature and scope of the services it requires and has called upon civil society organizations to express an interest in providing the service by way of application in response to the call.

The social justice and human rights sectors often have to respond to immediate human rights needs and initiatives at a grassroots or national level. This requires a certain level of flexibility in the funding process. Accordingly, the FHR introduced a system for discretionary funding of eligible projects relevant to our strategies. This expedites the grantmaking process while ensuring that the required level of transparency and accountability is observed. We therefore accept unsolicited proposals for funding up to R250 000 subject to approval by our Executive Director. In some circumstances discretionary grants may exceed ZAR 250 000, but in these cases the chain of approval requires the involvement of one or more FHR board members.

The Executive Director of the FHR has the discretion to fund projects considered to be ‘urgent’ to a maximum amount of R150 000. ‘Urgency’ is defined as “a situation where an initiative of strategic importance requires immediate action and cannot wait for Board approval, and where failure to take immediate action would adversely affect the human rights sector.”

Transparent and accountable processes

We have developed systems and put in place processes, to ensure the transparent and fair allocation of funds, accountability, and good governance in all our programmes. We have remained accountable to our donors, partners and constituencies through regular reporting and audits, at the same time ensuring that our grantees are capable of financial accountability and are enabled to successfully implement their projects. This has allowed us to successfully manage and implement a number of constitutional rights programmes, with the Socio-Economic Justice for All (SEJA) Programme being the most recent. Our Grants Unit and Programme Management Unit work together to ensure that all processes are followed and respected.

What principles guide our grant-making?

  • Sustainability 
  • Plurality and diversity 
  • Partnerships
  • Transparency and fairness 
  • Relevance of proposed interventions
  • Flexibility 
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Capacity
  • Accountability

Grant-Making Contact

For any queries related to grant-making, please contact:

Dr Zaid Kimmie
Knowledge Management Manager

Ms Elizabeth Matare
GPR Coordinator for Programmes and Grants Unit

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