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NGOs and Civil Society

The growth of civil society has been one of the most significant trends in international development.  Partnerships between governments, businesses and civil society organizations (CSOs) are now one of the most effective ways to raise standards of living and achieve sustainable development. 

Civil society organizations (CSOs) play a critical role in helping to amplify the voices of the poor in the decisions that affect their lives.

The World Bank recognizes the important role that CSOs play in meeting the challenges of development and welcomes the opportunity to work with civil society.

This site is dedicated to information on ongoing policy consultations, funding sources, operational partnerships, and other development-related issues in FYR Macedonia.

Funding for Civil Society Organizations

Small Grants Program

The World Bank Civil Society Fund (CSF) is one of several facilities or programs supported by the World Bank that provides grants to NGOs and other organizations of civil society.


The CSF aims to make development more inclusive and equitable by providing funds for activities that support the civic engagement of marginalized and vulnerable groups.


Accordingly, grants focus on empowering people who have been historically excluded from society's decision-making processes, such as women, youth, people from racial and ethnic groups, people with low-income, and people from rural areas.


They also aim to enhance partnerships with key players in support of the development process. Key players could include government agencies, civil society organizations, multilateral and bilateral agencies, foundations, and the private sector.


The Small Grants Program is administered by the World Bank Country office and makes decisions once a year by June.

The Program is funded by the Development Grant Facility and was created in 1983.


Guidelines for Civil Society Organizations


About the Program


The Civil Society Fund supports activities related to civic engagement by providing small grants administered through World Bank Country Offices.

The Civil Society Fund seeds and supports activities that empower and enable citizens to take initiatives to enhance and influence development outcomes. Activities strengthen mechanisms for inclusion, accountability, and participation. Activities also strengthen partnerships with public sector, other civil society organizations, and the private sector.

Before You Apply


The World Bank Civil Society Fund is able to fund only a very small percentage of the requests it receives. Many requests are declined, not because they lack merit, but because they do not match either the current objectives, or the criteria of the Civil Society Fund as closely as the selected proposals. Your activity may fall within the objectives and criteria, but the demand far surpasses the availability of funds.

Before applying, please take time to read the Guidelines to determine if there is a match. Also, please determine (by calling the World Bank Country Office or checking the World Bank website) whether the country in which your program operates has a Civil Society Fund.

Outcomes of Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement can…

  •  Promote public consensus and local ownership for reforms and for national poverty reduction and development strategies by creating knowledge-sharing networks, building common ground for understanding, encouraging public-private cooperation, and sometimes even diffusing tensions;
  • Give voice to the concerns of primary and secondary stakeholders, particularly poor and marginalized populations, and help ensure that their views are factored into policy and program decisions;
  • Strengthen and leverage impact of development programs by providing local knowledge, identifying potential risks, targeting assistance, and expanding reach, particularly at the community level;
  • Bring innovative ideas and solutions to development challenges at both the local and global levels;
  • Improve public transparency and accountability of development activities, contributing to the enabling environment for good governance.

Who Can Apply?

  • Civil society organizations based in a developing country and working on issues of development can apply for a grant. 
  • Civil society organizations must be in good standing and have a record of achievement in the community and record of financial probity; 
  • Priority will be given to organizations not supported by the Program in previous years (organizations are not eligible for more than three grants from the Civil Society Fund within a five-year period). 

What Kind of Activities are not Supported?

CSF Grants cannot fund: Research programs, formal academic training programs, operational projects, provision of basic services, ongoing institutional core support (such as equipment), scholarships, fellowships, study programs, individuals applying on their own behalf, or non-legal entities. Proposed activities should not compete with or substitute for regular World Bank instruments; the activity should be clearly distinguishable from the Bank’s regular programs.

What Size of Grants are Awarded?

Most grants are in the range of $3,000 to $7,000 with a maximum of $15,000. The Civil Society Fund prefers that its grants help leverage additional contributions from other sources. Applicant organizations are encouraged to demonstrate a one-to-one cost share ratio and are asked to describe how a grant from the World Bank might help them to raise matching funds from other donors.

How to Apply for a Grant?

The Civil Society Fund is administered out of participating World Bank Country Offices. Not all Country Offices administer the Civil Society Fund. Requests and proposals should not be sent to the World Bank Headquarters, as decisions made at the Country Office level.

Guidelines and application forms are available from the participating World Bank Country Office in about January. The Civil Society Funds are awarded once a year. Applicant organizations should apply at least four to six months in advance of the date of the grant activity. Applicants are advised to read the criteria and the application form carefully before submitting an application to the participating Country Office.

Grants are usually awarded by a CSF Grants Committee, convened in the World Bank Country Office. Applications are screened and reviewed to ensure that the criteria are met. The Civil Society Fund gives full consideration to all proposals. The review may take up to four months to complete. Given the very large number of requests, personal visits and phone calls to the World Bank Office by the grantees are discouraged.

Additional resources for CSO’s are available from the World Bank website,


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Civil Society Fund

Small Grants Program

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