There are several sources of grant opportunities available for NGOs from government to grantmaking foundations to multilaterals and to bilateral. Bilateral agencies are official aid agencies of developed countries providing financial assistance to NGOs and governmental agencies in developing countries. Although a substantial part of this aid is reserved for governments in developing countries, yet the official policies of many of these bilateral agencies require mandatory allocation of budgets for supporting civil society organizations directly. NGOs often ignore this potential source of funding and here we are providing some guidance information on how to identify this funding and apply for support.
In order to first understand the source of funding available with bilateral donor agencies, it is important to know what are the different types of these agencies and whether any of them work in your country or not. Most of the developed countries (and more recently emerging economies like China and India) have bilateral agencies that coordinate aid and provide financial support to NGO and government beneficiaries across poor and developing nations around the world. But not all bilateral agencies actively conduct grant programs for NGOs. However, those that have official funding schemes with regular policies for offering financial aid to civil society are discussed below.
Many of these bilaterals have formidable names and operate under the name of “Development Cooperation” mostly out of the embassies of their countries. Their small and medium-sized grants are targeted to address issues related poverty, health, nutrition, human rights, gender, peace and conflict etc. depending upon the country strategies and policies in place.