Non-profit actors looking for funding and support for a project idea for Europe

Do you have an original project idea for strengthening connection and cohesion in Europe and need financial and practical support? Then this is the opportunity for you! For six weeks, between 26 January and 9 March 2016 (12.00 CET) you can propose ideas, initiatives and prototypes of projects that foster connection and cohesion in Europe. Submit your idea here.

Here you can find out more about our eligibility criteria.

Friends, colleagues, peers and anyone that’s curious about proposed ideas and wants to offer feedback and comments

Submitted project proposals can be commented on and discussed by the community, made up of all registered users and project proposers on the Advocate Europe platform. Use the opportunity to exchange experience and knowledge, to discuss topics and methods, and to develop your network. Give each other food for thought, work together and learn from one other.

Supporters of one or more ideas

You want to have a direct say in which ideas for Europe are funded and implemented? As a registered user you can vote for your favourite idea. The three project ideas with the most votes win Community Awards of up to €5,000, independent of the expert jury’s decision. Support your favourite idea, share it with your friends and collect more votes.


There are four phases in the Advocate Europe idea challenge. Here’s what happens in each of them:

During the six-week period between 26 January and 8 March 2016 (18.00 CET), you can propose project ideas and apply for funding of up to €50,000. Non-profit actors from all over Europe, friends, colleagues and peers who are registered on the Advocate Europe platform are welcome to join this part of the challenge by offering feedback, commenting on and voting for submitted proposals. The Advocate Europe team moderates the online platform and shares valuable tips and feedback online.

***Very special is the Community Award, whose winners are solely determined by public voting until 17 March 2016 (12.00 CET): The three ideas with the most user votes receive Community Awards worth €5,000 (first place), €3,000 (second place) and €2,000 (third place).***


Following the application deadline, the Advocate Europe team, together with Stiftung Mercator, makes a preselection from among the submitted proposals, which meet the selection and eligibility criteria. Up to 50 proposals are included in this shortlist; the five project ideas with the most votes are automatically included. The shortlist will be published on the online platform in April 2016.



Our interdisciplinary expert jury meets in May 2016 to select up to 12 winning ideas and to give advise to each project.


At the Advocate Europe network meeting in June 2016, the winners meet, grant agreements are signed, and the projects begin. In the months thereafter, the Advocate Europe team supports each project and offers mentoring advice. The funding period ends on 31 March 2017, at which point all winners have to provide a final narrative and financial report. During the implementation period, winning projects share regular updates on their progress on the online platform, allowing others to follow the ‘project journey.’


We expect to return with a call for project ideas for Europe in 2017.


Winning proposals must be submitted by eligible applicants and must meet our selection criteria.

1. Eligibility Criteria

Non-profit organisations and initiatives from across Europe are eligible to apply for and receive funding.

For example:

Legal status

  • Registered associations
  • Non-profit private limited companies and non-profit entrepreneurial companies
  • Cooperatives
  • Public sector institutions

Practical examples

  • NGOs
  • Clubs
  • Associations
  • Social institutions
  • Arts and cultural institutions
  • Schools, universities and research institutes

We fund non-profit organisations, initiatives and projects from:
Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Vatican City.

We’re planning to start a non-profit organisation. Can we still apply?
Yes. We particularly encourage newcomers and beginners to apply. The founding of the association or other entity does not need to be complete at the time of application. Where possible we try to help you to establish a non-profit organisation or support you to find a suitable host organisation. A non-profit organization must have been founded by June 2016 at the latest in order to implement the project.

Can we apply as individuals, or as informal groups such as citizens’ initiatives?
Unfortunately we cannot enter into funding contracts with individuals, private initiatives or local citizens’ groups. Funding will be provided on the basis of signed contract between MitOst and a non-profit organisation. However, we are committed to supporting the best and most innovative ideas. Therefore, if your project idea is selected, a non-profit organisation must be established by the start of implementation in 2016 or you must identify and organisation which agrees to legally host your project.

Can commercially-oriented organisations be funded?
Commercially-oriented organisations and project formats that are not recognised as non-profit cannot be funded. For-profit organisations can, however, be involved as project partners as long as the proposed project and applicant are non-profit.

2. Selection Criteria

We are looking for non-profit ideas and initiatives that:

  • strengthen connection and cohesion in Europe. We welcome proposals that support the exchange of people and ideas, and promote international and intercultural understanding. Our goal is to identify critical topics for the further development of a unified Europe and to bring together key groups such as multipliers, stakeholders, activists, administrators, young Europeans and change-makers.
  • are surprising and unconventional. We want to support original approaches and courageous ideas that are oriented towards the current and future needs of Europe’s civil society and citizens. We are looking for ideas that help to design the future, not just manage the status quo.
  • are based on everyday life. We are looking for project ideas that have practical relevance and a clear relationship to the everyday life of people in Europe.

Special attention will be given to ideas that:

  • are based on unusual partnerships.What happens when an architect and a social entrepreneur want to create a better Europe for the next generation? Or when environmental educators talk to social scientists? What about when an established foreign policy think tank works with social innovators? Or when computer programmers organise things with dancers? Activists for the common good with neurobiologists? – Team up with a friend, neighbour or colleague who works on the same topic, but in a completely different field.Connect things that don’t seem to belong together at first glance. Think beyond the borders of languages, countries, generations and, above all, professions and fields of action. We’re particularly interested in ideas and partnerships from organisations and initiatives that are made up of two or more actors outside of typical constellations.

What we are not looking for:

Advocate Europe does not fund proposals such as:

  • a single youth gathering that ends with a meeting with politicians
  • a digital platform on which Europeans can meet (prove to us that there is a strong demand for this)
  • podium discussions or conferences whose purpose and goal are not entirely clear

3. Terms of Use for Funding

What can we use the money for?
Funding can be used for all project-related costs, including personnel and materials. Material costs include travel costs, accommodation and subsistence, service contracts and honoraria (for external trainers, experts, service providers, etc.), and materials for project implementation (equipment, etc.), the presentation of results, public relations and communications.

What can the money not be used for?

  • Stipends and fellowships for individuals
  • Printing subsidies for publications
  • Filling budget shortfalls in public administrations
  • Construction
  • Projects that have a purely event-based character
  • Personal and administrative costs that are not related to the project
  • Projects that don't correspond to the "Advocate Europe" funding criteria
  • The assumption of temporally unlimited obligations

In what time frame can the money be spent?
Applicants can choose the time frame in which they wish to implement their project. Funding from Advocate Europe can be used between June 2016 and March 2017.

How do we determine the amount of funding?
Funding awarded by Advocate Europe can range from €1 to €50,000. The amount awarded will depend on the idea and the project. A realistic and transparent budget is a precondition for receiving funding. An overview of the most important items to include in the budget can be found in the financial plan template.

Can we apply for co-financing for a larger project or must the total cost of our project not exceed €50,000?
An application for co-financing for project proposal with a total budget of more than €50,000 is possible. In the application we ask for further information about other sources of funding. The important thing is that your ideas correspond to the Advocate Europe selection criteria.

When do we receive the funding?
Individual funding agreements will be concluded between MitOst and the selected winners. These agreements will include a financial plan. You will receive up to 80 percent of the total value of the contract at the beginning of June 2016. The other 20 percent will be transferred after we have checked the final report and financial report.

When do we have to provide evidence about the use of the money? When do we have to supply a financial report?
The winners’ final reports and financial reports (including all original receipts) must be submitted to MitOst by March 30, 2017. For projects with a shorter time frame, reports should be submitted two months before the end of the project. We will require that you submit all receipts and forms digitally as well as in hard copy.


You can submit your application between Tuesday, January 26, 2016 and Wednesday, March 9, 2016 (12.00 CET).

You can vote for the community award between Tuesday, January 26, 2016 and Thursday, March 17 (12.00 CET).


Why is the Ruhr region so important for Advocate Europe? Why do you have a special question about it in the application form?

One of Advocate Europe’s aims is to strengthen the European dimension in the Ruhr region of Germany, where Stiftung Mercator is headquartered. Not all our funded projects need to include a link to this region, but we will select some that do – for example, through a project partner, a target group or some other aspect of the project

What do you mean by “projects based on unusual partnerships?

We want to increase collaboration and partnerships across sectors, branches and fields – to encourage actors and organisations to team up with a friend, neighbour or colleague who works on the same topic, but in a completely different field. We encourage you to connect things that don’t seem to belong together at first glance. What happens when an architect and a social entrepreneur want to create a better Europe for the next generation? Or when environmental educators talk to social scientists? What about when an established foreign policy think tank works with social innovators? Or when computer programmers organise something with dancers? Activists for the common good with neurobiologists? Think beyond the borders of languages, countries, generations and, above all, professions and fields of action. We’re particularly interested in ideas and partnerships from organisations and initiatives that are made up of two or more actors outside of typical constellations.

When is the application deadline?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 (12.00 CET).

Who decides whether we win?

The Advocate Europe team at MitOst, in cooperation with the jury and Stiftung Mercator, will select the projects that make it to the final round. This preliminary selection is based on consideration of the funding criteria and your votes on the online platform. From this shortlist, our multidisciplinary expert jury will select up to 12 winners in May 2016.

The jury members are:

  • Katja Aßmann, Artistic Director, Urbane Künste Ruhr
  • Philipp Dietachmair, Programme Manager for the European Neighbourhood Programme, European Cultural Foundation
  • Mareike Geiling, Founder, Refugees Welcome – Flüchtlinge Willkommen
  • Josef Janning, Head of European Council of Foreign Relations, Berlin Office and Senior Policy Fellow
  • Dr. Claudia Nicolai, Academic Director, HPI School of Design Thinking
  • Katarina Niewiedzial, Integration commissioner, District Office Berlin-Pankow
  • Prof. Dr. Gerhard Vowe, Professor for Media and Communication Studies, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf

Decisions cannot be appealed.

Will the jury ask us for further materials before making a decision? If so, what might they request?

We will contact all projects that reach the final round. We will ask you to supply further documents, such as a financial plan and additional information, if necessary, at that stage.

What is the Community Award?

During the application phase, all registered users can vote on the submitted project ideas. You can vote a maximum of one time for each submitted project idea. Your votes can be submitted or retracted.

The five projects with the most votes will make it to the final round. The project with the greatest number of votes will receive €5,000 towards its implementation, independent of the jury’s decision for the main funding awards. The project with the second greatest number of votes receives €3,000 and the one with the third greatest number of votes €2,000.

When will we know if we’ve won?

We will notify the winners at the end May 2016 at the earliest.

Why does the application form need to be filled out in English?

All project applications must be submitted in English so that we can guarantee comparability and a fair review. In the applications, a creative idea and personal creative drive is more important than grammatically perfect English. Project proposals that are submitted in a language other than English will not be considered.

Why are all the entries in the submission form public and visible to everyone?

Good ideas multiply when we share them. We want to establish a sharing culture in work on European integration in which it’s obvious that one should exchange ideas and plans, start experiments together, founder, doubt, and perhaps then embark upon a new journey together.

Is any additional support available for the winners?

Yes. We will support the winners with continuous mentoring and support for the implementation of their ideas and will invite them to take part in the Advocate Europe network. We will organise two three-day network meetings with practical workshops in order for winning applicants to trade knowledge and experiences with the one another. Travel and lodging costs will be covered for both meetings.

What is the working language for these network meeting?

The working language for the network meeting is English.