Call 2017/2018

The next call for ideas starts in late November 2017

Idea Canvas 2017

Use the Idea Canvas to prepare your project idea.

Register now and stay updated.

Ideas for democracy in Europe


Share your idea for democracy in Europe until 16 January 2018. Photo: Panos Georgiou

In times of growing national egos and fences, the European idea seems to be shaken. Politics often seem paralysed and uninspired, while reactionary statements dominate public space and airtime. Still, we at Advocate Europe believe that it is worth engaging for the ideal of a connected and democratic Europe.

Let’s face it: We are not spectators; we already are the leading characters shaping a necessary political movement: as active citizens, social innovators, think tankers, street workers, cultural managers, university scholars and teachers. – What if we took the stage?

Together we need to move from diagnosis to action. Now is the time to put your ideas for a vibrant democratic Europe onto the stage. They hold the potential to spark and spread new ways of inspiring and transforming our democracy.

The kind of ideas we are looking for

We encourage you to think about what keeps democracy vital: How can we inspire political change and political structures effectively? How do we need to change our interactions in societies? What could a biologist, a street worker, or a social innovator do together? How could we strengthen democracy through art or at school? How can think tankers or pressure groups take up this challenge in a different way than before? How about in the field of sustainability? We are open to receiving practical ideas from diverse fields and disciplines.

If you’re asking yourself, “How political does this need to be?” for us it is not necessarily about party politics. It is about how we all interact with each other every day; how we as European societies practise living together, make decisions together and how we engage in the processes leading up to those decisions. The word “democracy” is attached to numerous connotations, discussions and a lot of history. We invite you to take a practical approach and focus on building its future. What if we looked at democracy as “a work in progress” that we could strengthen and improve? What idea would you try out? What does your idea for democracy look like?

We acknowledge that circumstances are different everywhere and therefore ask you to take what is going on in your ‘corner of Europe’ into account while keeping the bigger European picture in mind. Intervene wherever you find your impact is most relevant, effective and replicable; be it across different countries, at a European level, in your hometown or region. Make sure that your idea can be transferred to or used in other contexts or in other places in Europe facing similar issues.

We are curious about diverse ideas that show how democracy could be strengthened, improved or rethought. Enjoy the challenge!

Who can join?


From cities to rural areas, we connect change-makers. Photo: Panos Georgiou

Non-profit actors

Are you looking for funding and support for a project idea for Europe that fits our call 2017/2018?

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 eight weeks, between late November 2017 and 16 January 2018 (12.00 CET) you can propose ideas, initiatives and projects. We will fund up to twelve winning ideas with up to € 50,000 each. Here you can find out more about our eligibility criteria.

Friends, colleagues, peers

... and any engaged Europeans who are curious about proposed ideas and want to offer feedback and share their expertise.

Use the opportunity to exchange experience and knowledge in our digital idea space, discuss proposed ideas, topics and methods and expand your network. Give each other food for thought, work together and learn from one other.

How does it work?

In 2017/2018 we are using a two-step selection process. Here is the overview of each phase of the idea challenge.

The phases in brief

1. Submitting your Idea Sketch: Late November 2017 – 16.01.2018 (12.00 CET)

2. Shortlist selection: January until March 2018

3. Voting for the Community Award: 22.01.2018 – 12.02.2018

4. Participating in the Collaboration Camp: April 2018

5. Submitting your Project Proposal: May 2018

6. Selection of winning ideas: June 2018

7. Announcing the winners: Summer 2018

8. Realising your project idea: July 2018 until August 2019

9. Project Completion: Until 30 September 2019

The phases in detail

Late November 2017 – 16.01.2018 (12.00 CET)

In the first stage, you can apply by roughly sketching the major details of your idea in our Idea Sketch. As soon as you have submitted your application, it will be published online in the idea space. Everyone interested can support you with their feedback and comment on your idea. You can modify your Idea Sketch together with your team until the end of the application deadline. The Advocate Europe team moderates the online platform and shares valuable tips and feedback online.

January until March 2018

Following the application deadline, the Advocate Europe team, together with Stiftung Mercator, makes a preselection from among the submitted proposals that meet the selection and eligibility criteria. A very important selection factor will be how much your idea fits our call 2017/2018.

Up to 30 proposals are included in this shortlist. The shortlist will be published on the online platform in March 2018.

22.01.2018 – 12.02.2018

*Special for current and previous project idea proposer*

Anyone who has submitted an idea to one of the three idea challenges we have run, in 2017/2018, 2016 or 2015, is entitled to vote for our community award. The idea with the most votes will be included in the shortlist and receives start-up funding € 1,000. Please note that you can choose your personal favourite submission. You can, however, not vote for your own project idea.

End of April 2018

If your idea has made it to the shortlist, we will meet in person at the collaboration camp. We will invite project makers behind all shortlisted ideas and the winner of the Community Award to get together.

During the Camp we have four days to work together on your project ideas, explore your project design and your theory of change.

Participating in the Collaboration Camp is mandatory in order to proceed to the next stage of the selection process.

May 2018

Following the Collaboration Camp, all participants have the chance to refine their project idea and submit a modified project application (Project Proposal) on our online platform. The Project Proposal is slightly longer than the Idea Sketch and will be reviewed by our jury. Applicants have three weeks to prepare their proposals.

June 2018

Our interdisciplinary jury meets in June 2018 to select up to twelve winning ideas. Each of them receives funding of up to € 50,000 as well as mentoring and support.

July 2018 until August 2019

If the jury has chosen your Project Proposal, we will sign a grant agreement with you in summer 2018. Between July 2018 and August 2019 the Advocate Europe team will support you and offer mentoring advice.

During the implementation period, winning projects share regular updates on their progress on the online platform, allowing others to follow the journey of their project. The winners meet at the Advocate Europe network meeting in a European city.

The funding period ends on 30 August 2019.

Until 30 September 2019

Until 30 September 2019 all winners have to hand in a financial and narrative report.

What can be proposed?

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


In our preselection we review how the proposals meet our criteria. Photo: Shooresh Fezoni

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 in finding a suitable host organisation. A non-profit organisation must have been founded by June 2018 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 a 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 2018 or you must identify an organisation that 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.

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 people and change-makers. In 2017/2018 our call for ideas has a thematic focus on strengthening democracy in Europe.

  • 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 boundaries 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

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

Within your project you may not create products that are intended for later commercial use.

What is the amount of funding?

Advocate Europe supports up to 12 project ideas with up to € 50,000 each. When planning your project, please refer to that as the maximum amount of funding. The final amount awarded will depend on the idea and the project. In the Idea Sketch you do not have to indicate a final amount. We will discuss your financial plan together with you - if you are on the shortlist and invited to the Collaboration Camp in April 2018.

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.

In what time frame can the money be spent?

Funding from Advocate Europe can be used between July 2018 and August 2019. Until 30 September 2019 you need to submit a financial and narrative report.

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 funding amount as an advance payment. 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 30 September 2019. 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.