Crisis Response Fund

The CIVICUS Crisis Response Fund provides a way for civil society organisations facing new restrictions on their work to apply for funding for emergency advocacy actions.

Why the Fund exists:

Civil society organisations around the world are often faced with threats to their work. While some threats develop gradually, others are swift and require an immediate advocacy response.

It provides small grants of up to 10,000 USD over 3-6 months to national civil society organisations for them to run advocacy or resiliency activities over a maximum of six months. These activities, designed by the applicant, are relevant to their work and aim to bring about positive change. Some examples have been:

  • National workshops with civil society actors to discuss and plan advocacy strategies, like repealing restrictive legislation;
  • Advocacy meetings with decision makers to give recommendations on how to ensure freedom of association and assembly within the given context;
  • Public engagement campaigns conducted via social media, traditional media or alternative advocacy tools;
  • Fact-finding and report publication with the aim of conducting evidence-based advocacy;
  • Regional networking with others under siege to exchange best practices and share legal expertise;
  • Solidarity visits or missions by international high level bodies and/or celebrities.
  • Improve digital or physical protocols and procedures of their premises, websites and other facets of their work to avoid security breaches through resiliency grants.

“The Crisis Response Fund has helped Pakistani civil society to reduce hostility against civil society organisations and counter imminent threats and challenges they face. With support of the Crisis Response Fund, we were better able to establish linkages, devise strategies and initiate advocacy efforts” – Blue Veins, Pakistan.


About the Fund

The CIVICUS Crisis Response Fund, established in 2007, helps to defend civic freedoms and democratic values. It presents a way to mobilise quick, principled and effective advocacy responses to events that threaten fundamental rights to associate and assemble freely. The fund also supports civil society through resiliency grants, designed to ensure that organisations have greater flexibility and creativity to proactively prevent and mitigate threats against their organisations. By supporting organisations under threat, we are able to amplify voices of those not always included, build solidarity and support civil society to mobilise for open space.

In 2011, CIVICUS joined a coalition of international civil society partners to administer the Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund through our Crisis Response Fund, which provides emergency advocacy support responding to threats to civil society.

What the fund does


How organisations have used it to create change

Since 2007, the Crisis Response Fund has supported civil society organisation around the world by issuing 347 advocacy and resiliency grants.

Crisis Response Fund: Grants by Region.

The grants have helped to support the work of feminists using street performance to protest closed civic spaces in South-East Asia. In East Africa, the Fund has been used to develop a strategy and share lessons learned for working in the midst of restrictions on freedom of assembly and association. Resiliency grants have also helped CSOs to develop security protocols to ensure that they are able to prevent threats from materialising, including supporting a CSO in blocking unauthorised access to their premises and protecting documentation with sensitive information.

How to apply:

Please note the Crisis Response Fund application period is closed until 15 January 2021. Partners are advised to reapply early in the New Year.

  1. Read the Crisis Response Fund Guidelines and Protocols document to know the criteria for applying
  2. Complete the Crisis Response Fund application online here. For guidance on other language submissions, see here: Spanish | French | Portuguese. Non-English applications should still be submitted online.
  3. Complete the Crisis Response Fund Budget and upload it to the Online Form when submitting.
  4. If partners cannot submit the application online for security reasons, they may reach out to  
  5. If partners have issues accessing the form and prefer to submit a hardcopy, they can (at their own expense) post the application form to:

    Crisis Response Fund Team
    CIVICUS Johannesburg Hub
    25 Owl Street
    Braamfontein Werf
    South Africa

What to check before submitting

CIVICUS Crisis Response support will be provided in cases that require immediate action – either to forestall imminent threats or to address new restrictions. Note that the normal total processing time of a grant request is around 7-8 weeks but exceptions can occur if there are compelling reasons for prioritising the request.

Applications must adhere to the following conditions:

  1. Use the application form provided on this site and duly complete all the provisions.
  2. Clearly state how the planned advocacy activities respond to the restrictions to freedom of association and/or assembly.
  3. Clearly delineate the planned activities, which should be implemented over a maximum of six months. The total amount requested must be shown clearly in the budget template provided, and must not exceed 10 000 USD for individual cases or USD20000 for consortia of 3 or more organization.
  4. The Crisis Response Fund does not support core operating costs, but can proportionately support administration, equipment or personnel costs in a way that is reasonable relative to the overall grant.
  5. Clearly states the contact address, including an active telephone number and email address, for follow-up.

If you have any security concerns that prevent you from submitting your application online, or would like to discuss further information please email