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As one of the three intergovernmental pillars of the Commonwealth, the Foundation operates within that critical space between government and the people. The Foundation works to bring the voice of civil society into all aspects of governance, supporting civil society engagement in shaping the policies and decisions that affect people’s lives

The Foundation’s Strategic Plan 2021-2026 is strongly linked to the Commonwealth Charter and its values and aspirations, and it identifies three thematic areas of focus:

  • Health
  • Environment and climate change
  • Freedom of expression

The Commonwealth Foundation is an intergovernmental organisation established by Heads of Government in support of the belief that the Commonwealth is as much an association of peoples as it is of governments.
It is the Commonwealth agency for civil society; an organisation dedicated to strengthening people’s participation in all aspects of public dialogue, so they can act together and learn from each other to build democratic societies.

Ultimately, the Foundation seeks to ensure that policy and government institutions are more effective contributors to development through the influence of civil society.

The Foundation’s themes overlap and connect in myriad ways. Applicants are encouraged to explore those intersections when developing their proposals and, where appropriate, consider addressing more than one theme.

Possible health focus areas may include supporting civil society to engage meaningfully with government on: 

  • Advocating for universal health coverage 
  • Realising the right to health through better availability, quality, and accountability in health services and delivery 
  • Developing programmes and policies that address the social determinants of health. 

Possible environment and climate change areas may include supporting civil society to engage meaningfully with government on: 

  • Developing, reviewing and improving laws, policies and practices aimed at addressing environmental and climate threats 
  • Monitoring the implementation of relevant laws, policies and practices — such as national climate plans or commitments 
  • Addressing mitigation and adaptation challenges. 

Possible freedom of expression areas may include supporting civil society to engage meaningfully with government on: 

  • Advocating for a legal and regulatory environment that protects and upholds freedom of expression for all 
  • Promoting access to information and transparency in governance, including through a free and independent press, robust freedom of information laws and their practical application 
  • Supporting civil society to work with artists to raise awareness to issues of freedom of expression and engage in advocacy efforts around these issues 

Additional themes

Applicants are encouraged to reflect on our other themes and considerations which, while important to us, do not necessarily need to be reflected in successful applications. 


They recognise that social structures and systems are shaped by gendered power dynamics that often reflect and perpetuate inequality and discrimination. We ask all applicants to demonstrate an understanding of how gender operates within their chosen theme/s and show how they will integrate that understanding into their project. 


The Foundation understands our limits to fund worthwhile initiatives and we encourage applicants to carefully consider how they can leverage partnerships to further enhance their work.

Participation of young people

Young people are central to the Foundation’s mission and vision. Applications are encouraged from CSOs working to support and advance the involvement of young people in their own governance, as well as from CSOs that include young people in their structure.

Small and vulnerable member states

The Commonwealth is a champion of small states and carries a special duty to support and advocate for the interests of small and vulnerable states. Applications from eligible small and vulnerable states are strongly encouraged.

Capacity Development

The Foundation understands the importance of strengthening organisational capacity. Shortlisted projects will therefore be invited to propose capacity strengthening initiatives that cover organisational needs that are broader than the project but that help to enhance organisational effectiveness. See Guidelines for Applicants for more information.


Africa, Asia


  • A grant  between £15,000 and £30,000 per year, and
    for a maximum of two years.


  • The applicant must be a not-for-profit civil society organization (CSO) registered in an
    eligible Commonwealth Foundation member country.
  • Newly registered organisations (those that have been registered and operating for less
    than a year) should not apply.
  • . The proposed project must be implemented in the country of registration. Projects can
    be implemented in one or more eligible Commonwealth Foundation member countries
    and can have a national, sub-national, regional, or international remit. In multi-country
    projects, strong local participation in project implementation is required (see further
    information on partnerships below).
  • The applicant organization must have a minimum of two years’ demonstrable experience
    working on participatory governance and advocacy within the area/theme(s) of the
    proposed project.
  • The total grant amount requested must be between £15,000 and £30,000 per year, and
    for a maximum of two years.
  • The requested grant amount should not exceed 70% of the applicant
    organisation’s total annual income, averaged over the past two years.
  • 7. The annual income of the applicant organization, averaged over the past two years, must
    be less than £2m.
  • The project proposal must address at least one of the notified priority themes.
  • The project proposal must demonstrate appropriate integration of gender
    considerations. For example, the applicant may use the findings of gender analysis to
    inform the design of the project proposal and / or and ensure allocation of adequate
    resources to effectively address gender equality in the project cycle.
  • Proposals must relate to projects that are expected to begin within the second half of
    2023 (i.e., after 1 July 2023 and before end September 2023).

Eligible Regions: Bangladesh ,Mauritius, Barbados, Mozambique, Brunei ,Darussalam, Namibia, Cameroon, Pakistan, Cyprus, Papua New Guinea, Guyana, Rwanda, India, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Kenya, Seychelles, Kingdom of Eswatini ,Sri Lanka, Kiribati, South Africa, Lesotho, The Bahamas, Malawi , Uganda, Malaysia , United Republic of Tanzania, Maldives ,Zambia, Malta


  • You will first need to login and create your Survey Monkey Apply account to complete and
    submit an online application form. Only completed applications that have been submitted
    using the online application system will be considered.
  • A logic model (using the template provided).
  • A copy of the organisation’s registration certificate. This should be clear a scan of an
    official registration document provided by the relevant authorities in the country where
    the organisation is registered. Trust deeds will not be accepted in lieu of a registration
    certificate. When the original registration certificates are not in English, shortlisted
    applications can be expected to be asked to provide a certified translation.
  • For grants of £15,000 per annum: The applicant organisation may choose to submit either
    their audited accounts or a copy of the organisation most recent annual accounts. Annual
    accounts must include a balance sheet, a profit and loss statement and notes about the
    account. They must be signed off by the organisation’s Board or its principal executive
    officer. Audited or annual accounts must not be older than December 2020.
  • . For grants of £15,001 and above: a copy of the organisation’s most recent audited
    accounts. Note that audited accounts must include both the accounts and the opinion of
    the external auditor who has certified them. They must be signed off by the auditor and
    the organisation’s Board or its principal executive officer.