INFO SESSION:  Program for awarding small grants to civil society organizations has been presented

INFO SESSION: Program for awarding small grants to civil society organizations has been presented

The Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) and the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) presented to interested non-governmental organizations a call for project proposals under the Small Grants Program with the aim of contributing to the establishment of the rule of law and improving the state of human rights in Montenegro.

The program for awarding small grants to civil society organizations (CSOs) was published within the project “Inclusive dialogue for the progress of society”, IPA/2022/440-356, which CEDEM implements in partnership with CDT, and which is financed by the Delegation of the European Union (EU ) in Montenegro, and is co-financed by the Ministry of Public Administration.

The total budget of this Program is EUR 20 thousand, and the four project proposals with the highest number of achieved points will be supported by small grants in the amount of EUR five thousand each.

Nina Đuranović from CDT said that the goal of the project is to encourage democratic reforms and good governance in Montenegro, through strengthening the role of civil society organizations in decision-making processes and monitoring the process of European integration.

“At the same time, the project aims to strengthen the legislative and supervisory function of the Assembly, promote multi-sector political dialogue and involve vulnerable groups and the general public in the EU integration process,” said Đuranović at an info session in Podgorica.
As she stated, the goal is to strengthen the capacities of CSOs to be professional, responsible, independent and visible actors in participatory democratic processes in the country, especially in terms of establishing the rule of law and improving the state of human rights.

Đuranović said that through the project they want to contribute to the progress of Montenegro’s EU integration, by strengthening the role of local CSOs in terms of promoting and protecting human rights (marginalized communities), promoting inclusive decision-making processes, and encouraging civic activism and volunteerism.

CEDEM program manager Andrea Mićanović presented the priority areas within which interested parties can submit project proposals.

She stated that the priority areas are the promotion of inclusive democratic decision-making processes and the Europeanization of Montenegrin society, the promotion and protection of human rights, especially of marginalized communities, as well as the improvement of gender equality.

Project proposals that contribute to providing support to vulnerable groups and strengthening their services are also acceptable if you support the development of civic activism and volunteerism at the local level,” Mićanović explained.

Speaking about the application criteria, Mićanović said that CSOs that have the status of a legal entity established and registered in Montenegro and that are active at least one year before the publication of the call for project proposals, i.e. February 15, can receive funds under this program.
As she stated, the organization should operate on the territory of Montenegro, whereby priority will be given to local CSOs when distributing funds.

According to Mićanović, civil society organizations are allowed to organize trainings, workshops and seminars, conduct research and analysis, create campaigns and initiatives, organize events, conferences, meetings, teamwork trainings and similar within the project.

According to her, CSOs can provide support to local organizations for active participation in working groups, commissions and councils and carry out promotional activities and public campaigns.

Mićanović said that through this Call, no profit-making activities will be financed, which include donations for charitable purposes, which mostly or exclusively concern individual sponsorships, activities related to the activities of political parties.

It is planned that the project will last six months and that all activities must be carried out on the territory of Montenegro by the end of this year.

When it comes to the application procedure, Mićanović said that it is necessary to submit an application form in which organizations present a project idea, budget proposal and supporting documentation.

CEDEM’s financial manager, Sanja Marljukić, pointed out that the budget must be justified, that is, that the proposed financial resources must be necessary to realize the project’s activities.

“The budget must be realistic, that is, the stated prices of products/services must be in the amounts arrived at after detailed market research and acceptable costs must be represented,” explained Marljukić.

She explained that acceptable costs are those that are aligned with the specific requirements of the project and contribute to the achievement of its goals, that are realistic and reflect market prices and standards, that can be clearly identified, documented, and accounted for, allowing for easy verification and auditing.

‚‚This includes expenses that are in accordance with the rules and regulations related to financial operations and project management, that are in accordance with the applicable accounting standards of the country, and according to the usual accounting practice for expenses, that are reasonable, justified and in accordance with the principle of proper financial management, especially in terms of economy and efficiency”, said Marljukić.

As she added, the budget must include the costs that include the salaries and operational costs of the administrative and technical staff that will be engaged in the project, provided that the project proponents clearly explain how much financial support will enable them to achieve the project’s goals.

“The cost of salaries and operating costs must be up to 30 percent of the total value of the budget,” Marljukić emphasized.

When it comes to unacceptable costs, Marljukić said that this refers to repayment of debts and loans, coverage of losses and potential future obligations, lending to third parties, as well as costs reported through a project/program that is already financially supported by the EU or another another donor.

“With this project, it is not possible to buy real estate, motor vehicles, equipment. It is not even possible to cover losses caused by exchange rate differences, bank commissions and fees”, added Marljukić.

According to Marljukić, the amount of value added tax (VAT) cannot be covered by these costs.

“All invoices that we will receive for the realization of certain activities, the amount of which is greater than EUR 50, must be exempted from VAT”, specified Marljukić.

She said that the budget consists of five categories: human resources, travel expenses, equipment and supporting material, local office and other expenses/services, and emphasized that when preparing the budget, it is very important to provide an accurate description of the expense, the unit of measure for each expense, unit numbers with the exact amount and finally the total cost.

All requested documentation is sent in printed form by mail, as well as electronically, no later than March 15, 2024. Video material from the info session can be found on CEDEM’s YouTube channel.

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