Fundraising Alternatives Part 6: A Focus on EU Funding

The sixth in a series of articles looking at different ways to raise funds. This month Deirdre Murphy, Fundraising Advice Officer at NICVA takes a look at the potential of EU Funding.

How much EU funding is available to organisations in Northern Ireland?

Of the many programmes and sub-programmes listed in the EU budget, 20 specific programmes have been identified that offer the most potential for EU funding for the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland.  The total value of these programmes comes to €1.4 billion (2014-2020 ). However, most of this funding is awarded to State Agencies, Private companies and research organisations.  

How much of this funding will be available to the community and voluntary sector can only be a rough guesstimate because it will depend critically on how actively the sector works to seek its share. Based on past experience and on the conditions of the various programmes that are open to the sector, approximately 10% of this available pot could go to the Voluntary Sector in NI i.e. €130 million or €18 million each year. So, the opportunity for raising funds in this way is sizeable.

Relevant EU Funding Programmes

EU Funds with the most potential include:

The new INTERREG Programme has been designed to address challenges faced by border areas of Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland in order to build upon opportunities for enhanced economic and social development across the region.
There are four priority areas: Research & Innovation, Environment, Sustainable Transport and Health.

Peace IV
The EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation is a unique Structural Funds programme aimed at reinforcing progress towards a peaceful and stable society in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland.
There are four priority areas: Shared Education, Children & Young People, Shared Spaces & Services and Building Positive Relations at a local level.

Find out more about these funding programmes on the SEUPB website.

Whilst these are two of the most known EU funding programmes.  There are a whole host of others, including:

  • European Social Fund - aims to combat poverty and enhance social inclusion by reducing economic inactivity and to increase the skills base of those currently in work and future potential participants in the workforce.
  • Erasmus+ - aims to modernise education, training and youth work across Europe. 
  • Horizon 2020 – aims to support Research and Innovation with emphasis on excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges.
  • Rural Development Programme – aims to sustain and grow rural development.
  • Creative Europe - aims to support the cultural, creative and audio-visual sectors.
  • Rights, Equality and Citizenship - aims to support projects in fields, such as non–discrimination, anti-racism, disability, gender equality, right of the child, and prevention of violence against children, young people, women and other groups at risk (Daphne). 

The European Commission also manages a range of funding programmes that support work in neighbouring countries of the EU and in developing countries, such as the development and cooperation instrument, the Instrument for Pre-Accession, the European Neighbourhood Instrument and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights. 

This article was written in collaboration with Access Europe whose aim is to assist Irish organisations in identifying and securing EU funding to support their projects and activities.  For a full list of relevant funding programmes visit the Access Europe website.

The challenges of EU Funding

EU funding is often portrayed as complex and difficult to access. While it requires some preparation and expertise, it also provides great opportunities to support the work of an organisation, both in Northern Ireland and internationally.  Before your organisation goes down this route there are a few things to bear in mind:

  • The majority of EU Funding programmes require you to work in partnership with organisations from other EU countries. For information on building effective partnerships click here.
  • Applying can be a complex process and requires time and resources. 
  • Managing a grant can be time consuming and needs appropriate systems and personnel in place

To assess whether you could or should apply for EU funding, click here.

For more Fundraising Advice

Follow me on twitter, like my facebook page or get in touch by email; [email protected] 


Share your COVID-19 support service

Organisations providing support to people and communities during the COVID-19 emergency can share their service information here

> Share your support

Not a NICVA member yet?

Save time, money and energy. Join NICVA and you’ll be connecting in to a strong network of local organisations focused on voluntary and community activity.

Join Us

NICVA now welcomes all small groups for free.

Read more on...