Grants Policy Introduction
Baytna Syria grantmaking aims at benefitting a wide range of beneficiaries through extending support to projects of civil society organizations as well as less formal initiatives operating inside Syria. There are no limits on specific activities, though the focus is on developmental and rights-based approaches, not on charitable activities. In addition to funding, Baytna Syria provides throughout the grant duration technical support to CSOs by building and strengthening their capacities. The grantmaking policy was developed and designed to fit the Syrian context in terms of flexibility, payments, delivery of reports, and monitoring of the work progress. It is disseminated in Arabic in order to facilitate the widest possible access to funding among Syrian civil society.
Who can apply?
Baytna Syria can receive applications from formally established and registered civil society organizations as well as from less formal initiatives operating inside Syria. In exceptional cases, grants can be awarded for activities outside Syria. Given the Syrian situation, registration is not a pre-condition. All organizations and initiatives must adhere to Baytna Syria’s core values, including universal human rights, the pursuit of basic civil liberties (freedom of expression, association, assembly, and information), and practice inclusiveness with regard to gender, language, beliefs, age, etc. Applicant organizations and initiatives must not be affiliated with any particular political faction or armed group. They must operate on a not-for-profit basis and have a clear and efficient decision making process, meeting basic criteria of transparency and accountability. Furthermore, applicants must comply with international anti-terrorism and money laundering norms.
Which type of projects are supported?
There are no limits on specific work modes, though Baytna Syria’s focus is clearly on developmental and rights-based approaches as well as on initiatives promoting policy dialogue. The aim is thereby to go beyond charitable activities limited to relief and humanitarian support. Project must focus on civil society inside Syria and can only be considered in exceptional cases if the work is to take place outside the country. Projects can target the national as well as the local levels, depending on the approach chosen by the organization or the initiative. Projects must respect strategic planning principles that clearly show that applicants distinguish between broader goals, specific objectives, and related activities. Projects must be cost-efficient, with calculations made for individual activities. Projects should consider and whenever possible address cross-cutting issues of inclusiveness (gender, language, beliefs, age, etc.) and sustainability, in particular regarding the environment. Projects must address potential risks, such as the general security and military situation of a geographic area, the type of de facto authority in control of the area for which support is requested, as well as project-specific risks and how they can be mitigated. Projects should provide room for further outreach, increasing the visibility of civil society. Projects must contain monitoring and follow-up provisions, enabling applicants and Baytna Syria to assess their effectiveness, efficiency, and potential impact.
There are no limits on thematic orientations though projects such as food distribution or providing medical services are generally excluded due to their humanitarian and relief nature. Instead, Baytna Syria welcomes projects with a clear civil society dimension. This includes projects related to the values of universal human rights, to basic freedoms, and public policy areas in which these values and freedoms are being applied. Based on its first phase of operations, Baytna Syria has been co-developing projects in key thematic clusters, including, but not limited to:
- rights and governance
- women’s rights and gender development
- media and information
- youth and education
Applicants are free to suggest projects related to other thematic areas. They are encouraged to discuss them with Baytna Syria’s Field Program Officers inside Syria who are engaged in a constant mapping exercise on new and upcoming civil society initiatives as well as in their submissions to Baytna Syria Headquarters.
What are the selection criteria?
Baytna Syria is conscious of the situation that every project has its own specificities. The review of concept notes and full proposals takes this into consideration. However, Baytna Syria applies some basic criteria, such as assessing whether a project’s goals are relevant to society and respond to their needs. Project activities should be effective, i.e. capable of attaining the stated objectives, and the use of resources should be efficient. Furthermore, projects should have a potential for impact by influencing wider change. They should ideally be sustainable with a lifetime beyond the funding period. Projects may be co-funded by other donors if that increases their sustainability. At the same time, project proposals need to state clearly actual or potential third party contributions. Projects should also be in line with universal human rights and basic civil liberties. In practical terms, projects are assessed in the light of their accessibility to Baytna Syria Field Program Officers for guidance and monitoring.
Baytna Syria is also aware that every organization has its own capabilities and challenges. In general, the selection depends on the project idea submitted. Baytna Syria is therefore ready to support new and upcoming initiatives in their organizational development. Otherwise, existing organizations need to have adequate capacities to implement a project. This includes e.g. human and possibly financial resources, prior experience in project management, a good internal governance structure, a proper accounting system, etc. Organizations should also be capable of assessing their needs as related to any project they wish to submit. Furthermore, specific experience is being considered if it is meaningful for the concrete project submitted. In terms of project ideas as well as regarding organizational readiness, Baytna Syria conducts due diligence procedures.
Who reviews the projects?
The concept notes as well as the full proposals are reviewed by Baytna Syria program staff in a participatory manner involving, under the guidance of the Senior Program Manager, the Grants Officer, the Capacity Building Officer, and the Field Program Officers. In addition, Baytna Syria consults with third parties whose opinions are taken into consideration. This is done by reaching out to known and respected members of local communities, taking into account security and other sensitivities. Furthermore, Baytna Syria is supported in the assessment of proposals by a Technical Assistance Team that will gradually spin off its responsibilities to an independent Board of Advisors composed of respected Syrians. Potential conflicts of interest need to be disclosed by the person(s) concerned and are resolved by suspending the review and voting responsibilities of the person(s) regarding any project concerned. As the workload increases, this Board of Advisors may establish review committees. The entire review process is documented in a project database for internal review, audit, and future reference for the sake of transparency and accountability.
Mechanisms for providing project funding requests
Civil society organizations and initiatives can apply for grants based on their own initiative by submitting a concept note for each project idea. This can be done in an ongoing manner throughout the year. Baytna Syria is open to this in order to give initiatives from inside Syria a voice. In addition, Baytna Syria issues calls for proposals at intervals in line with its work plan. The purpose of these calls is to help in particular those civil society initiatives that want to go beyond humanitarian work and need guidance for doing so. For both mechanisms, the review and selection procedures are the same.
Applicants can address the Field Program Officers inside Syria as well as the Program Unit at Baytna Syria’s Headquarters in Gaziantep, preferably by writing to the Grants Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org). The contact shall serve the purpose of starting a conversation about project ideas. This is a collaborative process in which Baytna Syria aims to help applicants to prepare a set of basic documents:
- a project Concept Note (Annex 1)
- a project General Budget (Annex 2)
- a project Schedule of Activities (Annex 3)
Baytna Syria will carefully study and assess the documents in a transparent review process described below. During this process, the Field Program Officers or other Baytna Syria staff might get in touch with applicants in order to discuss the project design, its costs, or any other issue. Based on the final concept note submitted, Baytna Syria will then approve or reject a request for support, generally within 6 to 8 weeks. Applicants whose concept notes are approved are invited to submit a full proposal.