UNDEF funds projects that empower civil society, promote human rights and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes. Most UNDEF funds go to local civil society organizations. In this way, UNDEF plays a novel and unique role in complementing the UN’s other, more traditional work with governments to strengthen democratic governance around the world. UNDEF subsists entirely on voluntary contributions from governments; in 2021, it received almost 220 million US dollars in contributions and counts more than 45 countries as donors, including many middle- and low-income states in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 15 Rounds of Funding so far, UNDEF has supported over 880 two-year projects in more than 130 countries.
Grants ranging from US$100,000 to US$300,000 support initiatives in the areas of:
– Community activism
– Support for electoral processes
– Women’s empowerment
– Media and freedom of Information
– Rule of Law and human rights
– Strengthening civil society interaction with government
– Tools for knowledge
– Youth engagement
UNDEF receives an average of 2,000 to 3,000 proposals a year and only some 50 are selected.