A robust policy process is critical to building open society. It offers a venue for wide public participation, enables a discussion of ideas informed by evidence, and prevents attempts to establish a monopoly on truth. Strengthening such processes is critical to Open Society’s mandate of ensuring justice, advancing human rights, promoting transparency, and ending discrimination. Out of the many participants in the policy process, we focus on think tanks because they strengthen democratic processes by: 1) identifying political, economic, and social problems, 2) researching them in a nonpartisan and scientifically rigorous manner, and 3) providing policy alternatives that enrich public debate. Think tanks are vital not only because they advocate specific remedies, but also because these remedies are informed by carefully accumulated and analyzed data, making them harder to ignore than emotional normative appeals or isolated instances of abuse.
The majority of donors operating in the field of policy research provide project funding for analytical materials on specific topics. As a result, both public policy centers and their funders focus almost exclusively on particular policy outputs and their immediate advocacy at the expense of pursuing deeper institutional development of think tanks. This creates a niche for the Think Tank Fund to assist the overall development of grantees in three specific areas: quality of research products, communications and advocacy capacity, and internal development and governance. Our mission is to contribute to building strong think tanks that produce high-quality policy analysis, deliver it to a wide range of audiences to galvanize public interest and debate, and operate as sustainable and internally robust nonprofit organizations.
Organizational development grants aim to provide support for improvement in the three specific areas of think tank activity and operation mentioned above. An organizational development grant can cover from one to all three areas for a period between one to two years based on an applicant’s demands, merit of the proposal, and the time needed for implementing necessary changes.
As part of the Open Society Initiative for Europe, the Think Tank Fund for Wider Europe requests proposals for organizational development grants from independent, multi-issue think tanks working in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, and Ukraine.
To be considered for an organizational development grant, your organization must meet the following criteria:
- be a legally registered independent organization in one of the nine countries listed above
- be operational for no less than 24 months
- be a multi-issue think tank as defined in the complete guidelines section titled: “What kind of think tanks does TTF support?”
- embrace an inclusive approach to policymaking, which implies making analysis publicly available and targeting a variety of public stakeholders
- undertake thorough and rigorous research, and develop thematic expertise, to inform public debates in a responsible and accurate manner and to position itself as a credible interlocutor for the government and other public actors
- be engaged in a broader process of Europeanization in these countries through policy research and advocacy
The Think Tank Fund does NOT support:
- grantees who have received six years of Think Tank Fund core and institutional funding
- core funding that does not target one of the organizational development components listed above
- thematic project funding or stand-alone policy research
- academic research
- assistance to public institutions
- academic fellowships and scholarships
- one-off events (e.g., workshops, seminars, conferences, publications)
- research in arts, humanities, and natural sciences
- technical assistance projects
Organizational development grants support only the development component of independent policy research actors. Prior to receiving a grant, applicants will have to analyze what does and does not work inside the organization. They will be the drivers of change by presenting a detailed plan for overall organizational development and clearly indicating in which of the three areas (research, communications, and internal management) they require improvement and how they will implement it.
Applicants will also be required to show how any grant expenses are tied to proposed changes in improving quality of research products, communications and advocacy capacity, and internal development and governance. For example, if a think tank applies for funding to help make its policy briefs more methodologically rigorous, the Think Tank Fund would be able to cover part of the salary for a policy analyst or a fee to a peer reviewer, but not for an accountant or even a senior researcher if neither works on improving this aspect of work. At the same time, the Think Tank Fund believes that any change requires general organizational investment and is willing to cover part of an applicant’s overhead cost.
Applications are no longer being accepted on a rolling basis. Any inquiries should be directed to: [email protected].