BFW Launches New Program “Open Opportunities”

  •  March 19, 2024

Bulgarian Fund for Women announces an open call for applications to the “Open Opportunities” Program. The aim of this call is to contribute to building an inclusive, sustainable, and pro-democracy civil society in Bulgaria that has the capacity and resources to deal with unexpected external or internal factors and crises. Organizations can apply, without competing with each other, for emergency funding addressing a range of challenges and urgent needs that require immediate response, rapid adaptation, and mobilization.

The program will support independent civil society organizations active at local, regional, or national level whose main mission and activities are focused on the protection, promotion and awareness-raising of fundamental rights, European Union (EU) values, the rule of law, gender equality and democracy. Grants for emergency support will be targeted at organizations working on under-represented and controversial human rights issues, in particular women’s rights, the rights of LGBTIQ+ communities, and the rights of other vulnerable groups while addressing the root causes of poverty and inequalities.

This financial support will be available all year round in response to unexpected opportunities, and life-threatening or force majeure situations. These situations may include threats from non-democratic or far-right movements challenging the EU’s core values and gender equality; physical or digital safety and security issues; organizational crises, urgent and unforeseen needs to support the work of the organizations or their programs that primarily serve vulnerable groups, unexpected advocacy or mobilization opportunities that may lead to human rights development, such as changes in legal decisions, policies and laws, or changes in public attitudes and practices. Through rapid and dedicated support, the “Open Opportunities” program provides organizations with the tools to effectively address challenges and prospects for changing the status quo.

Application Conditions

Only organizations registered in Bulgaria under the Non-Profit Legal Entities Act (NPOA) and operating for public benefit may apply.

The following entities are ineligible for funding in this competition: non-profit private benefit associations, non-profit private benefit foundations, community centers, trade unions, international organizations without registration in Bulgaria, commercial companies, cooperatives, as well as unregistered collectives and individuals.

Applications are strongly encouraged by organizations that many donors consider ‘at risk’. These are small, and underdeveloped, including newly established local organizations led by their communities, working in underprivileged areas and on controversial issues. These organizations are most often those that have no project history and no permanent team, whose activities take place outside the capital, and whose annual budget is less than 100,000 (one hundred thousand) leva. These organizations are most often run by women or have women, girls, people with different abilities, LGBTIQ+ people on their teams as a priority and are constantly attacked for the vital work they do.

Financial Aspects of the Open Call

The total budget of the call for proposals is 48,895.75 BGN (the equivalent in euro currency of 25000 EUR). The maximum amount of financial support an organization can apply for is up to BGN 4889.58 (EUR 2,500 equivalent) for up to 6 months. The percentage of funding of the costs is up to 100 % of the eligible costs. If the application is approved, the payment will be made in one installment upon signing the grant agreement. Applicant organizations are not required to make any financial or in-kind contribution of their own.

Eligible Activities

The program offers 6 main categories of activities:

  1. Urgent advocacy related to an unexpected moment or key opportunity to influence policies and practices related to the protection of human rights;
  2. Urgent community organizing and mobilizing in defense of equity and climate justice, EU values, and human rights movements;
  3. Organizational defense against attacks by far-right, non-democratic, fundamentalist, anti-gender movements (attacks such as smear cases, negative PR, funding cuts, defamation, physical attacks on-premises/staff, etc.);
  4. Organizational development and transition in response to unexpected changes in the organization;
  5. Comprehensive (holistic) security to address risks to the physical/psychological safety of the organization’s staff and human rights defenders;
  6. Emergency services to support marginalized communities (women and girls, LGBTIQ+ people, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, Roma, people with disabilities, etc.).

Program Timeline:

Publication of the open call – 19 March 2024

Online information day – 2 April 2024

Deadlines for applications – Ongoing

Evaluation of applications and notification – Within 14 days of submission of an application

Program closure – May 2025 or until funds are exhausted

Signing of grant contracts – Ongoing, subject to application approval

*Timelines are based on projected expectations and there may be changes in the actual timing of successive phases based on the number of applications received.

Application and Evaluation Process

BFW has streamlined the application process to ensure accessibility and timeliness. The outcome of the assessment takes up to 14 days from the date of receipt of the completed form until applicants are notified, allowing them to access support quickly. By reducing bureaucratic obstacles, we aim to support NGOs to become more resilient, adaptive, proactive to crises, and vocal advocates for the communities and causes they represent!

The application process takes place entirely online through the Bulgarian Fund for Women portal.

All applicants need to complete a quick eligibility test. If the organization is an eligible candidate, after completing the test, you will see on your screen a link to access the online application portal which you can follow. The first time you log in, you only need to register your organization with only one user and password, and if you have already created an account, log in with the details you originally registered. Applying involves creating a detailed organizational profile (for organizations that will be applying for the first time) and completing the “Open Opportunities” application form.

Evaluation Process

The selection process involves checking the administrative eligibility of applicants and assessing their projects against a set scale of criteria. Among the important selection criteria are:

Urgency – the request is in response to an unexpected event, opportunity or challenge and requires urgent action;

Impact – the proposal is able to have a direct impact on the identified problem or demonstrate significant potential to address opportunities/tangible change for the target groups;

Flexibility and Adaptability – the project offers alternative strategies or can change rapidly to meet changing needs in response to dynamic circumstances or emerging opportunities;

Leadership and representation of the groups whose rights the organizations are defending.

Further information and documents

You can ask your questions, including in cases of technical problems, at the following email address: ask [at ] Before contacting us, check out the FAQ section, which has up-to-date information on specific topics related to the funding mechanisms. Telephone consultations will not be provided.

BFW is a data controller and processes personal data under data protection legislation and Regulation (EU) 2016/679. You can read our data processing policy HERE.

We look forward to your applications!

BIRDS in BG project is co-funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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