Development Today

Swedish NGO funding

When the Conservative MP Gunilla Carlsson became Development Minister in Sweden in 2007, she said to Development Today in an interview that she wanted to “shake up” the Swedish NGO funding scene. The same group of organisations – about a dozen or so – had been receiving large grants from Sida based on criteria that had been around for years. The Minister pointed to the broad diversity of civil society actors in Sweden and asked why one select group of NGOs had monopolised more than SEK 1 billion in annual grants over such a long period of time.

As a result of Carlsson’s efforts, for the first time in the fall of 2010, all Swedish civil society organisations working on international development issues became eligible to apply for Sida information grants (a small part of the NGO funding). And during 2011, Sida will design new criteria for NGOs seeking so-called “framework NGO” status. The idea is to open up the competition for multi-year grants that are worth tens, and even hundreds, of million of crowns.

Development Today has tracked the debate that has led up to these changes over the better part of a decade. Minister Carlsson’s desire to bring in new blood was not simply a reflection of her conservative politics. Almost ten years ago, the Swedish Parliament, under a Social Democratic government, directed Sida to update the selection criteria for framework NGOs. The process moved incredibly slowly. A crucial rule change, allowing foundations to receive framework funding, led to the addition of one organisation to the group in 2006. Two more were added in 2008. It remains to be seen how much the next Swedish government will allocate to NGO funding, how the new criteria will affect the status of the 15 “old” organisations, and whether any “new actors” will approved.

Here is a selection of articles on Swedish NGO funding:

• Funding for Swedish grassroots organisations at risk (Read)
• New actors compete for Sida information grants (Read)
• Ministry considers rule change to bring in new NGOs (Read)
• Carlsson aims to end Swedish NGOs’ monopoly on Sida funds (Read)
• In Sweden, NGOs fear further budget squeeze (Read)
• Sida kicks 15 NGOs out of funding race (Read)
• 18 new NGOs eye coveted Sida funding (Read)
• Swedish NGOs face 10% fundraising requirement on information (Read)
• New Minister re-thinks Swedish aid, takes on state agencies and NGOs (Read)
• Breakthrough likely for Plan Sweden, but not until next year (Read)
• Freeze in Swedish NGO budget, Sida warns organisations (Read)
• NGOs argue against including foundations in Sida ‘framework club’ (Read)
• Report: Sida excludes innovative NGOs due to outdated funding rules (Read)

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