UN agencies

For a searchable list of current funding opportunities see the GFMD website.

All description and entries are taken from the sites of the featured agencies or organisations. We endeavour to update the profiles every 6 months. For the most up-to-date information please visit the website of the relevant organisation.

UN agencies

Many disburse grants through local missions, focusing on areas such as training, advocacy and programme development.

The funding ceilings are generally modest and the administrative burden can be disproportionately high.

Some of the calls for proposals are unrealistic about what can be achieved for the amount of funding on offer.

The UN agencies that most commonly fund media projects are:

International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC)

The IPDC is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobiliize the international community to discuss and promote media development in developing countries.

Funding opportunities: IPDC is funded almost entirely by UNESCO member states for work in developing countries. IPDC distributes about $1 million annually in small grants, and supervises a variable amount of “Funds-in-Trust” for specific projects suggested and funded by various governments.

Themes: Media pluralism and independence, promoting the safety of journalists, supporting law reform fostering media independence, capacity building for journalists and media managers.

Types of funding: Grants

Amount of funding: $1 million - annually

View profile on the CIMA website (Last updated March 2017)

United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF)

UNDEF funds, helps design, manages, mentors, and generates projects that contribute to strengthening democracy.

Funding opportunities: UNDEF supports projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes. UNDEF projects are two years long. Applicants can request a grant of a minimum of 100,000 US dollars and a maximum of 300,000 US dollars. The large majority of UNDEF funds go to local civil society organizations.

Themes: Media and freedom of information, youth engagement, rule of law and human rights; strengthening civil society interaction with government and community engagement.

Types of funding: Core grants

United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

As the United Nations lead agency on international development, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) works in 170 countries and territories to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality. The organisation helps countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities, and to build resilience to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Their work is concentrated in three focus areas; sustainable development, democratic governance and peace building, and climate and disaster resilience.

UNDP’s mandate is to end poverty, build democratic governance, rule of law, and inclusive institutions. They advocate for change, and connect countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life.

UNDP is based on the merging of the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance, created in 1949, and the United Nations Special Fund, established in 1958. UNDP, as we know it now, was established in 1965 by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

UNDP relies entirely on voluntary contributions from UN Member States, multilateral organizations, private sector and other sources, in the form of unrestricted regular resources (core), and contributions earmarked for a specific theme, programme or project.

Funding opportunities:

UNDP Funding Windows: UNDP's Funding Windows are a pooled, flexible funding mechanism that provide a strategic opportunity for partners to contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The four thematic Funding Windows are:

  • Poverty and inequality

  • Governance, peacebuilding, crisis and resilience: Democratic Governance, Conflict Prevention and Sustaining Peace, Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction, Crisis Response

  • Nature, Climate and Energy

  • Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

For more information on grant allocations see here.

UNDP Small Grants Programme: Established in 1992, the year of the Rio Earth Summit, the GEF Small Grants Programme embodies the essence of sustainable development by "thinking globally acting locally". By providing financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people's well-being and livelihoods, SGP demonstrates that community action can maintain the fine balance between human needs and environmental imperatives.

Themes: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aim to significantly reduce all forms of violence, and work with governments and communities to end conflict and insecurity. Promoting the rule of law and human rights are key to this process, as is reducing the flow of illicit arms and strengthening the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance.

Types of funding: Programmatic

Amount of funding: N/A

Amount of funding: 100,000 - 300,000 US dollars

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture.

Funding opportunities: UNESCO administers the Global Media Defence Fund, which is a Multi-Partner Trust Fund with the goal of enhancing media protection and improving the access of journalists to specialized legal assistance which takes into account the gendered nature of threats against journalists.

Themes: Media freedom, investigative journalism, tackling impunity for crimes against journalists and enhancing freedom of expression.

Types of funding: Grants

Amount of funding: The Global Media Defence Fund was made possible thanks to the initial major donations by the United Kingdom and Canada and their respective pledges of £3 million (USD $3,7 million) over five years and of 2 million Canadian Dollars (USD $1,500,000) to the Fund for its first year of operation. Additional donations have been received by the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Luxemburg.

United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF)

UNICEF works in the world’s toughest places to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents – and to protect the rights of every child, everywhere.

Funding opportunities: The UNICEF Innovation Fund quickly assesses, funds, and grows open-source digital public goods that have been developed in new and emerging markets. It provide early stage funding and support to frontier technology solutions that benefit children and the world.

Themes: UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality education and skill building, HIV prevention and treatment for mothers and babies, and the protection of children and adolescents from violence and exploitation.

Types of funding: Programmatic

Amount of funding: N/A


For a searchable list of current funding opportunities see the GFMD website.

If an organisation or an opportunity is missing, get in touch!

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