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Civitates is a philanthropic initiative for democracy and solidarity in Europe. It provides funding for civil society actors to come together, revitalise public discourse, and ensure that all voices are heard. The pooled fund supports cross-sectoral coalitions that strengthen the resilience of the civil society sector, initiatives that push for a healthy digital public sphere, as well as independent, public interest journalism in Europe.

Since becoming operational in 2018, Civitates has provided 38 grants in 14 countries across Europe. In addition to providing funding, Civitates has a Funding Plus component, through which the fund provides capacity development and networking opportunities to its grantees.

Civitates, which has an annual budget of approximately 3M EUR, is supported by a large group of diverse foundations, of different shapes and sizes, which bring in a wealth of expertise and different perspectives. The initiative, which is hosted by the Network of European Foundations (NEF) and housed in the Philanthropy House in Brussels, builds on lessons learned from other pooled funds. Its secretariat is composed of three people, a Fund Manager and two Programme Officers.

Vision and mission

We believe in European democracies and their principles, where all citizens have the opportunity to access information, make their voices heard, organise, mobilise and engage fully in democratic processes.

As a collaborative philanthropic initiative, Civitates strengthens the capacity of civil society to play its indispensable role in shaping vibrant open European democracies that work for all.

Values and principles

Civitates is grounded in the values of the European Union: respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights and the rights of persons belonging to minorities. Weakened democratic systems threaten the efforts that have been made so far on different fronts and which depend largely on rights enshrined in the European project.

As stated by the Council of Europe, “the fast pace of social, economic and technological change makes it imperative to adapt the institutions of democracy to the requirements of the 21st century. The legitimacy of democracy – and its future – depends on the ability to open up new, attractive ways to engage with all citizens.”

Democracy needs constant investment and European philanthropy has an important role to play considering its track record in promoting democratic values, democratic practice, and European civil societies.

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