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Numbers and reflections


Grant support

About the program

Grant Program of ЗMIN 2023 to support initiatives, organizations, and social change providers  who are adaptive to respond to challenges of the war, and also  continue planning and strategizing for recovery with a focus on  quality change in the region. The context of the full scale war brings new circumstances and  challenges but also intensifies the processes of critical social  change and search for new innovative models.


  • 168 application received
  • 9 failed the technical selection
  • 39 projects passed the second stage of selection
  • 3 applied after the deadline
  • 16 teams are selected at the final stage
  • 1 the team didn't continue cooperation after the interview
  • 1 the team refused to cooperate in the Grant format at the equator of implementation
It was surprising to see many projects with the requested grant amount of a precise UAH 300,000. The requested amount rather implies the inattentive and unthorough approach to budgeting.
Khrystyna Rutar, program coordinator, in charge for ЗМІN Grant Program


The Call prioritized the focus on the region that could offer a warm contact and engagement with the teams addressing global challenges on a microlevel. The number of
applications with Lviv as an area of implementation - 21%.

Target audience

Most applications target vulnerable groups, followed by young people and broad audiences. The number of projects focusing on internally displaced people as a target
audience - 87%.

Formats, approaches and tools

The prevalent demand was to support the hard part: reinforcing infrastructure, procurement of equipment or furniture for hubs, repairs of premises. Trainings are still a rather popular request. Improvement of infrastructure used to be in high demand also before the war. today, the need is going to grow further. The Foundations' Team understands such requests but the investment into infrastructure projects is considered as part sustainable cooperation. That is why the first grant-based contact with the project largely focusing on this format has not been prioritized.


The implementation of the ЗMIN Grant Call is usually accompanied by the outline of expectations. It means to plan the topics, frameworks, and policies before the call
opens. After the effort, we analyze and evaluate the outcomes. We take into account the shortcomings and good practices for more efficient planning of the next calls.
The grant format is a good way to highlight the topics and issues in focus of the sector actors. We can see how they respond, what solutions and tools they offer, and,
ultimately, what linguistic framework they choose to describe it. With wartime in mind, it is also an opportunity to analyze the actual needs of organizations in order to be able to invest resources more effectively in the future.

Conclusions around this year's Grant Call

  • The sector is active
    Organizations have grown their capacity. The teams fully implement their activities during a full-scale war. Perhaps even more intensely and actively.
  • Non-horizontal relationships
    There is an understanding of the rather instrumental, one-time vertical vision of the partnership between the grantor and the grantees. Our playing fields are different. Hence the complexity. Therefore, we understand that we should better articulate our expectations and communicate more.
  • What changes does the organization act for?
    In most applications, the main lines for financing institutional activities were laid down in order to maintain the team and continue the implementation of projects. This is a rather logical and common need. However, the applications lacked the transparency in the clear articulation of purpose.
  • Search for words, topics, and new approaches
    Society and sectoral players responded to the challenges brought by the full-scale war with unprecedented speed and flexibility. With the return to sustainable activities and tracks, there is an awareness that previous techniques and white papers do not work. From this comes the understanding that we all need to rethink, rewrite, and outline new approaches and topics. We may anticipate a rather difficult and long period to come.
  • Search for words, topics, and new approaches
    Society and sectoral players responded to the challenges brought by the full-scale war with unprecedented speed and flexibility. With the return to sustainable activities and tracks, there is an awareness that previous techniques and white papers do not work. From this comes the understanding that we all need to rethink, rewrite, and outline new approaches and topics. We may anticipate a rather difficult and long period to come.
  • General rules of the game
    We took some knocks and lessons, and we now realize that for better understanding and meeting of expectations on both sides, the rules of interaction should be better spelled out and articulated.

There is another golden rule: to speak, to hear, and to remember why and where.

Khrystyna Boyko, director ЗМІN

Here are my 5 key messages:

  • The prevailing number of projects target IDPs. It is virtually impossible to distinguish between the exploitative and the high-quality projects. Most of them assume the function of either social policy of the state (employment, housing), or offer highly specific professional assistance (such as psychological), without having any competencies, powers, or resources for implementation. This is done by big specialized organizations with large human, time, and financial resources, but this is not the focus of a private local Foundation. Ongoing separation of IDPs from other social groups, which will create problems in the future and will not contribute to the integration and self-sufficiency. Quite the opposite. Recommendation: Either abandon IDP projects at all, or distinguish them into a separate grant line. It will give room to other efforts and will not bring the overwhelming number of poor-quality exploitative "social" projects. This area should be covered by specialized funds.
  • The projects with a long-term effect must be highlighted. It may look like a simple procurement today, but it will work for a long time and for many users. However, there must be a clear and visible scope. It shall not be an interactive classroom whiteboard that will be collecting dust, but something like bicycles for social service, a sports ground for a psychoneurology boarding school, or a virtual tour.
  • Focus on projects that are not “for somebody” but rather “with somebody”. Currently, there is a persistent feeling that the target audiences of the projects are losing their agency, and turn into objects of imposed assistance, regardless of their actual needs and desires.
  • Project timilines. Unfortunately, the specifics of grant calls provides for limited deadlines. I wish we could introduce an anti-global policy in the project concepts and in the descriptions of their outcomes. It might make sense to optimize the application form in order to downplay the sky-rocketing ambitions of the applicants.
  • It is interesting to pay attention to projects that record and document all manifestations of life during the war. It is an investment in future studies and monographs of the entire world about this war. It is critical to have.
Iryna Magdysh, guest expert for the second stage of selection

After the experience of the grant calls coordinator in the public field, it is valuable to try to be on the other side of the fence, in the role of an expert who works with
project applications for a private foundation. In this regard, I would like to highlight the following:

  • Liability. There is always someone who has at least some power to choose. However, it will be a mistake to assume that the responsibility during the grant call is one-sided. On the contrary, the applicant also has the responsibility of the initiative and the power to defend and implement their plans. During the spring grant call, not all teams were prepared to accept that responsibility.
  • The principles of the grant call were based on engagement, adaptability, sustainability, and innovation. The combination seems to be rather rare in organizations; and the proposed bar is too high. The criteria for applicants could be optimized further.
  • Trust. Someone needs to take a risk and be the first to offer their hand (and the hand of the Other might not be lifted back against). The ЗMIN team fosters trust-
    based relations with grantees, which implies a certain vulnerability because when choosing young teams, there is always a risk of disappointment. Being in a vulnerable position, ЗMIN offers a hand to idea-driven activists, which is a powerful boost for them to work harder. Trust was the basis for building a sustainable future for organizations during the grant call (side effect - a certain share of disappointing projects). I believe it is a very mature position that invests in a responsible third sector (see item 1)
  • “What if” – there is always a small number of organizations that do not exquisitely elaborate their applications but hope to be lucky. Sometimes, this strategy really works, but only sometimes. During the spring grant campaign, the teams that did not bother to read the application requirements or the criteria for budgeting were immediately recognizable. For me, it was a challenge whether to choose the right idea but a failed team, or vice versa. I think the idea itself is not enough. At this stage, the tool of interviews really works, when you can see the project capacity of the teams and avoid the short-lived projects.
  • The grant program might have had too wide a scope, even geographically. It resulted in a large number of infrastructure and/or vulnerable projects outside the scope of the call. That is why there were many non-eligible projects right away.
  • It was striking that, in addition to capital, the selected projects also incorporated expertise and sensitive support. Such professional mentoring seems to me rather
    resource-intensive but it is a strong position of long-term effort. Getting expertise, in addition to financial support, is a luxury for grantees, which must be appreciated.
Iryna Rybko, guest expert for ЗМІN

This year's Grant Program was my first experience with this format. It is important to outline two areas of communication.

The ЗMIN communication about the 2023 Grant Program focused on the following:

  • Attention to the roll-out of the call and the details prescribed in the Guidelines.
  • Timeliness of informing about the progress and changes in the Grant Program.
  • Clarity of information

I have two striking observations about the communication strategy of the Grant Program applicants:

  • Teams can talk about themselves. ЗMIN received 168 applications. It was good to see that some projects will be well covered by communication due to the existing visibility and the engaged supportive audience.
  • Lack of a clear understanding of the key components of communication. Some teams neglected the good development of communication campaigns, which came as a fly in the ointment. You could immediately see the copy-pasted list of media for sharing releases about projects. The teams were not familiar with the specifics of content produced by the listed media resources. They did not always rely on the needs of the project's target audience.
Daryna Shutiak, communication manager at ЗМІN

What does the Grant Program offer?

The Grant Program allows us to see those teams that for some reason stayed out of our attention, and invite them to cooperate. I am impressed by the dynamics of the Grant Program from ЗMIN: we are receiving increasingly more applications from Lviv-based teams who are significant for us as we focus on local impact.

What does the grant format offer?
For me, it's about duties and responsibilities, and also about transparency. Of course, we could sit down with the team and individually support the initiatives that we favour, that we care about, and which activities we strive to scale. We want to get to know them better and cooperate with them. However, we must admit that it is extremely subjective. That is why, we have several selection stages, as well as independent experts who help us evaluate applications and select new partners for ЗMIN.
After all, I must say that the format when we reach out to the team with an offer of support can be underestimated. In this case, the partner's responsibility for the resources we invest will be one-sided, and will not be treated as a reciprocal partnership. On the other hand, when a team applies with the proposal and is chosen, it could guarantee mutual partnership and the desire for cooperation and common rules of the game.

What are the risks?
Despite the fact that we carefully read the application, as well as get to know the team, there is a risk of partnering with a team that only declares values but does
not share them. There is a risk of stumbling upon a consumer-based grant-eating attitude, which can literally eat away at our good intentions.

What are the benefits?
Despite the risk awareness, we are happy to offer our helping hand and get a valuable and empathic partnership that grows into a sustainable and strategic cooperation. Then, together we could change our tomorrow in a meaningful and effective way.

Khrystyna Rutar, program coordinator, in charge for the ЗМІN Grant Program

Report of ЗМІN Grant Program 2023

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