Grants

Grants

The Digital Freedom Fund supports strategic litigation on digital rights in Europe that contributes to advancing human rights in the digital context. See answers to our frequently asked questions here.

We are accepting applications.

Our current call for applications runs until 14 February 2024.

Scroll down for more information and to see how to submit your application.

Our Programme Officer, Thomas, will run a series of “Ask us Anything” calls about our grantmaking at the following times.

  • Wednesday 29 November 2023, 11:00 CET
  • Monday 11 December 2023, 12:00 CET
  • Thursday 18 January 2024, 11:00 CET
  • Tuesday 30 January 2024, 11:00 CET

If you’d like to sign up please write to us by clicking the envelope symbol below.

Types of grants

Since 2018, we have approved 100 grants worth nearly EUR 3 million in total, and supporting the work of around 60 different groups in nearly 30 countries.
 
See examples of the activities we have supported so far on our case study page, where you can filter by different criteria, including grant type, issue area and organisation.
 
Currently we accept grant applications for two types of activities – litigation track support and pre-litigation research support. Starting in 2024, litigation track support grants can include post-litigation activities. See more about post-litigation support here.
Litigation

Litigation track support
Support for litigation of a case through multiple instances, from first instance through a final appeal.
Example: a challenge to the European Court of Human Rights against police use of facial recognition technology

Research

Pre-litigation research
Support for preparation required before planned litigation can begin. This could include legal research, evidence gathering, forum selection or finding claimants and partners. Example: a comparative study between EU jurisdictions to determine which one offers the best options to address a specific issue.

Litigation
Litigation track support

Support for litigation of a case through multiple instances, from first instance through to the final appeal.

Litigation track support grants can also include post-litigation activities, such as advocacy or enforcement activities following the judgement made in the final instance of litigation.

Example: a challenge before the European Court of Human Rights against police use of facial recognition technology, including a workshop following the final instance to share lessons from the ruling with the wider community.

Click on the image to see more examples.

Research
Pre-litigation research

Support for activities to prepare for planned litigation. This could include legal research, evidence gathering, forum selection or identifying claimants and project partners. It does not include broad research or general scoping about unplanned litigation.

Example: a comparative study between three EU jurisdictions to determine which one offers the best options to address a specific issue under an EU Directive.

Click on the image to see more examples.

Thematic focus areas

We are particularly interested in receiving applications for strategic cases that:

1.

Advance individuals' ability to exercise their right to privacy

1. Advance individuals' ability to exercise their right to privacy

Examples are cases that:

2.

Protect and promote the free flow of information online

2. Protect and promote the free flow of information online

Examples are cases that:

3.

Ensure accountability, transparency and the adherence to human rights standards in the use and design of technology

3. Ensure accountability, transparency and the adherence to human rights standards in the use and design of technology

Examples are cases that:

We also welcome applications for projects that fall outside these general thematic focus areas if they can contribute to advancing the respect for human rights in the digital sphere. Cases need to have the potential for impact extending beyond the parties directly involved in the case and for bringing about legislative, policy or social change.

Check out more examples of the cases we are supporting on our case studies page.

Grant application criteria

Digital rights

What does DFF consider "digital rights"?

DFF works with a broad definition of digital rights. We consider digital rights to be human rights as applicable in the digital sphere. The digital sphere covers both physically constructed spaces, such as infrastructure and devices, and spaces that are virtually constructed, such as online identities and communities.

Geographical scope

Geographical scope

DFF accepts grant applications concerning all Council of Europe Member States.

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Who can apply?​

We will consider applications from digital rights advocates (e.g. NGOs and other entities that pursue a public interest objective), pro bono lawyers, and other litigators seeking to protect and advance digital rights in Europe.

We fund not just digital rights organisations, but also provide support to racial, social, feminist, queer, environmental, migrant rights and economic justice movements and organisations working on digital rights.

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Grant size

As litigators work with different operational models and each case has different dimensions and complexities, grant amounts requested vary. Rather than working with a fixed case support fee, DFF will evaluate each case on its own merits in light of both the general grantmaking criteria and the principle of cost-efficiency.

Between 2020 and 2023, our annual grants budget was between EUR 600,000 and EUR 800,000, and we approved 15-20 applications per year.

So far the average size of a litigation track support grant is around EUR 50,000 and the average size of a pre-litigation research support grant is around EUR 30,000. We have approved grants as low as EUR 3,000, and some over EUR 100,000.

Strategic litigation

What does DFF consider “strategic” litigation?

In order to be considered strategic, litigation must have the potential to:

For further reading, see our three part blog series about strategic litigation.

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What does a successful application look like?

In your application, you must demonstrate to have carefully considered and be able to motivate: