Through the Internet Freedom Fund, OTF strives to uphold and increase capacity for individuals, organizations, and companies who support technology-centered efforts that aim to strengthen internet freedom and promote human rights by circumventing repressive censorship and surveillance, improving related digital security capabilities, and contributing to the overall health of the internet.
Ideal Internet Freedom Fund applicants are:
Ideal applications for this fund are focused on:
Ideal applications adhere to the following:
Candidates can apply for up to $900,000 and no less than $10,000 for a year long contract. Note, however, that OTF’s target support ceiling is $300,000, with most supported efforts receiving between $50,000 and $200,000. More information on OTF’s previous levels of support can be found in our Annual Reports.
Preference is given to organizations and individuals without a history of prior support, and who have a deep understanding of the surveillance, censorship and security issues affecting communities from the Global South living in repressive environments.
Strong priority goes to projects with the potential for immediate impact and long-term sustainability, and that make intellectual property publicly available via open licensing and open source code.
OTF highly values projects that incorporate collaborative partnerships with other organizations and/or individuals within the internet freedom community or their respective area of focus.
For an idea of the types of efforts OTF supports through the Internet Freedom Fund, here are a few projects that have previously received support through this fund:
Quality of project idea: Applications should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the mission of promoting freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online.
Ability to achieve objectives: A relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and logistical capacity of the organization. The work plan should adhere to the overview and guidelines described above. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable. After this application, OTF will request a full proposal, where applicants will have to provide a monthly timeline of project activities.
Cost effectiveness: Any overhead and administrative components included in the application should be kept as low as possible. All items should be necessary and appropriate. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged and is viewed favorably by OTF.
Multiplier effect/sustainability: Applications should address how the expected results will contribute to improving internet freedom goals. Applications should address how the effort will be sustained in the long-term.
Applicants’ record and capacity: OTF will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project’s objectives.
Submitting a concept note is always the first step to getting the process started. If your concept note is accepted, you will be invited to submit a full proposal.
For a full rundown of desired project criteria and the application process, head here.
Internet Freedom Fund concept notes are accepted on a rolling basis, with submission rounds closing every two months. For the next upcoming batch deadline, see the header at the top of this page.
To stay up to date on this and other OTF funding opportunities, sign up to join the OTF-announce mailing list.
All concept notes and proposals are reviewed by the OTF team. Proposals are also reviewed by an independent Advisory Council comprised of global experts who are well-known free expression defenders, technologists, academics, and other types of experts who have a deep knowledge of the intersection between human rights and technology. Advisory Council members voluntarily review and provide feedback to the OTF team on all proposals accepted for OTF funding.
Members of the Internet Freedom Fund Advisory Council review panel are:
OTF awards are performance-based contracts (see an example template here) signed directly with the applicant. Payment is issued on completion of stated objectives, activities, and deliverables per a schedule outlined in the contract. OTF reserves the right to award less or more than the funds requested as deemed in the best interest of OTF’s priorities.
Applications that request more than the award ceiling of $900,000 or less than the award floor of $10,000 may be deemed technically ineligible. Note that OTF’s target support ceiling is $300,000, with most supported efforts receiving between $50,000 and $200,000.
OTF awards are generally 6 to 18 months in duration. From time to time, OTF may consider requests to extend existing contracts beyond previously agreed upon durations. Any such decision will be subject to availability of funds, satisfactory progress of the applicants, and a determination that continued funding would be in the best interest of program priorities.
Successful applicants selected by OTF are paired with an OTF program manager who oversees all project monitoring and evaluation for the duration of the awarded contract lifecycle. Monitoring and evaluation assessments are largely based on predetermined and agreed upon metrics, deliverables, and goals as laid out by the applicant in the project proposal workplan.
As described above, because payment is dispersed at regular intervals upon completion of stated contractual goals, successful applicants can expect regular contact with their OTF project manager. Monitoring consists of compulsory monthly reports and also phone, email, or in-person discussions and consultations as needed.
Ideal applicants are making use of, support, or develop open and accessible technologies promoting human rights and open societies, and help advance inclusive and safe access to global communications networks. In addition, ideal applicants meet one or more of the following:
OTF prioritizes projects coming from individuals or organizations who are new to the internet freedom community and are requesting less than $300,000 for efforts with a duration less than 12 months. This allows us to empower a new pool of technology and development talent that may not have been otherwise supported.