Sat. Jun 10th, 2023

India open grants fund

Aim of the Fund

This Fund seeks to meet our strategic aim to enable vulnerable communities living in priority geographical areas to improve their lives.

Many communities in India have inherent strengths which are often overlooked when modern development frameworks are used to view them. They have closely knit societies, progressive views and approaches to resource utilisation and sustainability, and are extremely conscious of their relationship with the environment. Their traditional knowledge has relevance to modern ways of living.

But communities also face many challenges with inequality of opportunity, driven by a combination of social and systemic drivers that can be difficult to overcome without the right support. The opening up of spaces, development of infrastructure, particularly roads, and the modern development process have all caused shifts for local communities.

Movements, over time, of people to urban centres, driven by economic forces, have also transported some of these issues to urban centres. Urban development concerns emerge largely around building a balance between the hugely important roles that newly arrived communities have and will play and the ability of urban centres to provide for them.

Vulnerable communities

Among vulnerable communities we include the following as a non exclusive, indicative list of special interest groups that we will work with in both rural and urban areas:

  • Ultra poor families in mixed communities
  • Dalit communities, particularly those involved with inhuman occupations
  • Tribal communities fighting for or dispossessed of their land and resources
  • Women
  • Disabled people, particularly children
  • Communities with little or no access to health services
  • Communities with little or no access to education
  • Unorganised labour

This fund assists NGOs to consciously design and develop programmes which assist vulnerable communities to build on their strengths, ensure that their rights and entitlements are not usurped and help them deal with the critical factors that make them vulnerable.

Such communities need leadership that is forward-looking, able to generate enthusiasm among the community and able to lead the community towards paths that can help transform their realities. Leadership can emerge in the form of individuals or community organisations. We will fund initiatives that facilitate leadership-influenced change processes either by individuals or community organisations.

NGO initiatives that support development of community leadership and a better understanding of community concerns and their management are also supported.

Priority geographical areas

Work with vulnerable communities under our Open Grants Fund will be supported only in priority geographical areas.

Regional imbalances are significant in India and we are prioritising the less developed areas in the country. We will focus on the areas in the central part of the country which continue to remain on the margins of development and which continue to struggle with poor social and economic indicators. Our selected areas form the poorest parts of the country and stretch as a band between the eastern part of Gujarat in the west, to West Bengal and Assam in the east.

We support work in the following states:

  • Madhya Pradesh
  • Chhattisgarh
  • Odisha
  • Jharkhand
  • Bihar
  • West Bengal
  • Assam

In addition to these states we also support work in certain culturally identifiable regions in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan which are worse off than other parts in those states:

  • Mewar and Hadoti (southern and south-eastern Rajasthan)
  • Bundelkhand (Northern Madhya Pradesh and southern districts of Uttar Pradesh bordering Madhya Pradesh)
  • The Dangs (south-eastern Gujarat)
  • Telangana (northern Andhra Pradesh)
  • Vidharbha (eastern and northern Maharashtra

Overarching criteria

The following important concerns apply to all the work we fund.

We will support work which is intended to improve the overall wellbeing of communities, groups and people. The works may be in one or more thematic areas, whether health, education, governance, livelihoods, empowerment, or any other which assists them to deal with the immediate causes of their vulnerability but begins to look at the longer term factors that need to be addressed to help them get out of it.

Works proposed by NGOs for funding should fit in well with the NGO’s own long-term perspective plan. The justification for taking up such work should be clear and it should reflect the concerns of the communities. Communities should have played a core role in developing the ideas with the NGO.

More specifically, PHF will support work which results in an empowered community; which helps them address the factors that cause their vulnerability; and provides them an opportunity to look for long-term solutions to their problems either by strengthening themselves or influencing policy that works in their favour.

Local Self Government Institutions

We see the involvement of Local Self Government Institutions comprising both the panchayats (in rural areas) and the municipalities (in urban areas) as an essential sustainability mechanism for all the work that we fund. PHF will encourage NGOs to search for and develop the essential links between the work that they propose to implement and the role that the panchayats/municipalities play. Within every situation where this is possible, PHF will fund the enabling activities that facilitate the institutions of local self government to become stronger and more vibrant.


Organisations supported within the India programme have to be local Indian NGOs with Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration.

We do not support non-Indian organisations or locally registered branches of non-Indian organisations. We do not support organisations without FCRA registration (please note that we do not work on prior permission).

We do not support political or religious institutions.

If you do choose to pursue an application for support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, please ensure that you do it directly and not through consultants or fundraisers.

We prefer to work with organisations that have self-imposed and self-implemented policies on honesty and transparency in their finances and operations that are of the highest standard. We also prefer to work with organisations whose strategies and activities are formed on the basis of community leadership or participation, local knowledge and experience.

We will not support:

  • Individuals or proposals for the benefit of one individual
  • Retrospective funding for work that has already started
  • General circulars/appeals
  • Proposals that solely concentrate on the purchasing of property, equipment or other capital items
  • Overseas activities, including travel, expeditions, adventure and residential courses


We make grants that help fund specific activities. The costs of these may include running costs such as staff salaries and overheads such as stationary, rent, rates or utilities. You must be able to tell us how these costs are calculated.

We may also contribute towards the core costs of your organisation, but we will need to know how our funding would be spent and how you plan to develop the work of the organisation.

Size of grants

There is no minimum or maximum grant size. The amount you request should be the amount you need. We normally expect the amount requested to be a substantial part of the amount required to fund a distinct activity, or a substantial part of the work of your organisation. We are unlikely to fund 100 per cent of the costs. We prefer to make grants where you and/or another funder are also contributing, preferably in cash, towards the cost of the activity you are asking us to fund.

Duration of grants

The length of grant depends on the proposed activity. Typically, we support new grantees for one or two years to support organisational adjustments prior to awarding funding for longer periods.

For information on grants we have made in the past, search our grants database.


Applications for work under our Open Grants Fund can be made at any time. Applications are assessed in March and October each year. Please use the orange link to access our online application form.

You will need to complete an eligibility quiz to gain access to the form and begin a new application. This is to prevent you from wasting time on your application if you are ineligible.

If you have not applied to us before, you will need to create an account using your email address. Your log-in details will be sent to that email address, and you can access your application using the link we send you in that email, or by selecting the ‘return to existing application’ button on this page.

Strategic Plan

Click here to see the strategic plan for India (2013–21).



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