IJ4EU’s Investigation Support Scheme provides grants of between €5,000 and €50,000 to support cross-border investigative projects. This scheme expects to provide €835,000 in grants in 2021. It is managed by the International Press Institute (IPI).

The Investigation Support Scheme was designed to have two calls in 2021.

  • The first call opened on June 1, 2021. The deadline for applications was six weeks later, at 23:59 CEST on July 14, 2021. 
  • The second call opens on August 23, 2021. It closes at 23:59 CEST on October 4, 2021. Successful applicants will be notified several weeks later once the independent jury has made its decision. 

Applications must be submitted via our secure Good Grants platform. Applicants are strongly encouraged to read thoroughly the full eligibility and application details below and to consult our FAQ page.

General eligibility

To be eligible under the Investigation Support Scheme, applications must be sent by teams of journalists and/or news organisations that meet the following criteria:

  • They must be based in at least two EU member states or at least one EU member state and the United Kingdom.
  • Third-country team members (including those in official EU candidate countries) are welcome to take part, but they must be part of teams with members based in at least two EU member states or one EU member state plus the UK.
  • Teams can comprise any combination of members — including journalists working as part of newsroom structures as well as freelancers. Please note that while the first call of the Investigation Support Scheme was only open to teams that included a newsroom element, the IJ4EU project partners decided to relax the eligibility criteria for the second call to include freelancer-only teams as well. The decision reflected the tremendous demand for financial support from newsrooms and freelancers alike.
  • The proposed project must focus on a topic of cross-border relevance.

(For guidelines on including journalists or media organisations from non-EU countries, please visit our FAQ section.)

The proposed project must aim to reveal new information. Applications must justify the relevance of the investigation for the public in the target countries or for the broader European public sphere. Investigative teams already in existence or formed for an IJ4EU project are equally welcome to apply.

IJ4EU will consider funding all platforms, including print, broadcast, online media, documentary filmmaking and multi-platform storytelling.

Eligible topics

Projects on all topics will be considered. This includes, but is not limited to, corruption, illicit enrichment and financial crime; security, democracy and human rights; environment and climate change; health, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

See examples of projects that previously received IJ4EU funding.

The fund is dedicated to supporting a diverse range of topics and teams across Europe. We welcome projects focusing on underreported issues. In addition, teams working in countries where investigative journalism is under pressure, including financial and political pressure, are especially encouraged to apply.

Funding details

The IJ4EU grant may cover any percentage of a project’s costs, up to 100 percent of the total. Co-funding is encouraged but not mandatory. Teams must declare any existing sources of funding on their application.

Applicants to the Investigation Support Scheme can request grants of between €5,000 and €50,000.

To ensure that IJ4EU can fund as many high-quality projects as possible — and recognising that cross-border projects don’t necessarily have to involve many countries to have an impact — we encourage applicants to think in terms of the following informal tier system, which is aimed at encouraging a diversity of budget sizes:

  • Tier 1: EUR 5,000 to 15,000 – For smaller, highly focused cross-border investigations
  • Tier 2: EUR 15,000 to 35,000 – For cross-border investigations requiring substantial resources
  • Tier 3: EUR 35,000 to 50,000 – For cross-border projects of exceptional scale and/or complexity

The tier system is for guidance only and comes with no specific criteria (such as the number of countries or team members involved).

The IJ4EU grant may be used to cover nearly any costs necessary for the production of journalistic content. This includes, but is not limited to, salary and human resource costs for both employed journalists and freelance journalists, research- and production-related costs, travel costs and translation costs. Hardware costs (e.g., computers and video cameras) are not eligible.

Teams must submit a budget as part of their application. We encourage applicants to use this model budget.

Selected projects will sign a grant agreement with IPI to receive the funds. The disbursement of funds will be made in three instalments:

  • 40 percent of the grant amount upon signing of the grant agreement.
  • 30 percent upon acceptance of a mid-term narrative report and completion of agreed milestones (due by the end of month four in the grant timetable).
  • 30 percent following fulfilment of the publication requirements and acceptance of final expenditure.

Final accounting and a narrative report will be due within 30 days of the end of the grant period.

Grantees will not be required to provide detailed documentation (e.g. receipts) of their spending or accounting information as a precondition of payment of the final instalment. However, grantees will be asked to keep all such relevant documents for three years and will be required to provide them upon request.

Publication requirements

To be eligible for funding, proposed projects must aim to be published by respected news organisations or platforms in at least two EU member states (or at least one EU member state and the United Kingdom).

The deadline for publication under the first call of the Investigation Support Scheme is January 31, 2022. The deadline for publication under the second call will be March 31, 2022.

Projects may initially be published behind a paywall but must be made available outside of the paywall after one month.

We understand that investigative journalism is an unpredictable enterprise, especially given the ongoing public health situation. Therefore, grant agreements will require that successful teams make every reasonable effort to have their work published by the deadline stated, or to inform IPI as soon as there are indications that these requirements cannot be met. The lead representatives of selected projects will be expected to stay in regular contact with IPI on the progress of investigative work and immediately communicate any (major) unexpected delays.

Publication will need to carry a note that the story was supported by the IJ4EU fund, as specified in the grant agreement.

Application requirements

The IJ4EU application process aims to be simple, secure and efficient.

All applications must be submitted in English via our Good Grants platform. Good Grants is a free-to-use secure platform for submission and storage. It is ISO/IEC 27001 certified and GDPR-compliant, and has multi-factor authentication, encrypted data, multi-tier backups and a secure multi-server architecture in VPC.

Each applicant team should designate a lead applicant that might be either an organisation or an individual. The lead applicant nominates a representative who should create a personal user account to ensure that the application can be submitted securely and so not to jeopardise the proposed investigation or those involved.

Applicants can save the application form and return to it until they have completed it and are ready to submit. Once the application is submitted, it can no longer be edited.

Only applications in English received via the Good Grants platform by the stated date and time will be considered. You will receive an email confirmation of your submission.

Brevity in supplying the information requested will be appreciated.

For the Investigation Support Scheme, teams whose lead applicants are individuals rather than news organisations will be required to submit the following information: name and contact details; journalistic qualifications (including an uploaded curriculum vitae); and details of any press associations that lead applicants are members of.

Teams whose lead applicants are news organisations must give contact information along with details about the organisation (including size, publication channels, language of publication and target audience) and upload a document describing the organisation’s editorial policy or code of conduct.

All Investigation Support Scheme applications must give an overview of the cross-border team of journalists or news organisations that plan to participate in the project, together with a brief explanation of why the team is qualified to carry out the project. They must indicate the countries where journalists or news organisations in the team are based.

Applicants must then complete the following sections:

  • Project description. A brief explanation of what they plan to investigate. It is understood that this outline may include tentative or so far unproven conclusions, but it must give a clear indication of the story the team hopes to tell and how it plans to substantiate it.
  • What new information will the proposed investigation reveal?
  • Project relevance. An indication of why this story (if proved and publishable) would be a contribution to the public interest in the countries involved and/or in the EU more broadly.
  • Research and publication plan. A description of the proposed research and activity timeline for the investigation and outline of the broadcast, publication or dissemination plan for the material.
  • Risk assessment. A description of the main risks associated with the completion of the project and how the team plans to mitigate against these risks.
  • Expected legal needs. A summary of the level and type of legal support that applicants foresee. Applicants must also include a line in their budgets for routine legal screening.
  • Uploaded letters of intent from publishers or broadcasters.
  • Total amount requested from IJ4EU (in EUR).
  • Uploaded project budget. Applicants are encouraged to use this model budget.
  • Budget justification. Any additional information needed to justify the costs included in the budget.

Selection process and timeline

Applications will undergo an initial pre-screening to review basic application requirements and applicants may be asked during this phase to supply additional information. Applications that do not meet basic requirements will not be forwarded to the jury.

An independent jury will select the projects to be funded. In 2020, the jury was chaired by Süddeutsche Zeitung Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Krach, a leading figure in the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers investigations. In 2021, the jury is chaired by Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, an award-winning Mexican investigative journalist. The names of the remaining jury members will not be revealed at least until the end of this grant cycle.

The jury will be made up of individuals with a deep understanding of the global challenges facing independent journalism, particularly in Europe, including practising journalists, editors, former journalists, media lawyers, academics or other relevant experts, originating from different countries across Europe.

All jury members will be required to commit to the highest ethical and professional standards and reject any effort to influence their decisions. Jury members will act independently from all donors and partners in the project. No direct or indirect representative of any donor or any IJ4EU partner (IPI, EJC, ECPMF) is permitted to sit on the jury so as to ensure maximum independence.

Any attempt by any donor or partner organisation to interfere in the decisions of the jury will be immediately reported to the rest of the jury. Jury members will be required to declare any possible conflicts of interest, and will be asked to recuse themselves on any judgment where such conflicts may interfere with independence or the public perception of independence. These recusals will be recorded.

The jury’s decision will take account of, but not necessarily confine itself to, the following criteria:

  • Cross-border relevance
  • Relevance of topic to European and local public
  • Newsworthiness and added value
  • Strength of research and publication plan
  • Expected impact and/or reach of the project
  • Feasibility of project within project timeline and budget
  • Applicants’ experience and journalistic credentials
  • Adequate risk assessment
  • Financial need

In addition, the guidelines will instruct the jury to consider the overall package of grantees with a view toward ensuring:

  • Geographical balance
  • Thematic balance
  • Balance among types of investigative teams
  • Attention is paid to underreported topics as well as investigative topics affecting local communities

Project support

IJ4EU provides legal editorial and practical support and guidance to grantees, to help ensure the success of the individual projects and teams, and of the IJ4EU project overall.

Legal contingency fund

IJ4EU has established a small legal contingency fund to support grantees. This fund is designed to provide additional financial support in the case of unforeseen legal costs, which can include the coverage of legal advice, lawyers’ fees or other support.

The legal aid fund is managed by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF). (Please note: any expected legal costs, such as standard pre-publication review, should be included in project budgets and cannot be covered by the legal aid fund.)

Advocacy support

As a global press freedom organisation with 70 years of experience, IPI is committed to defending the rights of the IJ4EU grantees to do their work free from interference.

Together with ECPMF, IPI is a member of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) network for addressing press freedom violations. Any threats to the work of IJ4EU grantees will be immediately reviewed by IPI for an appropriate response and, where appropriate, will be shared with other members of the MFRR for coordinated advocacy or other forms of response, including legal and practical support.

Editorial support

Grantees will also have access to editorial support in the form of an expert adviser. This adviser will be available to provide general advice to teams that face difficulties in the advancement of publication of their investigations.

This support — in line with clear internal guidelines established by the consortium — will not assume any form of editorial supervision so as to preserve the separation between donor and grantee, but will be able to offer general guidance that may prove valuable to teams that have hit a “pothole” in their work.

IJ4EU and COVID-19

The importance of investigative journalism is not diminished amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, it is amplified. However, the spread of the virus and the measures to contain it present unique challenges to cross-border investigative journalism. Here’s how the IJ4EU fund is responding.

  • First, as the IJ4EU fund is open to any topic, investigative projects related to COVID-19 are also eligible for funding, provided that they meet the application requirements.
  • Second, given the mobility and travel restrictions in place in many countries, as well as the particularly fast-changing news environment, we strongly encourage all applicants to plan and present their projects with this situation in mind. In terms of the application, this means that you should provide brief information on how you expect to be able to carry out your project in view of such possible restrictions and how you plan to adapt to any changes. It also means that you should ensure your project still has newsworthiness when published.
  • Third, we understand the unusual problems that COVID-19 presents. While teams should outline risks and adaptations to them in their grant applications, it is understood that there is a need for increased flexibility, including as relates to project changes and publication deadlines. Nevertheless, all teams must undertake best efforts to publish by the deadline and to keep us up-to-date with your efforts to complete the investigation and publish.

Questions and contact

Our FAQ section provides answers to many specific questions about the grant. For further questions, applicants should contact the International Press Institute at grants@ipi.media.