IJ4EU’s Investigation Support Scheme provides grants of between €5,000 and €50,000 to support cross-border investigative projects in Europe. The scheme will provide €1.5 million in grants in 2024/25. It is managed by the International Press Institute (IPI).

There will be three calls for applications during the 2024/25 funding round.

The next call for applications opens on February 1, 2024.

The second call will be in the autumn of 2024 and the third in early 2025. The deadline for applications will be eight weeks from the launch of each call. Projects for funding will be chosen by an independent jury.

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.

Teams must have members based in at least two European countries that have signed up to the full cross-sectoral strand of the European Union’s Creative Europe Programme, which provides core funding for IJ4EU.

Eligible countries include all 27 EU member states and the following non-EU countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Ukraine.

Eligibility is based on residency (where you live and work) and not nationality (citizenship).

Team members based in countries anywhere else in the world are welcome to participate, but they must be part of teams that fulfil the core geographical criteria described above. In other words, they must be part of teams with members based in at least two participating Creative Europe countries in Europe. (For guidelines on including journalists or media organisations from further afield, visit our FAQ section.)

Teams can comprise any combination of members — including journalists working as part of newsroom structures as well as freelancers.

The proposed project must focus on a topic of cross-border relevance.

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 formats, 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; human rights; the environment and climate change; migration and public health.

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.

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 five 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 countries matching the geographical eligibility requirements described above. In other words, news organisations or platforms must be based in at least two European countries that have signed up to the full cross-sectoral strand of the European Union’s Creative Europe Programme.

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. 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, 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 should include a line in their budgets for routine legal screening.
  • Any anticipated tools, software, databases etc required to conduct the investigation. Applicants are expected to include a line in their budgets for any such resources.
  • 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 eligibility and applicants may be asked during this phase to supply additional information. Applications not meeting basic requirements will not be made available to the jury.

An independent jury will select the projects to be funded. The jury will comprise 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 from different countries across Europe.

All jury members must 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 or Arena) is permitted to sit on the jury to ensure maximum independence.

Any attempt by any donor or partner organisation to interfere in the jury’s decisions 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
  • The urgency of financial need or other assistance

In addition, the guidelines will instruct the jury to consider the overall package of grantees to ensure:

  • 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.

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 more than 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.

All IJ4EU grantees are eligible for one year of free membership of its global network of editors, media executives and prominent journalists.

Editorial support

Investigation Support Scheme 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.

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 [email protected].

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