IJ4EU’s Investigaton Support scheme provides grants of up to €50,000 to new cross-border investigative projects. This scheme expects to provide €800,000 in grants in 2020.

There will be two calls in 2020 under the Investigation Support scheme.

  • The first call opened on 5 May 2020. The application deadline is 14 June 2020 (23:59).
  • The second call is expected to open on 10 August 2020. The application deadline is expected to be 18 September 2020

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

The Investigation Support scheme is managed by the International Press Institute (IPI).

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 one official EU candidate country;
  • The proposed project must focus on a topic of cross-border relevance; and
  • The proposed project must be a new project, one that has only recently begun or a new phase of an existing project.

The UK is treated as an EU member state. (For guidelines on including journalists or media organizations from other 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.

The Investigation Support scheme will provide support to three types of projects: new investigative projects; new phases of existing investigative projects; or investigative projects in early stages of developments. If you require funding to complete or publish an existing project, please see our Publication Support scheme. For more information on the difference between the two schemes, please see our FAQ section.

Freelance journalists, staff journalists and news organisations, or any combination of these, are equally welcome to apply. Beyond fulfilling the basic geographic criteria noted above, there are no restrictions regarding the composition of investigative teams or the number of team members. IJ4EU will consider funding all platforms, including print, broadcast, online media, documentary filmmaking and multi-platform story-telling.

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 here 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

Teams may request a minimum of €5,000 and a maximum of €50,000 in funding from IJ4EU. The IJ4EU grant may cover any percentage of a project’s total costs. However, co-funding is encouraged, and teams must declare any existing sources of funding on their application.

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 installments:

  • 40 percent of the grant amount upon signing of the grant agreement.
  • 30 percent upon acceptance of a mid-project report.
  • The remaining 30 percent following the submission of a final project report.

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 one EU candidate country). For the first call the publication deadline will be December 31, 2020. Publication may, of course, continue beyond this deadline. Projects may initially be published behind a paywall, but must be made available outside of the paywall after one month. The publication deadline for the second call will be announced in due course but will be roughly proportionate to that of the first call.

We understand that investigative journalism is an unpredictable enterprise, especially this year 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.

Application requirements

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

All applications must be submitted in English via the online Award Force platform. Award Force 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 Award Force 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.

The application for Investigation Support must include:

1. Background information on the lead applicant. Lead applicants who are individuals will need to upload a CV or other document indicating their history of working with trusted news organisations. Lead applicants who are news organisations will need to upload a document indicating their editorial or other newsroom policy.

2. Information on team composition and background. Applications should describe the full members of the investigative team and their relevant qualifications.

3. A brief description of the proposed project, highlighting its cross-border relevance, public relevance and what new knowledge it will provide. It is understood that this will be an outline of what is intended as a result of a hypothesis, tip or leak. The IJ4EU jury members will need as much information as possible to assess the strength and viability of a plan but will appreciate that there are aspects of investigative work that cannot be disclosed in advance.

4. A research and publication plan, describing the expected timeline for the investigation and the media outlets or platforms in which the project will be published, and the expected publication date.

5. Applicants are asked to upload two signed letters of intent from news organisations or platforms in two separate countries indicating that they would be willing to seriously consider publishing the investigation as described. It does not form a commitment on either side. However, if your team already includes news organisations/media platforms where the investigation will be published, and you have indicated this in your publication plan, you do not need to provide such letters.

6. A project budget that falls between the minimum and maximum grant amounts of €5,000 and €50,000. If IJ4EU is expected to cover only a percentage of the project, the full project budget should be included and other existing sources of funding should be noted. The budget does not need to specify in detail items that need to remain confidential during an investigation.

Applicants are encouraged to use this model budget.

7. A risk assessment, highlighting in particular how applicants plan to address any problems emerging from cooperation among journalists working in different countries as well as any other risks emerging from the particular topic proposed.

Selection process and timeline

The Investigation Support scheme will hold two calls in 2020. The first call opened on 5 May 2020. The deadline for this call is 14 June 2020 (23:59). Successful applicants will be notified no later than 31 July 2020.

The second call is expected to open on 10 August 2020, with an application deadline of 18 September 2020. We aim to notify selected projects by 31 October 2020 (dates for the second call are tentative).

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 is chaired by Süddeutsche Zeitung Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Krach, a leading figure in the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers investigations. The names of the remaining jury members will not be revealed at least until the end of this grant cycle.

The jury will consist of individuals with a thorough understanding of current journalistic needs in Europe and may be practicing journalists or editors, former journalists, media lawyers, academics or other experts. 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, including IPI and EJC. 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. This list of jury members for the 2018 IJ4EU grants can be viewed here.

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 jury will be instructed to consider the overall package of grantees with a view toward ensuring:

  • Geographical balance
  • Thematic balance
  • Balance among types of investigative types, including ensuring that freelance journalists are adequately represented
  • Attention is paid to underreported topics as well as investigative topics affecting local communities

Project support

IJ4EU provides training, coaching, legal counselling, editorial support, advocacy support and other practical support and guidance to grantees, to enhance skills development and ensure the success of the individual projects and teams, and of the IJ4EU project overall.

Boot camps

One team member of each selected project will be invited to attend a “boot camp” organized by the European Journalism Centre (EJC). The boot camps will serve to familiarise grantees with the grant and grant requirements, to network and exchange experiences among one another, to address any implementation and methodology questions with experts, and to kick-start cross border content exchange and syndication efforts. The boot camps will feature on-topic experts, award-winning investigative journalists, and sessions related to the nature and specifics of the funding scheme. Taking part in the boot camp is a requirement of the grant. All participation costs are covered by the grant separately from the project budget.

Any changes to the boot camps due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be communicated in due course.

Expert calls

Team members from selected projects will be invited to participate in three expert calls per funding round. These AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) sessions will take place will industry experts, and will cover topics such as fact-checking, verification, data reporting and online research.

Legal aid fund

IJ4EU has established a small legal aid 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) as part of ECPMF’s larger legal aid programme for journalists in Europe. (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 a coordinated advocacy or other form 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.

IJ4EU and COVID-19

The importance of investigative journalism is not diminished amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 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, projects that are specifically related to COVID-19 will be subject to an overall view of all viable grant applications. Depending on the number of COVID-19-related projects, the jury may – at its absolute discretion – in some cases propose mergers of teams.
  • Fourth, we understand the unusual problems that 2020 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.