OSF-SA Special Call for Proposals

Advocacy initiatives for state funding, recognition and regulation of community justice services in South Africa

Project Objective

Following the March 2019 workshop on People Power: Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment hosted by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA), we invite proposals and innovative project ideas from organisations that would like to develop, and lead national and international advocacy efforts designed to promote the statutory recognition, regulation and the provision of public funding for community justice services in South Africa.

Proposal Due Date

Proposals with comprehensive budgets are due by 26 July 2019.
Please use the official OSF-SA budget template found here.

Project Budget

Applications for support projects can vary from ZAR 50 000 to ZAR 1 000 000 for projects to be delivered over a period of 6 – 24 months.
Note: A maximum of 5 projects will be funded through this Open Call.

Background and Context

The South African National Development Plan – Vision 2030 outlines a strategy to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality. Specific focus areas include: Creating jobs and livelihoods; Providing quality healthcare; Building a capable state; Fighting corruption and enhancing accountability; and transforming society and uniting the nation1. Access to justice and legal empowerment of the marginalised and poor is a key lever for realising these priorities.

South African paralegals play a critical, even though under recognised, role in realising access to justice services and expanding legal empowerment efforts. Community Advice Offices (CAOs) provide support to marginalised and remote communities by undertaking a wide range of services to help clients resolve problems and enforce their rights. Community-based paralegals regularly operate beyond the capacity, locality, or comfort of the regulated legal profession. They provide grassroot legal assistance straddling a range of formal, administrative and community-based institutions.2

Despite documented evidence of the value of community advice offices, the sector faces unprecedented challenges including reduced funding support, lack of formal recognition by government and key stakeholders and often no coordinated voice to speak on issues that affect the sector. There is therefore a need to develop a coordinated, coherent advocacy plan, to advocate for state funding, statutory recognition and regulation.

The Project

OSF-SA invites proposals from organisations based in South Africa, to develop and implement innovative advocacy initiatives on this issue.

In particular, initiatives that:

  • Are innovative;
  • Strengthen the voice of CAOs in policy advocacy efforts;
  • Deepen genuine collaboration within the CAO sector;
  • Develop and promote deeper understanding of regulatory models, informed by recognition, regulation and support of independent civil society models in other sectors;
  • Synthesise and operationalise research and case management strategies within the CAO sector to strengthen advocacy strategies; and
  • Explore how litigation strategies might be used to 1) advance recognition, regulation and public financing of independent CAOs and / or 2) maintain the independence of publicly financed CAOs.

Proposals that incorporate the following will be prioritised:

  • Joint proposals that are co-created by multiple partner organisations.
  • Proposals that incorporate a range of innovative strategies and tactics.
  • Proposals that build on discussions from the People Power: Access to Justice and Legal Empowerment meeting (held in March 2019).

Selection Criteria

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • The primary project partner must be a non-government organisation (NGO) registered and located in South Africa.
  • The proposal must include at least two South African based partner organisations/institutions.
  • Gender, race, age and geographic diversity within the implementation team.
  • Innovation, methodology, feasibility and likelihood of success.
  • Proposed budget.
  • Demonstrated expertise and experience related to the issues and activities proposed.

Shortlisted projects may be required to submit additional information.

Any queries relating to this call for proposal are to be directed to EDO@osfsa.org.za

Proposal format

Proposal should be no longer than 5 pages (not including the budget) and should at the minimum, should respond to the following headings:

  1. Context: Describe the external environment in which the project is to be delivered.
  2. Problem statement: What is it that the project aims to address?
  3. Approach: How will this project address the issues described in the problem statement?
  4. Anticipated outcomes: What will the project achieve?
  5. Partnership: List the partners and the expertise they bring to the project.
  6. Funding requested: How much money will be needed over what period?
  7. Required Resources: What resourcing (besides money) will the project need to ensure success?

In addition to the proposal document, the applicants should also submit a cover letter signed by all of the collaborating institutions.

Submission process

Full proposals are to be returned to OSF-SA in electronic format (MS Word or PDF), by close of business on 26 July 2019. Proposals are to be sent to EDO@osfsa.org.za

Successful applicants will be notified by 30 September 2019.


1 National Planning Commission. (2012). National Development Plan 2030: Our Future-make it work. Pretoria.
2 Dugard, J. and Drage, K. (2013). To Whom Do the People Take Their Issues?” The Contribution of Community-Based Paralegals to Access to Justice in South Africa. Justice and development working paper series; no. 21. World Bank, Washington, DC.