United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability

** Call for proposals is now closed for 2020. For 2021, applications will be accepted between 1 April and 1 June. **


A fund on disability was established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 32/133, in connection with preparations for the 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons. Later, the General Assembly decided in its resolution 40/31 that the Fund would be renamed the Voluntary Fund for the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992), and that its resources would support catalytic and innovative action to implement further the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons. By its resolution 47/88, the General Assembly decided that the Fund would continue in the period beyond the Decade as the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability, and that its terms of reference would include support for action to achieve the target of a "society for all" by the year 2010, as endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 45/91. In 2008, after the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was adopted and came into force, the General Assembly in its resolution 63/150, reaffirmed the role of the Fund to strengthen its capacity to support catalytic and innovative activities to fully implement development goals and objectives of the World Programme of Action, the Standard Rules and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), including the work of the Special Rapporteur. The United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability (UNVF) is administered by the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, within the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

What types of projects are eligible for assistance?

The Fund provides small grants to support catalytic and innovative activities that, among others:

  • Promote greater awareness of the CRPD and disability issues;
  • Support the implementation of the CRPD, including through the  mainstreaming of disability in regional, national or local development agenda;
  • Build capacity of stakeholders to improve livelihood and well-being of persons with disabilities in developing countries through implementation of the CRPD (stakeholders include organizations of persons with disabilities, their networks, other civil society organizations, Governments, private sector organizations, international development donors, etc);
  • Relationship to national development strategies, policies and programmes, and the CRPD
  • Foster exchange of knowledge and experience, as well as dissemination of inclusive and accessible policies and practices
  • Other considerations include multi-stakeholder partnerships and multiple donors, gender inclusive, new and emerging disability issues, and replicability in other developing countries.

As the UNVF is a small grants fund and resources are limited, priority is given to proposals seeking “seed-money” (as opposed to support for an organization’s general budget) to be used for projects involving catalytic and innovative actions and projects whose successes can be further replicated in other areas. Activities which are not eligible for funding include individual assistance, purchase of equipment (e.g. computers, cameras, assistive equipment and vehicles), construction of buildings, payment of rent or utilities, etc.

How to submit a project proposal:

  • Complete application forms and submit all required documents;
  • Applications should be submitted in English (other languages add to processing time);
  • Submit proposals via email, fax, or post (email submissions are preferred).

Contact information:

Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (SCRPD) Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) Email: enable@un.org

How are project proposals appraised?

Project proposals received are first reviewed by the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at DESA. Due to the limited amount of funding available and the large amount of proposals received, a few proposals are selected and forwarded to a Grants Committee made up of an interdisciplinary team of United Nations specialists. The Committee appraises and approves proposals for funding in respect to their consistency with the eligibility criteria, above. For more information, please see previous projects and activities supported.

How to prepare a project proposal?

All forms and accompanying documents should be submitted along with applications for funding from the UN Voluntary Fund on Disability

  1. Project Proposal Application for Grant Form (See Instructions and Budget Reference - Excel file)
  2. Summary cover page (See Instructions)
  3. No-objection letter (See sample of a No-objection letter)