Western Balkans Guidelines

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) has been engaged in grantmaking in the Western Balkans since 2001, following 20 years of experience supporting transition processes and EU accession in Central and Eastern Europe. The Fund’s work has been predicated on the belief that long-term peace and prosperity in Europe can only be achieved with successful post-communist and post-conflict transitions of the countries of the Balkans. RBF grantmaking in the Western Balkans has aimed to nurture healthy democratic processes, support regional initiatives to debunk persistent myths and prejudices, and encourage development of indigenous philanthropy and a vibrant civil society.

The countries of the Western Balkans are still in a process of transformation to truly democratic societies where institutions of governance are transparent, accountable, and responsive, and citizens are informed and assertive. Although some reforms have been achieved, many challenges remain. Some of the obstacles reflect the legacy of conflict and unresolved tensions among countries and communities, and these must be addressed to realize justice, equality, and peace for all people in the region.

The Fund supports efforts of civil society groups, governmental institutions, and other partners to strengthen democratic practice, advance reconciliation and durable peace, enable sustainable development, and promote a European future for the region. The Fund values and highlights the richness of the region’s ethnic, gender, age, cultural, and racial diversity and promotes pluralistic and inclusive societies. Efforts at the regional, national, and local levels, including grassroots engagement and movement building, are supported.

The Fund focuses on Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Albania and North Macedonia also included in regional initiatives. The interdependence among the countries, the common challenges they face, and the potential they share as a subregion within Europe present a unique opportunity for successful transformation, integration, and long-term stability.

The RBF is pursuing the following goal and strategies across the Western Balkans region:

Goal: Advance a peaceful, democratic, and European Western Balkans


  • Supporting efforts to improve transparency and accountability in governance.
  • Strengthening constituencies for reconciliation and enduring peace.
  • Advancing sustainable development, focusing on renewable energy and healthy environments.
  • Supporting the development of indigenous philanthropy to advance social transformation.

The Fund prioritizes support for organizations in the Western Balkans.

Featured Grantees

Members of the Youth Club of Nikšić line up to plant saplings in Montenegro's second largest city in 2014. (Image courtesy of Forum mladi i neformalna edukacija.)
Forum MNE
A screening at the opening ceremony of DokuFest 2011 in Prizren, Kosovo.

News and updates

The Western Balkans: A Region in Transition

A new Western Balkans program team examined the current state of affairs in the region and recalibrated our grantmaking guidelines to prioritize democratic practice and peacebuilding efforts.

Qendra Multimedia’s ‘55 Shades of Gay’ Grapples with Social Reform in Kosovo

The envelope-pushing satire about the challenges and paradoxes of inclusion in the Balkans made its U.S. premiere in March.

Mia Vukojević Joins the RBF to Lead Western Balkans Program

Ms. Vukojević’s career in public service includes working on humanitarian aid and grantmaking projects across five continents. She most recently focused on issues affecting women for the Oak Foundation and served as the executive director of Serbia's Trag Foundation.