Rapid Response Fund

Fast support for urgent digital emergencies

The Rapid Response Fund is OTF’s digital emergency response mechanism, providing short-term, urgently needed support in the face of time-sensitive internet freedom violations. If you or your organization work in the fields of human rights, activism, or journalism and media and have recently experienced a digital emergency, our Rapid Response Fund may be able to help, either through direct financial support or through technological services conducted by our trusted service partners.

Key Questions

When we review a Rapid Response application, there are a few questions we always keep in mind. Beyond determining whether the proposed effort fits within OTF’s remit, some of the most important to keep in mind before applying:

Does the proposed effort address an emergency situation? Is it time sensitive?

Unlike our other support mechanisms, the Rapid Response Fund addresses emergency, time-bound events and circumstances. Rapid Response does not support long-term projects or those that do not address a recent or ongoing internet freedom violation.

Does the proposed effort aim to provide trainings or other longer-term digital security improvements?

The Rapid Response Fund does not support longer-term capacity-building efforts. If If you are interested in receiving support for longer-term capacity building, we invite you to consider exploring OTF’s Digital Integrity Fellowship Program.

Important Considerations

We work only with trusted Rapid Response service providers who possess awareness and deep insight into the threats facing human rights activists, journalists, and the broader internet freedom community. Our current partners include Virtual Road and Greenhost.

Applicants may request funding for between $1 and $50,000 for efforts under six months in duration. Average Rapid Response support is between $5,000 and $25,000.

Our currently supported Rapid Response services include

  • Digital security audits for organizations

  • DDoS response and mitigation

  • Secure web hosting

  • Secure hosting, monitoring, and resiliency of websites during special, politically sensitive events (elections, campaigns etc.)

  • VPN connections

  • Safe internet connections

  • Forensic analysis of digital attacks

  • Recovery of compromised websites

  • Audit of presumably compromised websites

  • Malware analysis

When to Apply

We accept and review applications for the Rapid Response Fund on an ongoing basis as they’re received. There are no deadlines or application rounds for Rapid Response. This ensures that digital emergencies can be addressed in real time. We aim to assess Rapid Response applications as quickly as possible, with a goal of making funding determinations within 5 days.

Review Process

  1. Concept Note Submission and Review: As soon as we receive a Rapid Response concept note, reviews are assigned and conducted - usually within 48 hours. We may contact you with clarifying questions before reaching a decision.

  2. Advisory Council Review: If the OTF team approves your concept note, we share it with our Advisory Council (AC), which is made up of a diverse array of subject matter experts who understand various relevant fields and issues as they relate to Internet freedom. At least two AC members will review the considered concept note. A subset of our Advisory Council reviews Rapid Response applications specifically; you can find OTF’s Rapid Response AC members listed on the Rapid Response request page.

  3. Concept Note Determination: Upon successful review by the OTF team and Advisory Council, we will inform you whether your applications has been accepted.

  4. Legal Review: Approved Rapid Response applications are reviewed by our executive, legal and financial departments. If you reach this stage, OTF’s Director of Digital Safety will work with you on completing this step.

  5. Contract Issued: Once the contract has been approved, it will be issued to the applicant to sign and return. Note that each contract includes standard provisions for U.S. Government funded agreements. A sample contract can be viewed here.

  6. Project Oversight: OTF’s Director of Digital Safety will assist you for the duration of your contract. All OTF-issued contracts provision for consistent and diligent oversight that go beyond the minimum accountability safeguards and requirements. Please note that payments are only made once OTF determines that contract deliverables have been satisfactorily completed.