Rural Development Programme (LEADER) 2014 – 2020

Have a business idea, a plan for your community or a project you think could benefit you, your family, your farm or your local community?

Grants of up to €200,000 are available under the Rural Development Programme (LEADER) 2014-2020.  The priority of LEADER is to promote social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas. “LEADER is all about local people coming up with ideas that help to economically sustain and improve the quality of life in their local areas,” says Frank Kelly, LEADER Programme Manager at Donegal Local Development.  He added that “the budget for this LEADER programme has been reduced by up to 50%, from €25 million in the previous programme to €12.8 million this time around, so we are expecting that there will be quite a bit of competition for grants”.

CLICK HERE  for details about the wide range of projects in County Donegal which have previously benefited from LEADER funding.


Economic Development, Enterprise Development & Job Creation

Social Inclusion

Rural Environment

The LEADER Programme includes 3 main themes and 9 sub-themes as outlined above.  The sub-themes are considered to be the key areas in need of the greatest support and have the greatest potential to promote the sustainable development of rural communities.

The Local Development Strategy (LDS) is a strategic action plan that sets out a framework for the delivery of the LEADER programme in County Donegal. The LDS is a community-led plan and has been designed to leverage LEADER funding to address locally identified needs/priorities and to achieve a defined set of local objectives which were identified following a public consultation process. All funding decisions are underpinned by the LDS objectives and priorities.  For a project to be eligible for LEADER funding, it must be in line with at least one of the LDS objectives. CLICK HERE for information on the LDS objectives.

There are two types of calls; rolling calls and targeted calls. Funding applications for projects that fit under the ‘rolling call’ will be accepted on a ‘first come, first served’ basis’ and are not subject to any application deadlines.

Funding applications for projects that fit under the ‘targeted call’ are subject to application deadlines. Project areas covered by the targeted call will be ineligible under the ‘rolling call’ process for 6 months following the closing date of the ‘targeted call’.

For information on the Rolling and Targeted Calls and to see which call type your project falls under, Click Below:

Information on Rolling and Targeted Calls (PDF)

Information on Rolling and Targeted Calls (Excel Doc)

The Application process is a two stage process as outlined below:


All potential applicants must complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) prior to submitting a funding application.

CLICK HERE to download the EOI form.

Applicants are encouraged to first make contact with the relevant Project Officer prior to submitting the EOI. This initial engagement will enable the applicant to discuss the details of the project with the Project Officer, who will help assess the eligibility of the proposal. CLICK HERE  for contact details of the Project Officer in your area.

The purpose of the EOI stage is to assess the eligibility of the project. A project would be considered ‘eligible in principle’ at EOI stage if the proposed project activities/costs are eligible and if the project activities are in line with the LDS objectives. The applicant will be notified in writing of the outcome of the EOI stage.

CLICK HERE for information on eligible and ineligible activities and costs.

CLICK HERE for information on the LDS objectives.

Those successful at EOI stage will be invited to submit an application as part of the second stage. Applicants will be given an Application Form and Check List outlining all the supporting documentation required to accompany the application.

The application form and all supporting documentation will be reviewed by the Project Officer. Only complete applications will proceed to the Evaluation stage. Incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant and will not proceed any further in the evaluation process.

An Evaluation Committee will assess and evaluate the application based on objective criteria and make a recommendation for funding to the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC). The LCDC will consider the Evaluation Committee recommendation and make a decision on whether to approve funding. The applicant will be notified in writing of the outcome of the Application.

In general, private projects can avail of up to a maximum rate of 50% for Capital and 75% for Analysis & Development, while community projects can avail of 75% and 90% respectively. Basic Services targeted at hard to reach communities may also be funded up to 90% for community projects where there is no commercial basis for the project. Training projects may avail of up to 100% grant rate.

In general a ceiling of € 200,000 grant-aid per project will apply. The maximum grant available for analysis and development is € 30,000. Please note the grant ceiling for projects covered by the targeted call may differ from those outlined above. For details of the targeted call grant ceilings, CLICK HERE.

Grant-aid to any one entity may not exceed €200,000 in any three-year period where the activity has an economic element.  Activity offering goods and services on a market is classed as economic activity regardless if the entity has a for profit orientation or not. (The key date is the date of award of funding, while the three-year period will examine the three previous fiscal years including the current year).

Grant-aid cannot be provided if it will result in displacement e.g. closure/loss of business for another enterprise elsewhere. Displacement occurs where an activity funded using public funds impacts negatively on activity elsewhere. Funded activities do not need to be identical to activities in existence to result in displacement.

Grant-aid cannot be provided where the project could proceed without LEADER funding. The applicant’s financial capacity to deliver the project without grant aid will be examined during the assessment process.


More information about the LEADER Programme is available by contacting the relevant Project Officer for your local area. CLICK HERE for contact details of the Project Officer in your local area.

Frank Kelly
RDP Programme Manager

Sinead McLaughlin
Project Officer

Aisling McGee
Project Officer

Laura Martin
Project Officer

The Rural Development Programme (LEADER) 2014 – 2020 is supported by:

  • The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas CLICK HERE for further information.
  • The Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs CLICK HERE for further information

More information about the LEADER 2014-2020 funding programme is available by ringing our Letterkenny office on (074) 91 27056 or our Donegal Town office on (074) 97 23368.