11 Things to Consider Before Applying for Government Funding

  1. Government Grants are rarely available to individuals. To be eligible you will most likely need to be a registered non profit organisation in your area. Each grant making body will have its own set off rules that you should read as a priority and before making any other arrangements to apply for funding.
  2. Research funding opportunities in full. Many government grants will be backed up by significant documentation detailing the regulations of who and want they are able to support. It is vital that consume as much of this information as you can before you apply to ensure that you are eligible. Grants from Governments and related state agencies often demand a big investment in the application process so it is crucial that you don’t waste your time.
  3. Record as many details as you can about the opportunity you plan to apply for. You need everything from the name of the program, the program number, application guidelines, eligibility regulations, all deadlines, all contacts and any other details of importance related to the program. Not only will you have all of the information in one place but this process will help you to better understand the organisation’s funding restrictions.
  4. In the midst of all of the documentation it is easy to lose track of what the grant funding is actually there to do. In many cases the objectives of the program may actually change from year to year as well. Wherever possible you should try to contact the grant representative to discuss the funding opportunity with them. Not only is this a great opportunity to develop your relationship with a funder, it also provides an opportunity to gather insight from the staff about what projects they are looking for. You should also try to use this opportunity to briefly discuss your project proposal as they may be able to help you by making recommendations, suggesting changes or even advising you that there is a more appropriate fund available.
  5. Be studious and careful in adhering to all guidelines, however unimportant it may seem. Funding organisations often demand that proposals are written in a certain style and deviations from the official guidelines are likely to damage your funding application. Most grants are heavily oversubscribed so it is doubly important not to give any reason whatsoever for the funding organisation to dislike or even just throw out your application based on an easily fixed technicality.
  6. Be prepared to submit your application at least one full day ahead of the deadline. Often government grants will include multiple documents, signatories of different people in your organisation, articles of incorporation and additional technical documents, by leaving it to the last minute you will have no time to rectify any mistakes or omissions you have made. Even the best grant writers in the world sometimes miss out crucial pieces of information so you need to give yourself time to discover and problems and resolve them.
  7. Show evidence of the need for your project, ideally by using recognised or government statistics. Grant funders need to understand why your project is important, why your cause needs to be urgently addressed and what impact financial support for your organisation could make on the community. Don’t assume that they already understand the problem you are trying to resolve and try to be as clear as possible.
  8. Grant funders and particularly government grant funders wish to see existing community support for your organisation and the services it supplies. They want to fund organisations that are already relevant in their communities, have a track record of success and have a ready way of connecting with groups in need. You can supplement your application by including quotes, case studies and testimonials of either people who have already received your services or people who can explain why they desperately need the new service you are proposing. This will help to provide a human element that a program officer can relate to.
  9. Invite a friend to read over your proposal before you send it. A new pair of eyes from outside your organisation will be able to add new perspective and invite you to consider your proposal from different points of view. They may be able to highlight a section that is unclear or not needed as well as basic grammar and spelling.
  10. All funders, both government and private, often seek solutions that are both innovative and replicable. Funding organisations want to see a new way to tackle an existing problem whether it is using new technology, utilising local knowledge or by adapting a new monitoring and evaluation technique. They also want to use your project as a testing ground to see what works and what doesn’t in the hope that your scheme can be replicated in similar areas across the country and around the world.
  11. Maintain an excellent record of all activity undertaken throughout the grant process. Governments and their agencies are known to be far more strict on reporting than private foundations and many demand the right to evaluate your project on site with little notice. Ensure you are prepared by keeping and maintain high quality records of all activity, expenditure and impact.

Do you have experience with government funding? How did you manage the complex application process? Let us know in the comments section.

5 Tips for Great Proposals – A Free “How-To” Video

Fundsforngos.org has produced a free 10 minute how-to video on proposal writing. The video provides 5 excellent tips on how to develop a better proposal. If you want to write great proposals be sure to watch this useful video.

Fundsforngos.org also offers a range of other resources to improve NGO fundraising capacity – including tools on how to improve your proposals and increase your chances for fundraising success. Please click here to visit the fundsforngos.org resource page.

What is a Case Study? Helping NGOs Understand How to Write a Case Study

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A case study can be described as “a study of a unique incident relating to an individual or a group or a community or any other entity.” The incident can either express a problem that needs to be addressed or it could be a story of success that has to be shared and publicized. In most cases, the case study is unique relating to a single individual, group or any other entity but it can carry the power of representing facts of a whole area.

For example, if you come across a case of a woman who has suffered severe injuries due to domestic violence and nobody has protested about it in your project area, you would quickly understand that this case could be representing a condition commonly prevalent in the area. You would then think of writing down this case to reflect the conditions of entire women community in the area.

Similarly, if your NGO is implementing a project on livelihood development and after a period of time, you notice that one of the poor farmers has now started sending his children to school, you would make a connection: the project has helped him in increasing his household income which has enabled him to afford schooling for his children. This success story would further give you this idea of expanding the project so that more farmers are able to send their children to schools. With this case study, you would also like to share it with other organizations for replicating the project.

A case study is an analysis of problem or a success story being faced by an individual or a group of persons or a community, events, projects, government policies, institutions etc. The problem or the success can be small that is area specific or can prevail in the entire country or continent.

How to write a Human Rights Project Proposal

Many NGOs working on human rights have often found proposal writing a challenging task. Although conceptualizing a project can be fairly easy by examining the ground situation in the target community, but writing down the same on paper can be difficult. Funding agencies also demand complicated information in their proposal formats which further discourage NGOs.

In this context, we are providing some basic guidance to help NGOs understand the various aspects of a human rights project proposal and how it can be developed and presented to various donor agencies. Proposal formats can vary from one donor agency to another and besides, in many cases, donor agencies do not even ask for a full project proposal; they would prefer to receive a brief outline of the project initially. Nevertheless, a project proposal is a very important part of the fundraising process and it should remain a part of your work schedule whether there is a donor agency waiting to go through it or not. The basic information provided below will help you develop a ready framework that can be improvised whenever there is call for proposals on human rights.

You can click on the links one by one to learn more:

Other How to Guides:

  • How to write a proposal for a Community Livelihoods Development Project…[more]
  • How to write Proposals on Projects addressing Climate Change…[more]
  • A basic guide for NGOs on how to write Logical Framework Analysis in grant proposals…[more]

How to write a proposal for a Community Livelihoods Development Project

Strengthening livelihoods, especially ensuring food security and increasing income opportunities for local communities, is one of the core responsibilities of NGOs working in poor and developing countries. As many efforts are made in this direction, small organizations continue to face challenges in developing a plan or a project proposal to raise funds to support their interventions. Here, we are providing some basic guidelines to assist NGOs to write effective proposals for building livelihoods in their project areas.

Livelihood interventions can be a very broad area. Besides, most projects implemented are tailor-made to the existing situation. Hence, it is important to consider the information provided here as a basic framework for customizing specific proposals. Remember that different donors have different proposal formats as well and many of them prefer to seek brief concept notes outlining the ideas of the intervention. They rarely ask for a full-fledged proposal at the outset. Nevertheless, the information given here aids the reader in equipping oneself with proper understanding about writing a proposal for a community livelihood development project.

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How to write Proposals on Projects addressing Climate Change

As issues related to climate change and global warming start to occupying large spaces on our tables, it is high time that we also made preparations to address them in a holistic manner. Many NGOs are not yet ready to equip themselves with information on climate change either because they still believe it is too scientific or because it can easily divert their current work strategies. While it is important to remain focused on issues of interest, it is also necessary to keep our eyes and ears open to the world.

Projects on climate change are the next big thing for NGOs (like it is used to for HIV and AIDS some years ago) as donors continue to look at NGOs as strongest mediums to reach out communities in poor and developing countries (of course, in a pyramid-like top-down fashion). Nevertheless, climate change is a critical issue (as we have all been feeling about it in our homes) and all organizations should start considering it as an issue of highest relevant and work in its direction either in a full-fledged manner or as a cross-cutting theme in their other projects.

Besides, in the recent times, we have all observed high number of call for proposals advertised by NGOs concentrating mostly on addressing climate change and global warming and we cannot ignore the fact that it is the poor (with whom we work) who bear the greatest brunt of these problems

Considering the challenges that NGOs may face in developing proposals to address these issues, we are presenting some useful information on how to write them effectively.

 

How to write a Proposal for One Woman Initiative

The “One Woman Initiative” is an international fund for NGOs focused upon empowering women in Muslim-majority countries by providing them training, technology, information and facilitating microlending and advocacy of their basic rights. The “One Woman Initiative” has been supported by the USAID and US State Department and it is managed by CAFAmerica. This Fund is open to NGOs to apply and receive support on the issues mentioned above, possibly in targeted countries only.

The One Woman Initiative has a grantmaking process for NGOs. Prior to submitting full proposals, NGOs have to first understand the concept of this initiative and ensure that it meets the set objectives of their organizations. The website of the One Woman Initiative provides complete information about its program priorities.

Under its grant selection process, it has a step-by-step guide for applying for the grant. Initially, only concepts have to be proposed to this Fund. The basic eligibility criteria outlined for applications include “Proven organizational capacity, Local impact on significant number of beneficiaries Focus on justice, opportunity, and leadership themes, Results that can be connected to the efforts and spirit of “one woman,” Estimated budget of project and Project sustainability.”

If NGOs believe that they are eligible for applying for the grant, then they need to first send the project concept in a simple email. The project concept should be brief enough to explain the rationale/justification for the project, the goals, objectives and indicators set for the project, the project activities, sustainability and an idea of the expected budget. If this brief concept note is in line with the program priorities and other guidelines, the Fund would seek a full proposal from the NGO.

A full proposal would require the applicant organization to give full details about the problem analysis, project management, the monitoring and evaluation plan and a thorough budget. In addition to this supporting documents have to be submitted such as proof of the nonprofit status, organizational board members, organizational objective, programs and activities and other details.

The compeleted applications have to be sent to CAFAmerica. They can be submitted online and by mail as well. There is no deadline, so grant applications are accepted round the year. However, it will take nearly 4-6 weeks for the Fund to review the proposal and make the decision. More information is at this link.

Budget and Proposal Packaging

PreviousBudget

The budget has to be itemized as clearly as possible, presented in the required format. It should be in line with the activities set in the project. It will be an additional advantage to mention contribution from other sources such as the community or other donors. Contribution made by the proposing organization should also be mentioned. It there is any recurring income from the project activities, it needs to be clearly given in the budget section.

Proposal Packaging

When the proposal writing is complete, it is important to ensure that the packaging has been done properly before submitting it to the donor. Below are some important points to be kept in mind while packaging the proposal.

  • the Title Page should have Project title, name of the donor agency and name, logo & contact info of the NGO.
  • there should be a Table of Contents
  • there should be one page for explaining acronyms
  • there should be a Project Summary- not more than one page, narrating goal, objectives, results and activities.
  • An Organizational overview
  • Ensure that page numbering, header & footer are complete.
  • While writing, use active sentences more.
  • Keep in mind the limit for the total no. of pages for the proposal.
  • Attach appendices, if necessary
  • Give Bibliography and references.
  • The proposal should be signed and sealed.
  • Covering letter is essential

Monitoring & Evaluation

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Although it is the responsibility of the donor to carry out monitoring and evaluation of the project, it usually seeks the plan from the implementing NGO about it.

Monitoring and evaluation enables constant check on the activities and helps review the progress made at every step. Monitoring should be the integral part of project implementation; in fact, there should be an internal mechanism to monitor the results, risks, assumptions and performance regularly through meetings and submission reports. T

he Management Information Systems (MIS) is often used as a mechanism to undertake monitoring. The baseline information is critical to the monitoring process.

Involving external entities such as donors, government people, consultants etc in monitoring would give a good opportunity to collect feedback, provide exposure to the work and also explore new options. Evaluation is carried out by an external agency during the mid-term or in the end part of the project.

Results

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Results are changes that we expect to take place after implementing the project activities. The results are generally positive experiences undergone by the beneficiaries.

Results are divided into three types:

1. Outputs

2. Outcomes

3. Impact

Outputs are immediate results that we achieve soon after the completion the project or any specific project activity. For example, if a training on human rights is carried out in a project, the output or the immediate result of it is “a greater understanding of human rights amongst the participants.”

The outcomes are results that have been or that are to be achieved after a period of time, but not immediate. In the above example, it could that “the participants have gone further to communities to inform them about human rights or carrying out policy advocacy in favor of human rights.”

The impact is the longer-term result that has happened because of the activities undertaken in the project. The impact in the example given above could be “policies are framed by the Government to protect the human rights of the people.”