Donors that have funding to give to NGOs need to spend time and effort to attract highly effective NGOs. FundsforNGOs provides donors a free and easy way to communicate a funding opportunity to millions of NGOs around the world. What are some of the best ways to ensure that you receive excellent applications while minimizing the burden on NGOs applying for funding? The following guide offers some suggestions.
Publish your funding opportunity on fundsforNGOs.org
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If you are a donor agency providing grants, awards, trainings, or scholarships for NGOs you can use the on-line form located here to submit an opportunity. Our editorial team will review and publish it on our website and online newsletter.
The basic guidelines for submission are as follows:
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- Please ensure the opportunity is relevant and useful to NGOs around the world.
- We do not publish opportunities that require payment or charge a fee.
- We are happy to help improve the description of the opportunity to ensure more high-quality eligible applicants apply, or to make edits after publication (e.g. increasing the deadline date). Please contact us here for any questions.
Review your current practices
Before embarking on the next funding round review your current practices and make improvements. Does your application form or online portal need updating? Are you clearly communicating the opportunity and requirements with NGOs? What capacity do you have for the volume of application expected? Did feedback from earlier rounds provide ideas for improvements? Following up on these questions and others will set you on a path to even better results the next time around.
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Use the best possible application process
Many donors have started to use technology to generate increased efficiencies in the application process. An online application form can weed out ineligible applicant and reduce workload. A two-step application process, in which NGOs first submit a short summary, will also save time and effort as well as reduce the burden on NGOs applying. A typical rule of thumb is to select about twice the number of proposals for a full review as the number of grants available. In effect, if 100 NGOs apply in the first round for ten available grants, select up to 20 for the final round. This ensures that only a small number of high quality NGOs need to prepare a full proposal, increasing the chance of success for those 20 and reducing the burden on the other 80 NGOs.
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Set strict guidelines
Be sure to develop clear and strict guidelines that can help NGOs decide whether they should apply. Having strict guidelines also reduces the number of non-eligible applicants. Typical guidelines include an NGO minimum/maximum budget; years in existence; number of staff; type of organization; location/country, and program theme. If criteria for inclusion are extremely broad the number of applicants will balloon. In turn, many more NGOs will have to spend time and effort with only a small chance of success. If only very few grants are available you should aim to curtail the number of applicants that can apply.
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If you offer funding periodically, try to standardize the process. NGOs will become familiar with the forms and requirements which will lead to quality improvements. NGOs that have applied before can repurpose some of the materials and spend time more efficiently.
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Develop clear guidelines and an informative Q&A that is easy to understand. Some NGOs may have limited English language skills or understanding of grant application concepts. Keeping it simple will reduce the number of ineligible applicants. Offering a contact email or online form for questions is only good if you have the capacity to reply or collate the typical questions in a Q&A document. Make sure that online and print information is updated frequently.
Many NGOs around the world do excellent high quality work but have limitations when it comes to developing the perfect funding proposal. Do not dismiss NGOs outright based on faulty grammar, spelling, or style. Instead look for the quality of the NGO, the program, and the fit with your goals.
Limit the burden
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Forty page proposals with log-frames, detailed budgets, and annexes can easily take one NGO full-time staff a month or more to prepare. Imagine 100 NGO staff spending a month preparing for an application when only a few grants are available, instead of engaging in program work. To reduce complexity is to increase the time NGOs can devote to their work. A two step simplified application process can help. While donors cannot take away all the burden NGOs will have to shoulder, give it sufficient thought. Ultimately, the investment made by an NGO is paid for by another donor. Project reporting for successful NGOs should also be in line with the size of the grant. An NGO receiving a $10,000 grant should not be required to spend months gathering report data. Lastly, never require a participation or registration fee.
Feedback and review
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Ask applicants for feedback and suggestions on improvements once the application process is over. An internal audit or review will also help improve the process. What did you do and what can be done better next time?
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There are some great resources available on-line for donors who want to learn more.