Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides grants in a number of ways. In some cases, it generally issues a Request for Proposals (RFP) or a competition call, where you apply along with other applicants and get selected for funding. In other cases, it invites some pre-selected organizations to submit proposals directly. But in fewer cases, it also accepts Letter of Inquiry from NGOs around the world but for limited programs only.
Like all donor agencies, Gates Foundation only provides funding in certain priority areas only. Currently, there are broad areas of focus for which the Foundation is offering grants: The Global Development Program, the Global Health Program and the United States Program. In these three programs, the first and last have grant opportunities made available through an RFP or request for proposals from pre-identified organizations by invitation only. It is only the Global Health Program for which the Foundation accepts an open Letter of Inquiry. For all other programs, you need to watch out for an RFP.
So if you are seeking a grant for a health project and believe that it is in line with the foundation’s priorities, then you can think of submitting a Letter of Inquiry here. Before submitting the letter, it is important to understand this Global Health Program since by itself it is such a broad area.
The foundation’s Global Health Program seeks to provide solutions for major health problems in developing countries by harnessing the power of science and technology. Usually, these health problems are those which generally do not receive enough funding and there is little research undertaken on using tools for providing sustainable tools to tackle them. These health problems have been identified and listed by the foundation:
- Diarrhea and Enteric Diseases
- Maternal, Newborn, & Child Health
- Neglected Diseases
- Pneumonia & Flu
- Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
The Gates Foundation does not have a detailed guideline on how to develop and present a Letter of Inquiry nor has it provided any format. But in general, it expects the NGO to submit basic information about the proposed project in a page or two. In this letter, you can include the purpose of the project, summary of the project goals and objectives and indication of your budget. Again, while developing this letter, don’t forget to keep in mind that the foundation is only interested in projects addressing specific problems as listed above.
Mentioning financial information in the letter can help the foundation make quick decisions. But do not end up quoting a high amount of money. Just be practical enough to list out the costs briefly and present the total in US dollars.
To know more about sending the open Letter of Inquiry to the Gates Foundation, visit this link.