Indigo Grant-making explained

Applicants are often curious to know how the Indigo grant-making process works. One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘how do I submit a proposal?’ and is often followed by ‘how long will the process take?’ We try to keep the process as straightforward as possible to reduce both the burden on the applicant and ourselves. And while each individual case will be a little different and some applicants will get a decision quicker than others, the process works as follows:

1. Initial contact – Once you know about us, you are free to submit a proposal, concept note or just ask for some more information from us. You can get in touch via the Indigo contact form to tell us briefly about your organisation and what you want from us or you can submit a proposal or concept note via email directly – please don’t do both, though. Before you contact us, make sure you take a look at the blog to see our funding guidelines and what sorts of things we do and don’t fund. If you’re not clear, just ask.

2. The waiting game – Once you’ve submitted a concept note or proposal, we’ll contact you to let you know that we’ve received it and will process it in due course. We’ll try to provide you with an estimate of how long you might have to wait before hearing back from us. This will vary, as it will be determined by how many other proposals are ahead of you in the queue and when our next meeting will be with the trustees. You may hear back from us in two weeks, but sometimes it might take six weeks – it really depends.

3. First reading – We’ll read your proposal and if we decide it’s not eligible (e.g. it’s in a sector we don’t fund), we’ll write back to you to tell you why. If the project is eligible, though, we’ll prepare it for the Indigo trustees. Using the information you have provided in the concept note or proposal, we will write up your proposal in an abbreviated form for the Indigo trustees to consider. We’ll give them all the information they need at this stage to make a first decision, including the project description, rationale, budget and a recommendation of whether or not to take it forward to the next round.

4. Questions and answers – If the trustees decide that your application isn’t suitable for us, we’ll email you to let you know and the main reasons why. Because of the volume of proposals we receive, however, we can’t provide detailed and comprehensive explanations of why we didn’t fund something. If the trustees decide they are keen on your work, however, we’ll very often ask you a first round of questions. These questions might concern things like the project design, your previous work, other funders etc. We may ask for details of referees if appropriate. Questions can be done over email or Skype. You should expect to see our questions within around a week of the meeting with the trustees.

5. Second reading – Not that we want to make it sound like a parliamentary process, but once we receive your answers we’ll present them to the trustees at the next available meeting. After that, the trustees may decide that it’s not the right project for us or that they are keen on it and want to support it. We may either agree to award it or ask for some more information. If we need more information, this will obviously slow the process down a little.

6. Award – If you get to the stage of being awarded a grant, things generally move pretty quickly. We’ll email you to let you know of the meeting outcome and will then provide an official award letter and details on our monitoring and evaluation process and some information on the logistics of paying the grant.

7. Payment – Once you have accepted the terms and conditions of the grant, you are free to request payment of the award. This will be done by bank transfer and can generally be arranged within a week or two of your payment request.

So, how long this will all take can vary hugely. Part of it is down to us and concerns when we’ll next see the trustees and how quickly we can get things prepared for them. Part of it is down to others – the more proposals ahead of you in the queue, the longer the process can take. And some of it is up to you – the quicker you respond to our questions, the sooner we can take your proposal back to the trustees. On a good day, you might submit a proposal to us on the 1st of the month, have it taken to the trustees on the 10th and hear back from us by the 14th. But if we have to ask you one or more rounds of questions, then the process can easily take six weeks or more. As with so many things in life, it depends.