Why we are Suspending Unsolicited Applications

From 30 April 2018, we will be suspending the receipt of unsolicited proposals for an initial test period of six months. We will be replacing them with an in-depth focus on one country, desk-based research and visits to meet potential grantees. It is hoped that this new approach will allow us to find high-quality organisations, while avoiding the inefficiencies inherent in a system where the chances of successfully receiving funding are slim.

Putting together a decent proposal for charitable funding takes time. You need to think about how the work fits in to your existing commitments, get input from colleagues (and perhaps users or beneficiaries), research likely funding streams, draft a credible budget that fully covers your costs and devise a sensible method of monitoring and evaluating the project. A good proposal is an investment of time, energy and money. To go to the trouble of putting together an application like that only to be told that it’s not the right fit is at best annoying and at worst a misuse of valuable resources that could have been put to much better use.

In the last three years we have received 818 proposals, of which 104 have been approved. What that means is that 7 out of every 8 proposals we receive are unsuccessful. Assuming it takes a day to put together a proposal and a five-day working week with no holidays, that’s the equivalent of 2 years 9 months of effort for proposals that didn’t receive funding. We don’t think that such a system is a good use of anybody’s time. What’s more, many of the 104 proposals we did approve were submitted by organisations we had invited. Only a small proportion of that 104 went to new organisations that had submitted completely out of the blue. In the last financial year, in fact, not a single unsolicited proposal was successful with all grants coming via referrals, meetings, desk research or they were simply previous grantees. As such, we think that there are better alternatives to this system and we want to give them a try.

Over the course of the next six months, we will replace the unsolicited proposals route with a combination of an in-depth focus on one country, desk-based research and visits to meet potential grantees. As well as this, we will continue to offer support to some organisations we have previously or currently work with. We hope that this new system will result in less wasted time and effort for both us and our applicants and will be reviewing it after six months to see if it’s working. Our hope is that with the time we save, we will be able to seek out new, interesting organisations and projects that we may otherwise never have heard of and who might not have found us either.

We will accept and consider any proposals submitted to us by 30 April 2018, but after that period we will not be considering any more unsolicited proposals, so please do not send them to us.