This question particularly pokes my attention whenever I hear it. Getting back to the question; more and more organisations are struggling for finding funding to run their projects and operational costs. This means that the competition for winning grants is becoming more challenging. There is no one answer to this question because every funding platform is different and so is their selection criteria.
Some donor agencies are more known to organisations and grant seekers, which means the volume of proposals they receive can be more than what they can fund in that funding cycle. If all the budget is allocated already, even the most promising project will have to be turned down and the applicant will have to reapply in next round or look elsewhere for funds. It is also possible that people assigned to select the projects for funding are only forwarded the applications that fulfill certain basic criteria. In this case the rest of the ideas are not going to make it to the second, third or final round. A lot of the teams, the selection team is 1-3 people who have to look at hundreds of proposals on a deadline and tight schedule. I remember once, our team of Listeners (editors) had to assess over 250 posts in one week to select about 30 promising storytellers! But the final selection was in the hands of the program staff who based their decision on our assessment scores.
The selection of a project for funding can depend on many factors. Few are as follows (but are not limited to these):
1- How closely you fall under the eligibility criteria (including their vision and mission)
2- Need or Urgency demonstrated in the rationale of your proposed project
3- Originality of your idea/proposed solution
4- Impact – How many people will benefit from this project?
5- Scalability – How scalable is your project?
6- Sustainability-How will you run the project after the funding is not available anymore?
7- Availability of funds
8- Geographic diversity of your project
As I stated earlier, depending the funding goals of the funding source, these can vary. For example, some organisations might find a balanced geographical representation more important than the sustainability or scalability factor. Other agency might find ‘innovation’ to be the top selling point. If you are pitching a business, the business model is taken into account most importantly. How profitable would it be? Sometimes selection of projects for funding depends on an independent selection committee.
I really enjoyed answering this question and I hope others will also chime in with their opinions. I would also love to hear from others who have been part of such selection committees or teams.
This article is part of “On Fundraising Challenges” series, originally written for Mentoring Women in Business Platform of Cherie Blair Foundation in response to questions posted by community leaders and founders of various start-up initiatives.