Tuesday, 3 December 2013

United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) 2013: Learn How to Apply

Deadline: 31 December 2013

The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) 2013 Call for Project Proposals is now open for NGOs to apply. The Fund provides financial support to projects around the world for strengthening the voice of civil society, promoting human rights and encouraging the participation of all groups in the democratic processes. The main areas of funding are Community Development, Media, Rule of Law and Human Rights, Tools for Democratization, Women and Youth.

For NGOs to win funding, it is very important to submit a strong application especially because there is huge competition for seeking grants from UNDEF. As a worldwide opportunity, NGOs need to consider some important elements that matter in the application form. Keeping in view of the challenges faced by organizations in developing countries, we have developed a guide that can assist them in writing an effective proposal.

Disclaimer: This guide is intended to help NGOs apply to the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) grant program. This is an unofficial guide that does not guarantee funding or support to applicants. The guide is intended to provide NGOs with suggestions. Readers are advised to use the guide at their own discretion.

The following information is included in this guide:

    Before You Apply: Learning About the United Nations Democracy Fund:  About the Fund, Purpose of the Fund, Types of Projects Fundable, Funding Available, Where Does Funding Come From? Length of Projects, Application Dates, How to Apply, Where to Apply, Who Can Apply
    Steps to Completing the 2013 UNDEF Application Form: Applicant Information, Project Information, Project Description, Partners and Sponsors, Budget, Commitments,
    Submitting Your Application On-line.
    Best Practices for Creating a Successful Application

The very first step you need to take (even before you begin writing your proposal for funding) is to go the United Nations Democracy Fund website and read the information provided about this specific funding opportunity.

Reading information provided by the United Nations Democracy Fund will give you a complete understanding of the required proposal submission guidelines. It may also give you some ideas to help you develop and submit a successful proposal.

About the United Nations Democracy Fund

What is the UNDEF?  Started by the United Nations Secretary-General in 2005, the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDF) supports projects around the world that focus on the following:

    Strengthening the voice of civil society
    Promoting human rights
    Encouraging the participation of all group in democratic processes

Purpose:   The purpose of the United Nations Democracy Fund is to financially support projects that support and advance democracy. Projects must come under one or more of the following six main areas:

    Community development
    Rule of law and human rights
    Tools for democratization

What Types of Projects Are Fundable?  The UNDF funds projects related to democracy and civil society empowerment, such as: the empowerment of women, citizen’s access to information, voter registration, civic education, and much more.

Examples of previously funded projects include:

    Constitutional Reform: Support to Constituent Assembly in Zambia
    Promoting Human Rights through Providing Access to Information for Marginalized Women in Zimbabwe.
    Raising Civic Awareness Among Youth: Participation & Community Service in Yemen

Additional examples of previously funded projects can be found by searching the UNDF Projects Database.

Funding Available:  Projects range from $50,000 to $400,000. The average project is $200,000.

Where does the funding come from?  All funding for UNDEF projects is from voluntary contributions.

Length of Projects:  Projects are for two years or less.

Application Dates:  Proposals can be submitted between 15 November 2013 through 31 December 2013.

How to Apply:  Proposals are only accepted on-line during the application date period. Proposals can be submitted in either English or French.

Where to Apply:  Proposals must be submitted on-line during the application date window at the UNDEF website available at this link.

Who Can Apply? The following types of organizations are eligible to apply for funding:

    Civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that promote democracy. This category traditionally receives most of the funding.
    Independent and constitutional bodies such as election commissions, ombudsman institutions, national human rights institutions, and other independent governance bodies.
    Global and regional inter-government bodies, associations, and organizations other than the United Nations.
    If you are not sure if your organization is eligible to apply for UNDEF funding, go to the website at this link to find additional information.

The online application form for 2013 UNDEF Funding is available at: http://new.undefapplication.org

Steps to Completing the 2013 UNDEF Application Form:

    UNDEF provides an example application form at this link.
    You can use this form to complete your application off-line; then go online to the online application form and submit your application.
    You need to have a computer with an Internet connection to submit your application form on the UNDEF online application form.
    You must register your organization on the UNDEF website by creating a profile before you can apply for UNDEF funding.
    Once you have registered your organization, an email message will be sent by the online system (also known as the OPPS system) with a login username and password. Use this username and password to log into the UNDEF website to complete your application form.
    You do not need to complete the online application form all at one time. If you do not want to submit your application right away, choose the “SAVE” option located at the end of the online application form.
    Once you are confident that your application is complete, click on the “SUBMIT” button. NOTE: Once you hit the “SUBMIT” button you CANNOT go back and edit your application again. So, hit the “SUBMIT” button when you are absolutely sure that your application is complete.


Section 1. APPLICANT INFORMATION. This section asks for basic information about your organization such as: Name of the organization, organization acronym, type of applicant, first time or prior applicant, prior experience of your organization, operational budget of your organization, prior experience of your organization with the UN (United Nations), and affiliation (list grants your organization has received).

Section 1. HEAD OF ORGANIZATION. This section requests that you provide the name of the head of your organization, their professional title, telephone number, email address, and website address.

Section 1: KEY CONTACT. Provide the name of the key contact person of your organization. (This can be the same name as the head of your organization.); title of the key contact, phone number and email address of the key contact person.

PROJECT INFORMATION. This section asks you to provide: the title of your project. The title of your project should be short and self-explanatory. For example:

“Empowering People Through Citizen’s Journalism Tirana/Albania Europe”

“Strengthening Transitional Justice Processes in Burundi”

“Spaces and Information for Citizens’ Engagement in Columbia”

“Educating Rural Women in Democratic Citizenship in Haiti”

If you need more ideas for your title, search the UNDEF Project Database where all previously funded projects are listed. You can read through the list of projects for ideas to create your own unique title.

You will be also asked to provide: the location of your project, the country of your project, (for local projects: the location in the country where the project will take place), (for regional projects: select a value on the Application Form from the Geographic Scale), a summary of the project (no more than 255 characters), the amount of funds you are requesting for the project, your organization’s own contribution to the project (cash or in kind), the main feature of the project, and previous initiatives or innovations.

UNDEF shares the following best practices to help you create a successful application:

1.) Presentation:  High quality applications result in higher proposal scores. High quality applications: have all information completed, do not exceed character limits, provide accurate information, avoid jargon or acronyms, provide correct website addresses, uses plain English or French, and uses succinct sentences avoiding repetition of content.

2.) Clarity:  Your application should be clear and concise. Someone who is not familiar with your organization or your project should be able to read your application and understand completely what you are trying to accomplish. The application should be laid out logically meaning that the reader should be able to follow your goals, activities, budget, and outcomes step-by-step.

3.) Scoring and Criteria:  UNDEF assesses all proposals against the following 10 criteria. Make sure that your proposal meets the following criteria:

    Does your organization have a strong track record of excellence?
    Does the proposal make sense in terms of conception and presentation?
    How does the proposed project promote the objectives of the UNDEF?
    How does the proposed project make use of the United Nations’ and the UNDEF’s comparative advantage?
    How does the proposal make a significant impact?
    Does the proposal represent good value for the funding requested?
    Does the proposal demonstrate strong prospects for successful implementation?
    Does the proposal have strong prospects for continuing after UNDEF funding ends?
    Does the project encourage inclusiveness?
    Does the project enhance gender equality?

4.) Innovation: How innovative is your project? Innovation refers to something new at the same time being effective. For example, including men in a women’s rights project could be considered innovative.

5.) Democracy:  UNDEF funds projects that promote democracy. Your proposal must show how funding will advance some form or cause of democracy. The more direct the link is between the proposed project and how democratic processes will be strengthened, the stronger the proposal.

6.) Budget:  The budget must relate to the outputs provided in the narrative part of the proposal. Note that UNDEF rarely funds proposals for purchasing vehicles. UNDEF also looks for an element of volunteering in the proposal. UNDEF understands that the budget figures are estimates and expects budget amounts to be rounded figures (in the thousands or hundreds is acceptable).

7.) Value:  Remember that the maximum grant amount for any one proposal is $400,000. Only a few projects have been awarded this amount in over 400 applications implemented to date. The average grant amount is $200,000. A realistic budget should result in a better score under the ‘value for the money’ criterion.

8.) Timing:  The time available to submit your proposal is 6 weeks. It is strongly recommended that applicants give themselves plenty of time to develop, review, and then submit their proposal. Do not wait until the last few days prior to the deadline date of 31 December. Bad Internet connections, electricity blackouts, or other explanations for why a proposal was late are unacceptable, so start early!

Ready to apply for UNDEF now. Just visit this link.

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