The 14th Round of United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) Call for Project Proposals is now open for Civil Society/NGOs to apply. The United Nations Democracy 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 Gender equality, Community activism, Rule of law and human rights, Youth engagement, Strengthening civil society interaction with Government, Media and freedom of information, Tools for knowledge, Electoral processes.
UNDEF will not give priority to project proposals which focus on the following initiatives which do not promote democracy Initiatives filling a funding gap for on-going/regular programs and activities, Projects focused primarily on research, Projects that will be co-financed with other donors.
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.
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 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.
Before You Apply: Learning about the United Nations Democracy Fund 2019
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 eight main areas:
- Gender equality
- Community activism
- Rule of law and human rights
- Youth engagement
- Strengthening civil society interaction with Government
- Media and freedom of information
- Tools for knowledge
- Electoral processes
In this round of funding, UNDEF welcomes projects particularly on media and freedom of information. This covers a range of topics, such as promoting citizen journalism, including in conflict and post-conflict settings; training journalists in legal know-how as well as personal safety and security, both physical and online; building peer support networks for freelance journalists; developing investigative journalism skills; understanding and advancing legislation for access to information; combating hate speech; developing public media literacy, with a focus on learning to digest material critically and to evaluate sources — both online and in other media.
What Types of Projects Are Fundable? The UNDEF funds projects related to democracy and civil society empowerment, such as: the empowerment of women, citizen’s access to information, freedom of media, voter registration, civic education, and much more.
Examples of previously funded projects include:
- Strengthening Human Rights and Good Governance in the Gambia
- Supporting Political Dialogue Between Civil Society and Parliament in Jordan
- Support for Elections in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria
- Building Women’s Capacity for Democratic Dialogue and Accountability in Sierra Leone
Additional examples of previously funded projects can be found by searching the UNDEF Projects Database.
Funding Available: Projects range from $100,000 to $300,000. The majority of projects are granted no more than $250,000. Once the implementation period has elapsed, beneficiaries will be required to return unspent funding to UNDEF.
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. UNDEF grants will be allocated for projects with default duration of two years. However, it is acceptable to UNDEF if a successful applicant completes a project in less than two years.
Application Dates: Proposals can be submitted between 22nd November 2019 through 22nd December 2019.
How to Apply: Proposals are only accepted on-line during the application date period. Proposals can be submitted in either English or French. Project proposals will be accepted by the Online Project Proposal System (OPPS) only during the call for project proposals i.e. 22nd November 2019 – 22nd December 2019. UNDEF will not accept proposals submitted via email, regular post, facsimile, diplomatic or UN pouch, hand or courier delivery or any other channel. A confirmation email will be generated by the OPPS. The UNDEF Office will communicate directly with the applicant if additional information should be required.
Where to Apply: Proposals must be submitted on-line during the application date by the Online Project Proposal System (OPPS) only. 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.
Priority Countries and Regional Balance Strong preference will be given to applicants from countries and regions where the challenges of democracy are more critical, such as countries emerging from conflict, new and restored democracies, the Least Developed Countries (as per the official classification of the UNOHRLLS), Low Income Countries (“Low Income Economies” as per the World Bank’s official classification based on Gross National Income per capita) and Middle Income Countries (“Lower and Upper Middle-income Economies”, idem). UNDEF aspires to a satisfactory regional balance in the awarding of grants and will consider each individual proposal on its own merits.
What are the chances of my organization receiving funding from UNDEF?
The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) is an excellent opportunity for NGOs of all types and sizes (from local, to regional, to national) to apply for funding to support democracy-related projects and programs.
The UNDEF allocates 70% of its budget for projects in a country. This means that local NGOs can apply without competing against large international organizations.
The UNDEF also prefers to fund projects within countries and regions where challenges related to democracy are more critical. These countries and regions include those emerging from conflict, new and restored democracies, Least Developed Countries, Low-Income Countries, and Middle-Income Countries.
The online application form for 2019 UNDEF Funding is available at http://en.undefapplication.org/
Steps to Completing the 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.
Section1. APPLICANT INFORMATION
Organization 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).
Organization Contact Information: This section requests that you provide the name of the head of your organization, their professional title, telephone number, email address, and website address.
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.); the title of the key contact, phone number and email address of the key contact person.
Organization Experience and Affiliations: This section requests that you provide vision, prior experience of your organization, what is your organizations goal and strategic priorities and where do you see your organization in next three to five years. Also indicate the prior experience of your organization with the UN (United Nations), the operational budget of your organization, grants and affiliation (list grants your organization has received).
Section 2. PROJECT PROPOSAL INFORMATION.
Project Title: This section asks you to provide: the title of your project. The title of your project should be short and self-explanatory. For example:
“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.
Requested grant amount: Provide here the amount required for the project. Mention the requested amount in US $ amount as total requested a grant.
Project summary: In the section, you need to write a brief and concise summary of the proposed project describe the problem to be addressed by the project. Include such information as the overall democratic context and underlying causes of the problem. Justify why this project is necessary. (Maximum number of characters is 1,000.)
Giving a background of the situation, you can provide justification in this section as to why you need financial support for your project intervention. You may need to analyze your problem to the root and provide a final solution offered by your project. For example, in conflict regions, if you want to involve youth to network through social media for promoting democratic ideas, you can explain how you would want to empower and educate the youth that would ultimately lead to spreading democracy through social media. Similarly, if your NGO is promoting voter education, you need to explain how your target group has been politically isolated resulting in the lack of democratic participation and your project would empower them by providing education on democratic principles and increase their participation in voting processes.
Project Location: 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).
Project Description, Objectives and Outcomes in UNDEF Application
Section3. PROJECT PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION
In this section include the information related to the overall democratic context and underlying causes of the problem and challenges pertaining to the topic addressed by this project. Indicate the problem addressed by the project and describe the underlying causes of this problem and give a justification for the necessity of the project.
PROJECT OBJECTIVE: In this section, explain the objective to be achieved through implementing the project’s activities. (Maximum number of characters is 255.)
Define a specific goal or objective you want to achieve by implementing your project. In most cases, your project title indicates your goal and so you can refer back and forth for this. If you are promoting human rights, then the goal would be to increase human rights awareness in your target group.
RESULTS/OUTCOMES: In this section, describe the intended results of the project and/or the outcomes you expect. (Maximum number of results or outcomes is 3). What are the positive changes expected to occur within the timeframe of the project? (Maximum number of characters is 500.)
Mention the top 3 results you would like to achieve from your project. For example, in a project about spreading the ideas on democratic freedom, the target group exercising its democratic rights like voting or contesting elections; the target group critically analyzing policies and programs; and the target group organizing lobbying activities to influence government decisions.
OUTPUTS: In this section, describe the outputs to be produced by the activities. Make sure that the outputs are measurable products or events. (Maximum number of characters is 1,000.)
Under Outputs, you can mention short-term results that can be achieved from your project like improved understanding of democratic principles and concepts. For example, if a project activity is to ‘educate women on human rights issues’, the output could be: ‘25 women gained an increased understanding about human rights issues.’
KEY ACTIVITIES: In this section, describe the key activities that will take place for each output mentioned above. (Maximum number of characters is 1,000.)
List out the activities you would like to perform in your project. For example, conducting training workshops on providing education on democratic principles and concepts to your target group.
Section4: MONITORING and EVALUATION: In this section, describe how the project results/outcomes will be measured. Include: what measurements will be used (e.g., outcomes indicators, baseline, targets, monitoring tools, etc.). Indicate who will be responsible for measuring each result/outcome. (Maximum number of characters is 500.)
Under this section, include processes that your organization will use to review and monitor the progress of the project such as: board meeting, project review meetings, reports, and field visits. Evaluation can include a mid-term and an end-of-project evaluation.
UNDEF will keep aside 10% of the total project cost for monitoring and evaluation purposes. Monitoring and Evaluation costs are capped at $25,000.
SUSTAINABILITY: Describe how the achievements of the project will be maintained after the UNDEF funding period ends. (Maximum number of characters is 300.)
“Sustainability” refers to what mechanisms the organization will put in place to continue the project once the UNDEF funding ends. Mechanisms may include network-led or community-based organizations-led activities that are supported by other donors or internal funds.
WHY UNDEF? In this section, describe why UNDEF funding is particularly strategic for the proposed project. (Maximum number of characters is 300.)
In this section, you need to explain why the fund from UNDEF would be relevant for your project. Here you can explain some of the advantages of UNDEF like it is available worldwide and anybody can apply and it covers broad democratic concepts and your project clearly connects with its ideals.
PARTNERS and SPONSORS: In this section, indicate who the implementing partner or partners are of this project. Provide the complete name(s) of the implementing partner(s) organizations. (Maximum number of characters is 255.) Also provide proposed implementing partner(s) if they are different from the applicant.
If you are engaging in partnership with other organizations or groups, this can be mentioned here. Remember that partnership with community-based organizations could add up to the success of your project.
Section5: BUDGET: Provide your project budget.
Detail how the requested grant amount will be used for items listed in Section 2: Project Information. NOTE: You will need to provide the budget in two different ways: 1.) By activity and 2.) By item activity. Round the dollar amounts to the nearest thousand dollars. Each budget must add up to the same figure. Section 5: BUDGET provides you with more detailed information. Dollar amounts must be in US dollars.
The budget component of your application is easy to follow. UNDEF funds salaries and support costs, however these costs must be very modest and you must justify the costs in your project.
You are allowed to request a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $300,000 for a period of two years.
Section 6: COMMITMENTS: This section provides a list of statements that must be answered by the applicant.
Submitting Your Application On-Line
After you have drafted your proposal offline on paper or on a computer, visit the UNDEF online application website by visiting this link and begin completing the on-line application form. The UNDEF application system, also known as OPPS, opens on 22nd November 2019 and closes on 22nd December 2019.
Once you have submitted your application you will only be able to view it online until 22nd December 2019. It is strongly recommended that you keep a copy of your application as UNDEF is unable to send submitted applications back to applicants.
Best Practices for Creating a Successful UNDEF Application
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 $300,000. Only a few projects have been awarded this amount in over 400 applications implemented to date. The average grant amount is $250,000. 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 1 Month. 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 22nd 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.
(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.)