Advice on applying to the Small Charities Challenge Fund

Advice on applying to the Small Charities Challenge Fund

The Alliance recently held a webinar about making a successful application to the Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF). The webinar presenters were Laura Spilsbury, Grants Manager at Mannion Daniels (the UK Aid Direct fund manager) and Jennifer Ruddick, Deputy Policy & Programmes Manager from the Department for International Development (DFID).  

The webinar covered the timeline and the process of the application, DFID’s priority objectives, and gave examples from both successful and unsuccessful applications. General advice on applying to the fund included: using a worked example to give confidence to reviewers that you have delivered a project of a similar nature; ensuring that the results framework, budget and workplan are detailed and all operate together; and involving implementing partners in the proposal design and writing process. 

One of the highest scoring applications to the fund did the following: 

  • Gave a very clear and concise project summary, highlighting what the project wanted to achieve, by when and outlining who the target audience for the project was, 
  • One of the key aims of the project was to build evidence and best practice and to share the lessons learned from the project across the sector, 
  • Described how the organisation had consulted with stakeholders during the project design process, which included a nine-month participatory approach with the implementing partners and focus group discussions to assess the strengths and weakness of the pilot project, 
  • It also clearly described the outcome of these participatory design groups, and how they informed the project design, 
  • It outlined the learning drawn on during the design of the project approach,  
  • It set the scene very well, clearly describing the specific problem they were trying to address to the reviewer, 
  • A key part of the project was collaboration with the project partners and learning from the partners, 
  • The project planned to communicate findings within the partner country and across the sector, as well as to inform future scale up of the project, 
  • It planned to use a digital tool to assist with monitoring and evaluation, and clearly demonstrated where this tool fitted within the wider monitoring and evaluation strategy, 
  • Included a specific description of how this digital tool would work in practice, covering who would carry out the monitoring and evaluation and how often the tool would be used,  
  • The monitoring and evaluation was linked to supporting value for money and capacity building, 
  • Explained precisely how the team planned to analysis the learnings from the project and what to do with these learnings, 
  • The change the project expected to achieve was broken down to the specific outcomes, how the change would be delivered through six outputs, and measured via SMART and gender/disability disaggregated key performance indicators, and linked to how this would lead to long term change for the beneficiaries, 
  • It described what data would be collected at what stages of the project, 
  • It made no assumptions about what the reviewer knew about the project, the specific sector or the country locality. 

An unsuccessful application made the following mistakes: 

  • The project didn’t address the stated problem, 
  • It didn’t describe the local context but described the need across a general country,  
  • Didn’t outline the conditions around the implied support for the project from the government, the claim was only supported by very generalised statements, 
  • Gave little thought to monitoring and evaluation, which was reflected in the budget.  

You can view a recording of the webinar on the past events page section of our website, and you can find more detailed application guidance on the UK Aid Direct website.  

The deadline for the final round of the Small Charities Challenge Fund is 28 March 2019. Good luck with applications!