Using the feedback received in 2017 to inform plans for 2018
Written by Marinke van Riet, Global Programme Manager
Voice believes that good communication starts with listening. We heard you!
In 2017 Voice contracted 71 grantees and allocated Euro 9,9 million from the Euro 35 million grant fund. It means we made at least 71 organisations happy (as some joined as a consortia of more organisations) but the other side of the coin is that we had to turn a lot of exciting projects down! While this is the nature of a competitive grant facility, we felt that the constructive feedback we received on some of Voice's criteria was valid. Voice takes learning seriously, and hence we have taken your feedback on board and starting January 2018 have changed some of the criteria and processes. We have listed them below but also refer you to the specific Calls for Proposals and FAQs. Plus we are introducing some new exciting features with a small sneak preview below. Watch this space!
Income restrictions ("the 40% rule")
To avoid dependency on Voice and to have an indication of your absorption capacity, Voice developed a budgetary requirement whereby the applicant cannot apply for more than 40% of their total annual income. Based on your feedback we have now changed this to 50% for national Influencing and Sudden Opportunity grants (40% for multi-country projects) to allow for an easier calculation and to increase the amount you are able to request. The way to calculate this is to divide the requested amount by the annual income of the previous year (full details will be available in the Call itself). When applying as a consortium of organisations you can combine income of all applicants to request a higher amount in line with the project idea.
For Innovate and Learn grants we have removed the income restriction entirely to incentivise young, small start-ups and social enterprises to apply. We will obviously still need to assess your absorption capacity but also encourage you in the first place to apply for a modest amount, in line with your experience and project requirements. In other words, for a first time start-up we will never award a grant of Euro 200,000!
Empowerment grants remain largely the same and is the type of grant that has minimal criteria and maximal flexibility. We allow for audio and video applications and reporting also in local languages. But based on your feedback, Voice is introducing regional level empowerment grants to complement national ones for learning and transformative change between countries. This could take the form of an exchange empowerment programme between Mali and Niger, for example, or Laos and Cambodia (it will have to be neighboring countries). The maximum grant amount is Euro 75,000 for a duration between 12 and 24 months. We are currently exploring the topics and criteria of the first one, so good suggestions are welcome via email@example.com!
We also realised that the process for the Sudden Opportunity grant was too elaborate and not easily understood. Sudden Opportunity grants are meant for unanticipated events such as the introduction of a new law to limit or expand civic space. These are opportunities for existing networks or loosely formed coalitions to unite, take action and make their voices heard. Applicants will now need to write an Email to the specific address mentioned in the Call for Proposals pitching in one or two paragraphs the what, why, how, when and where. Upon review by Voice the idea will either be rejected or the applicant invited to submit a proposal.
Plus, introducing an award!
To amplify great initiatives, illustrating in practice the principle of Nothing About Us Without Us, Voice is teaming up with Partos As part of the annual Partos Innovation Festival we are introducing an Innovation Award for Inclusion showcasing and amplifying innovations around inclusion of the Voice target groups as well as to ensure that more Southern Voices are represented at the Festival itself.
As you can see your feedback is important to us to help us to reflect and to learn. It may take a little bit of time, but listen we do! So keep the feedback and ideas coming our way as we move full steam ahead in unleashing new voices........