The various types of concept note submission opportunities for NGOs are:
- ‘Calls for Concept Notes’ opportunities: Many donor agencies solicit concept notes on a periodic basis which can be semi-annual, annual, etc. Most of them publish the ‘Call for Concept Notes’ on their websites, other web-portals, their regular publications, and sometimes in the print media. These are open to NGOs based on the qualifying criteria. Some examples of such organizations are USAID, European Commission, which publish calls for proposals in their various thematic areas on a periodic basis.
- Solicited concept note opportunities: These may result from your preliminary interactions or discussions with a donor organization or a corporate foundation. Many times while attending development conferences, or other networking events, we meet people from donor agencies or corporates and form connections with them with the hope to take the introductory conversations to a fruitful impact for your NGO. You may find these opportunities to share your work, challenges, and also to ask about any upcoming or ongoing funding opportunities or even partnership opportunities. If they show interest and share their contact details, you must be prepared to send them a concept note with a brief idea of your program/s or scope for collaboration.
- Unsolicited concept note submissions: These have the least success rates but it is okay to give them a shot. Once you have done your research about the donor agencies, your concept note is ready to be submitted to multiple organizations, and you want to spread the word about your work to larger audiences. If the submission cycles of the donor agencies work for you, great. If no live opportunities are available at the moment, many organizations still accept applications and might keep you in their databases for future opportunities. You have to conduct in-depth research about the organization where you are applying to make sure you articulate the synergy between your work and theirs. Try to find someone who can introduce you to someone in the organization or try to establish personal contact and try to submit the proposal once you have established contact and have convinced someone in the target organization.