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When should I submit a concept note to a funder?

Many funders and foundations prefer taking the first look at a concept note before asking the NGOs to submit full-fledged proposals to ensure an alignment of objectives, compliances and eligibility of the NGO submitting the concept note, before the proposal stage. This also helps them in eliminating the ones which do not fulfill their selection criteria or are not appealing enough based on the donor priorities. To find out about such opportunities where ‘Calls for Concepts’ or ‘Calls for Concept Notes’ are advertised, you need to keep an eye on the relevant websites that might be aggregating such opportunities, aside from regularly checking the websites of the funding institutions or foundations in your domain and geography.

However, concept notes can also be submitted to the donors without a formal call for concepts. For example, this can be a good approach in cases where you have developed relationships with a donor or a funding organization over the years or you have worked with them in the past. You may approach such donors with appealing concept notes that describe your project briefly and capture their attention. If you are able to tick all the right boxes with well-written concept notes, you could be one step closer to submitting a detailed proposal and securing the funding for your project.

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