How to renew your AmplifyChange grant – ActionAid, Gambia

Written by Fanta Jataa-Sowe, ActionAid, Gambia

Please describe the situation your organisation and project were in before you renewed your AmplifyChange grant.

Our organisation was in a state of dilemma. The initial project we received funding for was going well and we had reached over 26,682 beneficiaries, including survivors of sexual violence. However, despite this reach and the fact that many cases of sexual violence were now being reported, we knew that to further address the problem of sexual violence we needed to start work on policy engagement, educating communities and provide support and counselling to survivors of sexual violence. To start these new areas of work, we required extra funding and resources.

Furthermore, ActionAid is a member of the Network Against Gender Based Violence (NAGBV) and at the time of the original grant was being implemented, the capacity of the network members was weak. Most members did not have adequate institutional systems, particularly related to governance, finance and internal controls and training and skills strengthening was only provided on ad-hoc basis.

Please explain briefly why your project required the additional funding of a renewal grant and how this extra funding would result in additional success.

A renewal grant would allow us to start working on policy, education and support to survivors. It would consolidate gains made in our anti-FGM work and expand and strengthen the youth engagement and relationship with new allies, such as religious leaders.

The renewal would also enable us to conduct research to develop a better understanding of the complex dynamics of sexual violence, which would further guide our policy and advocacy work.

What changes did you make, and how did this enable you to successfully renew your grant?

We changed the project title, indicators and milestones to reflect the additional issues we wanted to address.

We suggested a move away from providing short-term capacity building for the NAGBV members to instead putting in place long-term sustainable systems. For example, instead of ad-hoc financial training we now have implemented a financial system, which produces reliable financial reports. As such, even if trained staff members decide to leave the organisation, the system remains in the organisations.

We introduced a peer-to-peer capacity-building initiative – we involve survivors as active stakeholders, rather than just providing support to them. The initiative brings together all the members of the NGBV and recipients of AmplifyChange funds to skills share workshops where each organisation presents their work and experiences as well as challenges and how they tackle them. This has created linkages for ongoing networking and collaboration, and enabled the empowerment of survivors to lead on advocacy activities.

What did you learn from this renewal experience?

  • Evidence-based proposal writing makes successful proposals. Evidence can either come through observation and experiments (empirical data) or from routinely collected data.
  • When developing proposals, there needs to be consultation with the partners who will be involved in the project implementation. Partners should also be regularly updated on project progress, spend and key information from the donor. This builds close partnerships, which facilitates good project planning and proposal writing for other grants.
  • Good performance on an initial project gives the donor confidence that you can do it.

What are your tips for an organisation hoping to renew their AmplifyChange grant?

  1. Perform well in the initial project and demonstrate good financial management.
  2. If implementing through partners – be transparent with them, let them have access to all the project documents.
  3. Keep track of emerging issues related to the initial project.
  4. Do not develop and submit a completely different proposal from the initial project.

Fanta Jataa-Sowe, ActionAid, Gambia

Fanta Jataa-Sowe is the women’s rights Programme Specialist in ActionAid Gambia. Her work focuses on primary prevention and response to gender-based violence and economic empowerment through partnership with CSOs and state actors. Fanta’s passion and experience has help ActionAid to mobilise resources for their work on female genital mutilation and sexual violence.