Last year we offered our applicants collective observations of issues we saw that prevented them from moving forward in the competition. Many appreciated this generalized feedback, and as we launch the 2016 Children’s Prize, we would like to share these insights to help you improve the quality of your application submission.
As funders, we value the connection between feedback and improvement; our goal is to elevate excellence. While it is impossible to provide the hundreds of Round 1 applicants individual feedback, we feel that the following recommendations apply to a significant majority.
- Thoroughly read the instructions. Make sure you understand the specific purpose of the prize contest itself, as well as each question asked. Make sure you meet the basic criteria required for the competition. If you cannot meet or adequately address it in your proposal, then you probably should reconsider applying. Answer questions directly and concisely. Make sure to sufficiently explain each answer for each question asked.
- Credibility is important. Explicitly state your assumptions. Explain how you arrive at estimates and what evidence/fact/science-based data you use for your assumptions. Describe direct links to any partners or organizations involved with the plan you are proposing.
- Use a solutions-focused approach. Emphasize the proposed solution rather than simply describing the problem.
- Balance cost-effectiveness with introducing novel elements to your work. Funders want to see their money used wisely and effectively. Be clear about the impact you seek to achieve. Think about the overall impact of your proposal in relation to the prize funds. Make the case for why your project should win.
- This may seem like an easy step to skip, but it may one of the most important things you do: Proofread! Invite a different person to proofread the material you plan to submit. This will ensure your application conveys what you intend, while being clear and concise about your plan. This may be especially beneficial for non-native English speakers.
Each round of the Children’s Prize competition serves a specific purpose. The first round is an open call to any person or organization with a ready-to-implement plan that is focused on saving the lives of children under-five from preventable and treatable causes. Given the brevity of the initial application, as well as the quantity of submissions received, applicants will benefit from approaching this round as a funding request “pitch.” Keep in mind that in the second round applicants will provide a more thorough and detailed plan that will include supporting materials such as a budget, timeline and references. Only 10-20% of the initial applicants are selected to participate in the second round.