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Our 7 cents for a successful funding proposal to attend conferences

Domino piecesHave you ever found yourself in the situation in which you wanted to submit a funding proposal to support your  participation to an event but you were not successful in the end? If yes, keep reading.

Getting sponsorship is not an easy task, especially when it comes to attending international conferences. It is usually a lengthy process for which you start sourcing for funds at least 3 months before your intended travel (when possible). Therefore we provide you with some tips that you could have in mind before applying for a funding opportunity.

Put yourself in your potential funders’ shoes 

Sit back and start from scratch -  think first: “If I were standing on the side of the donor, what would I be looking for in a funding proposal?”A thorough research of the priorities of your potential funder and understanding his/her current area of focus is basic in order to anticipate their needs. Remember: Nothing works better than putting yourself in the shoes of who you are talking to.

“Sell” yourself

Donors and other organizations are very much solicited for funds. Therefore, try to be different from the rest of the candidates by contributing with an innovative idea that could benefit your funder. For example, you may want to propose to promote a recent project of the organization or to search for project partners during the event you want to attend. There are many ways in which you can contribute to their visibility; think of one or two strong ideas and share your insights on how you would bring these forward. Likewise, you may emphasize how this experience would help your career enhancement.

Keep it short

Now that you have your main arguments in mind, here comes the third step: draft your letter - be direct and accurate. Imagine once again that you are a Human Resources worker who has to check hundreds of requests. Many times HR people do not have much time to go through all the motivation letters they receive so try to make it short (one page long) and to the point.

Recommendation letter as A+

Reference letters are always welcome to present you as a strong candidate. Sending one along your CV and Motivation Letter, in relation to the thematic of the conference could  be helpful.

Multiple financial sources

Lastly make requests to multiple finance sources, e.g. local organizations, and keep following up with them all until you get a response, whether positive or negative. Follow every lead possible and do not be afraid to meet with one of your potential sources in person.

Be positive

Once you have sent your proposal, here comes another key stage: the waiting. It is very important to be patient and to keep a positive outlook. International organizations, particularly, usually follow long internal processes which may take some time,  so try not to despair.

Good / Bad luck

Finally and importantly, even if you get a negative response from a funder, do always answer with a thank you email. You may get some possibilities for funding in the future. As well, in the case you eventually make it, do not forget to send the funders your report on the event. By so doing you fulfil your responsibility and you build a long lasting relationship with them which is bond to pay off in the future!

Big Thank You to all the contributors who had provided their insights and who had been successful: Zaid Shopeju, Keron Bascombe, Nana Darko and  Peter Casier, Marina Cherbonnier.