Rapid response ‘mini grants’ for civil society

In our latest strategy refresh, we recognized how the pandemic has increased the urgency of our mission to transform public procurement to be better, fairer and more open. A critical part of that is a strong field of open contradicting advocates who can build countervailing power to overcome the vested interests that keep procurement in the paper-based, inefficient dark ages. And advocacy support is the number one request for support we receive from partners who are working to do exactly that.

That’s why in 2022, we are piloting an offer of small-scale, rapid response ‘mini grants’ to civil society partners to support the cost of your time spent on advocacy activities and on advocacy material development for upcoming procurement reform campaigns. We have trialled this model with a couple of partners in 2021 and received positive feedback.

As a general guideline, we expect to award three to five of this type of support over the course of 2022, and the amounts will tend to be up to $5K, although we will consider compelling opportunities beyond that if you can make the case for it and funds allow.

Here you can find more details on the qualifications and how to apply. We invite community feedback on this new approach throughout the year, and hope to learn from this initial round of support so we can decide whether and how to fundraise for expanding these resources in 2023 and beyond.

Who we will consider

Successful teams will:

  • Have a clear, specific advocacy campaign goal that is time-bound
  • Demonstrate their campaign goal will secure or drive progress towards a political mandate to implement open contracting that includes budget and human resource commitments
  • Provide a draft campaign plan with targets, deadlines, deliverables, and external milestones 
  • Designate a dedicated campaign manager who will own the key stakeholder relationships long-term. This person must be a permanent, full-time member of staff who is not solely funded by OCP support
  • Provide a clear outline of what success looks like, and how we will measure or assess it at the anticipated campaign end date.

What we will fund

We are happy to cover staff time, materials, and specific events and small research projects as long as these are directly supportive of the overall advocacy objective. We will not fund anything that is more general research or a scoping exercise, or anything that is politically partisan.

Expected results from grant support

Applicants must demonstrate that the materials and resources the grant will support will contribute to on-going, active advocacy, and influence campaigns. We will also ask for you to summarize your experience as a blog post, and contribute to lessons learned materials we can share with the community for peer exchange on open contracting advocacy approaches.

The campaign should target impact in the form of:

  • Building new evidence for a specific open contracting reform opportunity: Building evidence for the value of open contracting’s inclusion in a live regulatory or legislative opportunity
  • Opening up or monitoring contracting data: Opening up or making more accessible/usable contracting data that will lead to an improvement in policy, approach, procurement process, or resource allocation
  • Using contracting data for impact: Using existing open contracting data to build the case for an improved procurement process or law 
  • Educating lawmakers and civil servants ahead of new legislation or regulation: Making sure open contracting good practice is included in draft regulation or legislation 
  • Strengthening the implementation of a new law or regulation: Influence the rulemaking and/or implementation of recently passed legislation to ensure procurement processes are implemented in close alignment with open contracting principles

Selection criteria

We will prioritize applicants that provide:

  • Clarity on the objective that you want to achieve
  • Strong understanding of open contracting
  • Rough outline of the campaign plan with indicative timeline, political targets, and overarching goal
  • Track record of engaging government stakeholders 
  • Strong understanding of what you want to achieve and the present opportunity to leverage 
  • Sufficient staff and financial resources to carry out the proposed campaign (cannot be fully dependent on OCP grant)
  • Enthusiasm, flexibility, creativity and courage
  • Demonstrated commitment to making the campaign a high priority for the organization, central to its long-term vision and strategy

Selection process

We will accept applications on a rolling basis via email, and evaluate in-bound proposals as well as proactively recommend applying to partners where we sense a need. Proposals will be evaluated and given feedback, and promising applicants will be invited for an exploratory conversation with the head of advocacy, before advancing to a final interview with two to three members of the OCP team. We would seek to evaluate applications and provide feedback within 3-4 weeks and all applications will receive feedback. Applications should be short and may be submitted as word documents or slide decks and address the following questions:

  • Target government geography and level (e.g. Nigeria, Edo state)
  • Target government body and vehicle for change (a legislative bill, a regulatory change, a rulemaking call for input, a strategic court case/ruling — the name of the government body and the target legal instrument for influence)
  • High-level overview of the power dynamics at play, which incentives you will use and how you will build and shape power to influence the outcome
  • How this opportunity will embed open contracting norms and secure political support, budget and staff to implement the change 
  • Team — number of staff, their CVs and time dedicated to the campaign
  • Indicative timeline (estimated kick off and end dates, any key events, milestones or dates)
  • How the grant will make a difference to the campaign’s chances of success
  • Indicative budget estimate (how much funding you require and what activities or materials it will cover)

Get in touch to tell us about your campaign!

We encourage interested partners to contact our team for an initial discussion before preparing your application form. Please reach out to your regional manager or email our Head of Advocacy krobinson@open-contracting.org to schedule a brief call with us to discuss your advocacy objective, campaign timeline, expected impact and the specific challenge the grant will help address.

For support on improving advocacy skills, developing a theory of change, power mapping or other general capacity support, please see our advocacy toolkit and training offer.