Listening to applicants

Oct 31, 2018

How innovative approaches can support better programming for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights advocacy

Guest column from Rolla Khadduri – Fund Director, AmplifyChange

Version française

AmplifyChange is finding new ways to select grants and exploring how grant-makers can be more approachable to applicants. At ICFP 2018, we will be using an interactive grant-making process that encourages youth leadership in advocacy for young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health services and information, including family planning.


AmplifyChange is a multi-donor fund supporting small Southern-based, civil society organisations (CSOs) to advocate for SRHR.  Our role is to finance these local organisations; support their growth and development and ensure the voice and impact of Southern-based CSOs is recognised in international settings.

We are a competitive challenge fund –  applicants must submit their applications to be reviewed by an independent Technical Review Panel, and then endorsed by the independent Advisory Board.  All applicants want feedback – whether they are successful or not in their proposals.  And since innovation and transparency in grant-making are key to our success, we decided to respond by trying something new in terms of application and feedback processes.

Going live!

Earlier this year we staged a live application competition, hosted by the ViiV Foundation, at the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018).  We shortlisted five applications to pitch their projects to a panel of judges, giving them the opportunity to present their work to a wide audience that included peers and other donors.  Feedback was extremely positive on this new method of grant selection and we have applied the same approach to our AmplifyChange Live! @ICFP2018 Opportunity grant event.

To put youth voices at the forefront, we invited youth-led, Southern-based organisations to present video proposals focusing on advocacy for young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health services and information, including family planning.   We received 99 video applications in English and French from 25 countries.  Almost half of applications were received by WhatsApp.

We used our regular review criteria to shortlist eight finalists who will pitch their ideas live in front of a panel of SRHR expert judges during the final day of the ICFP Youth Pre-Conference on 12 November 2018.

Five contestants will each win a EUR20,000 grant. The top two winners will also present at the FPitch Fest on 14 November 2018 to have the chance to increase their project funding to EUR40,000 for up to 12 months.

Next steps

We are still learning about what works best, but we think the advantages of this approach are:

  • All short-listed contestants will have the opportunity to present their ideas to a large international audience
  • Applicants and audience members will see how fund-making decisions are taken as we provide feedback on why successful grants were selected
  • Applicants and audience members can ask questions and interact with donors in an open and transparent way
  • Young people will be inspired by the opportunity to present their work in new ways leading to increased youth leadership and more innovative programming solutions for SRHR advocacy.

As a challenge fund, we will continue to explore new ways to engage with grantees who are vocal advocates, leading resilient movements for change to fund innovative solutions to SRHR issues, increasing the impact of our investments.

For grant-making to truly encourage new voices and new partnerships, grant makers need to become more approachable. There needs to be greater transparency on decision-making, innovation and flexibility in grant-management processes in order to be inclusive to the most marginalised, including youth.

Follow all the action from AmplifyChange Live! @ICFP2018:

Twitter: @amplifyfund
Facebook: @amplifychange
YouTube: WeAmplifyChange


AmplifyChange is a multi-donor fund to break the silence on SRHR. Find out more and meet our grantees at

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