Grant Cycle 4 -2023 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Will AVFund be accepting new applications for this grantmaking cycle?
No. AVFund will only review applications that were submitted in 2022 through our open application system and fulfill our basic eligibility criteria.
What does AVFund's basic eligibility criteria entail?
The criteria necessitate organizations to have the following components: - African founded, African- based and African led - Serves communities in Sub-Saharan Africa only - Registered in its country of operations - A growing board (founding to more of a governance board) - Paid staff - Performs external audits every year for the past two years - Basic ﬁnancial management systems and processes in place - An annual operating budget of $150,000-$1,500,00 Detailed eligibility requirements can be accessed here.
Will AVFund ask organizations that fulfilled their 2022 eligibility requirements to submit any extra information to support their 2022 applications?
Yes, eligible organizations will receive a brief follow-up survey form, seeking current information about any developments that have occurred between their application in 2022 and August 2023.
When is the deadline for submitting the refresher form?
The deadline for submission is 29th August 2023 at 11:59 pm EAT.
Is it possible to make alterations to my organization’s refresher application form before the deadline? Absolutely.
Absolutely. You are allowed to modify your application, but it is crucial that you inform AVFund about the changes you've made through email. Kindly be aware that there's no requirement to submit a fresh application. We are actively working to minimize duplicate submissions. If you find yourself unable to edit the form, please inform us.
Which email address should I use to send a notification on the changes made on the refresher form and ask questions regarding the 2023 grantmaking process?
Please direct your inquiries or concerns to email@example.com while also copying firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is it possible to send extra supporting documents for my organization's application?
No, you are solely required to provide the requested documents through the refresher form. These documents must be uploaded within the refresher Google form. If you overlooked uploading the required documents via the Google form or need to modify the documents you've already submitted, please contact AVFund's grants team for help and direction. Notably, any supplementary documents that AVFund hasn't explicitly asked for will not be evaluated, in order to maintain fairness among all applicants given the high volume of applications under review. Lastly, ensure that these requests are made before the refresher form submission deadline.
Do we qualify if our budget has been below $150,000 over the last two years?
No. We believe that organizations within a $150,000 to $1,500,000 annual budget size are most likely at the right size and stage for our funding. However, we readily make exceptions and take into consideration the full context of an organization’s budget, cost of impact, and stage of development. We also seek to support organizations with diverse revenue sources and therefore aim for our annual grants to be less than 30% of an organization’s budget.
How many potential partners ( grantees) will be chosen in this round?
We will be considering a minimum of 8 organizations and a maximum of 12 organizations.
What is the grant amount?
$60,000 per year unrestricted for 3 years and an additional $15,000 for organizational development therefore a total of $75,000 each year.
Beyond grant money does AVF offer capacity building support packages to partners?
We are trying to move away from “capacity building” but our funding does come with $15,000 each year for organizational development.
How long is the funding period?
Partners will receive unrestricted funding for 3 years from the AVFund with possibility of renewal.
What's involved in the fourth grantmaking cycle review?
The AVFund Grants Team and Grantmaking Committee will assess the 2023 refresher form and the 2022 applications received through AVFund's open application system. Following this, virtual site visits will be arranged for the semi-finalists. You'll be informed about the results after each review step, providing clarity on your advancement and what to expect next. Please note that the final decision of partners to be funded will be made by the AVFund grantmaking committee.
What can we expect for the virtual site visits if we make it to the semi-finals?
AVFund will reach out to you to schedule a zoom call and share with you specific questions that your team will be required to respond to during the virtual site visit. The questions will be focused on understanding your organization in depth and will range from your financial systems, governance etc. You'll have the flexibility to select the appropriate team member to tackle each question. With sufficient advance notice, you can decide who from your team best represents the organization in specific areas.
What should our referees anticipate if contacted by the AVFund team?
We'll send a concise survey their way, containing targeted questions for them to address. Additionally, we're open to arranging quick discussions (via Zoom, WhatsApp, direct phone calls) with the referees to address these questions. If any referees aren't fluent in English, we'll make efforts to find interpreters to assist during the calls.
When is the grant expected to be awarded?
Grantees will know by the end of the year and we will share details about the formal announcement at that time.
When will AVFund open up the open application system for new applications?
We are currently working on a new system that will be more accessible to African visionaries and plan to launch it between 2024 -2025. Stay tuned for updates by subscribing to our newsletter here.
African visionaries often face the sharpest funding inequity during their transition towards growth and systems change. In partnership with our Founding Working Group, we have designed our grantmaking criteria to help us identify potential partners who are at the right growth stage for our funding and who have the foundations of organizational resilience to persevere.
We are sector-agnostic and highly focused on accelerating impact. We therefore partner with grantees across sub-Saharan Africa in the areas of Health, Human Rights, Education, Livelihoods, and Emerging Sectors with the goal of having a balanced and diverse portfolio of locally-led organizations across sectors.
1) Basic Eligibility:
We believe that the following criteria are a necessity to receive funding from the African Visionary Fund and as such, compelling applications must meet the following prerequisites.
African-founded, African-led & African-based: We support organizations that are African-founded, African-based and African-led. The organization’s founder/founders and top leadership position are all African. This person should report to the board and must have the decision-making power of an Executive Director/CEO.
Sub-Saharan Africa focus: We are currently focused on supporting organizations based in and serving communities in Sub-Saharan Africa only, with a long-term plan to be fully Pan-African.
Registered in their country of operations: For the most part, we grant to and partner with organizations registered as not-for-profit entities although we know that the specifics of an organization’s registration will look different in different countries and plan to accommodate on a case-by-case basis.
Board growing from a founding board to more of a governance board: We believe in the importance of an organization’s board development critical to their success. We are looking for organizations who are growing past the initial founding board stage to a more structured governing board stage with basic systems and structures in place. We prioritize organizations on a pathway to ownership of strategic and governance roles by the board.
Paid staff: Tackling complex social problems is a marathon and not a sprint. We believe that to do this work well, employees need to be compensated enough to sustain their lives. We are looking for organizations whose employees receive fair compensation for the work they do.
External audits every year for past 2 years: The organization is in good financial health and has at least 2 years of audited financials.
Basic financial management systems and processes: We believe that robust financial management practices support an organization’s sustainability and ability to deliver effective services. We therefore prioritize organizations that employ clear processes for annual budgeting, use basic accounting software, and incorporate regular financial reporting to the board and leadership team.
2) Funding early-stage and growth-stage organizations:
We seek to support organizations that are just past their early start-up phase and are seeking to accelerate their impact. These criteria help us assess which organizations have high potential for impact and need capital to get them to the next phase.
Min. annual operating budget of $200K, max of $1.5M (Indicator Only): We believe that organizations within a $200,000 to $1,500,000 annual budget size are most likely at the right size and stage for our funding. However, we readily make exceptions and take into consideration the full context of an organization’s budget, cost of impact, and stage of development. We also seek to support organizations with diverse revenue sources and therefore aim for our annual grants to be less than 30% of an organization’s budget.
Min. 3 years of operation: We believe that a minimum track record of 3 years gives most African social changemakers the chance to pivot when needed. We do not have a maximum number of years of operation because we have found that the start-up phase for many African-led organizations can be much longer due to being chronically under-resourced by a biased system of funding.
Clear and defined model: We recognize that clear models of impact do not always mean models focused on one particular issue but we seek organizations who can clearly define their model and know what works. We know that clear models do not always mean models focused on one thing. Holistic models can be just as clear, intentional, and aligned to a theory of change as those with a singular focus.
Clear articulation of the organization’s why: We look for leaders who are clear on why their organization exists and can clearly articulate the problem(s) their organization seeks to solve with intention.
Demonstrable Impact: We seek to support deep, systems-strengthening, community-rooted change with the recognition that this type of impact takes time and can sometimes be difficult to measure rigorously. We value organizations who can communicate the impact of their work and have ambition to increase their capacity to measure that impact, if needed. We do not require organizations to have RCTs or highly rigorous evaluations because we understand those are expensive and inaccessible at the stage we fund at.
3) Organizational Resilience:
We know that there are organizational assets that help impact endure and factors outside of funding that can impede an organization’s progress. We lookfor these factors of organizational resilience so that we can build upon an organization’s strengths.
Systems Change Focus: We believe that the world’s biggest complex social problems arise from broken interconnected systems with several players and multiple root causes of the brokenness. We also recognize through our own mission that systems change is a journey and addressing these root causes will involve trade-offs and require direct program work. We therefore look for organizations who have a strong awareness of systems change, can describe this understanding of the ecosystem they work within, and have a clear strategy to collaborate with key stakeholders to drive long-term change.
Mission-Lived Leadership: We recognize and value the knowledge and expertise of social changemakers with lived experience of the problem they seek to solve as well as demonstrated and persistent commitment to their mission. We prioritize organizations with proximate leadership teams who are guided by their own lived experience and care deeply about their organization’s mission.
Clear strategic direction: We believe that a vision without a strategy and a plan will remain largely unrealized and so we look for evidence of an organization’s strategic choices about where they will focus to achieve their goals.
Community-Driven: We believe that proximity matters in improving lives and we want to fund organizations that are deeply rooted and invested in the communities they serve.
Learning Orientation: We believe that learning at the individual and organization level are critical to success and we look for leadership teams that display self-awareness and humility. We look for examples of the ways organizations have used new information or data to change or improve their programs or operations.
Commitment to gender equity: We believe in the power of diverse teams to address the complex and often intractable challenges we face as a society.We also know that transformative change requires applying an intersectional lens to our work. We therefore seek to partner with organizations who have been intentional around gender equity—even when the organization’s work is not explicitly focused on women and girls—and are committed to tackling gender imbalances and injustices within their organizations.
Deep leadership bench awareness & aspiration (Nice to Have): We believe that the choice and cultivation of an organization’s leaders is vital to its long-term health and ability to deliver impact and seek to fund organizations with a deep commitment to leadership development and succession planning, regardless of budget size.
Strong governance systems: We look for organizations with a board of directors who serve as strategic thought partners and active fiduciary stewards of the organization’s resources. We want to support an organization on their governance journey and seek to understand what structures, systems, and reporting mechanisms have been implemented at the board level thus far.We recognize this will be different for each organization based on their board development stage.