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NWF does not accept unsolicited proposals. We think it is a better use of everyone’s time if we seek out the organisations we are interested in funding. We do this through desk-based research, scoping studies, conversations with experts and practitioners, recommendations from partners, grantees and other funders.

We usually learn about an area of interest and then seek out organisations who are working in this field. We request an initial meeting to find out more about the organisation’s work, their funding needs and priorities. We then invite them to submit a short proposal with guidance on the information we are looking for and the amount of funding available. We may offer a one-year grant in the first instance but with the intention of providing multi-year funding as the relationship develops. We can offer unrestricted, core or project funding. In some instances we award development grants to cover the costs of developing an idea to proposal stage.

The following principles guide our approach:

Respect for those working in the sector – we try and limit the time spent on proposals and reports; we only approach organisations and ask for their time when we think there is a strong likelihood that we will fund their work; we are driven by what they tell us they need; we make a £250 donation to any organisation on the rare occasion that they are invited to make a proposal which is then not successful. This is to acknowledge the time it takes to produce a proposal; we provide unrestricted funds where all the organisation’s work aligns with NWF’s priorities or where a strong relationship has been built. In other situations, funds will be broadly restricted – to fund a particular area of work but not tied to specific costs.

Openness – we share the likelihood of funding and details of our process with potential grantees; we commit to letting grantees know when the funding relationship is coming to an end with as much notice as possible; we conduct grantee surveys to gather anonymous feedback from those we support in order to learn and improve.

Collaboration – we encourage our grantees to work together and support the costs of collaboration; we are keen to work with other funders.

Relationships matter – we seek to build long-term relationships with those we fund. We hold initial conversations to learn about an organisations work; we aim to provide longer and less restricted funding over time; we provide continuation funding.

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