YALI RLC Alumni Nigeria
18 min readMar 26, 2019

Date: 23rd March, 2019.

Moderator: Engr. Ronald Ajiboye. Facilitator: Brenda McWilson-Okorogba.

Guest’s Profile: Brenda McWilson-Okorogba is a multiple award-winning Youth Education and Engagement Specialist. A Scholarship Search Strategist, Non-profit Communications Professional, Grant Writer and a Community Builder. She is experienced in diverse sectors --- individualized learning/heutagogy, facilitating youth programs focused on women and girls’ rights, financial literacy, community sustainability, grant Writing: prospecting & sustainability, digital marketing, cultural inclusion, mental health and strategic intervention coaching, effective storytelling workshops, life-changing journaling, team-building exercises, leadership training, and creative wisdom circles.

Brenda’s wholly committed to inspiring, motivating and empowering youths to be the best they can be. Brenda is passionate about improving quality of life by promoting access to inclusive education which can equip people with the tools required to develop innovative solutions to the world’s greatest problems.

Brenda manages two major projects - Momentswithbren Scholarship Series and Skills Training, and a Compassion Fund. She works to foster, inspire and create opportunities for youths and support initiatives focused on tackling systemic inequality on a global scale. Brenda has directly worked with students on their applications who have received about $2.2 Million in scholarships across Africa and Canada since 2017.

(Twitter: @momentswithbren and LinkedIn: Brenda McWilson)


Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center (RLC) West Africa Nigeria Alumni Chapter is an organization that brings together the Nigerian Alumni fellows of both the Online and Onsite (Lagos and Ghana) fellows whom have been certified by the RLC body to foster alumni meetings through member/alumni body organized events or projects, create business/project connections amongst members and the alumni body, create interactions on a regular basis in order to exchange ideas, experiences, and discuss issues relevant to the topics of leadership, public management and civic engagement, which are all geared towards the development of the alumni, our communities, and country as a whole.

This masterclass session is bifurcated into two;

A. Brenda’s teaching session and

B. Questions and answering session

“Hello brilliant changemakers and trailblazers,

Like Ronald mentioned, my name is Brenda and I am here this evening to share with us tips on Grant Prospecting and Writing. I will make this session very concise and informative so everyone can learn more.

We have all heard that there are various grants out there. Some people need grants to run their projects as a non-for-profit, small scale business, social initiatives including school projects.

So today I will be speaking on Grant Prospecting and tips for writing a successful grant proposal.

I will also share some websites where you can search for grants at any point in time. Most of the websites are updated monthly or yearly which is really good.

Again, I know members of this group are in Africa and I am here to inform you that there are international organizations that fund projects in Africa.”


In order to be successful both in the grant writing process as well as with any funding that you may receive, your organization must take enough time to plan before you actually dive into writing grant proposals.

What information should you gather before you start searching and writing grant applications?

1. The Organization: Every grant application you seek will ask for information about your organization. On top of the typical questions about your name, organization/charity/business registration number, etc., will be questions about your leadership and organizational history.

Before you seek for grants, take some time to respond to these questions, as well as any other questions you can think of that refer to your organization:

A. Why was your organization founded?

B. What is the mission of your organization?

C. Who does your organization help?

D. What programs does your organization run and what is involved in these programs?

E. What other grants have your sought?

F. What were the outcomes of those grants?

2. The Program or Project or Social Initiative or Business Idea: While it is great that the organization above is all fired up about this new program or project you have written down, you need to take the time to really develop your idea (by writing and editing what your plans or proposed project entails including the outcomes). Take time to think through the program and write up all the details.

A. What exactly are you going to do in this new program?

B. How many people are you hoping to reach?

C. What are going to be the goals and outcomes?

D. How does this new program correspond with your organization’s mission?

E. Are you going to charge for this program?

3. The Budget: In addition to planning out the program or project that you want to start, think about the budget. This will be an extremely important part of any grant application that you write, and funders want it to be detailed.

A. How much will the program cost?

B. How much will the individual pieces cost? (For instance, if you are planning to start a fresh healthy drink business e.g fresh fruit and veggies juice or smoothie for pregnant women, you will need to think about the cost of things you will be need to buy for you to operate a successful business).

Your budget helps you keep in mind the amount required for expenses, what needs to be purchased and you should watch out on various prices of the equipment or things you need so you don’t spend too much.

When talking about budget on your grant application, you want to be as honest and transparent as possible. Don’t write a really high figure for things you know the funders will definitely check the market value for whatever you have written.

Also, when planning your budget, no matter the project or program, be mindful of “babbittry”. This simply means narrow-minded materialism. Ask yourself what and why do I need to buy XYZ equipment. Ask yourself why do I need to pay ABC for a service that I can get on pro bono or solicit for help from enthusiastic volunteers.

So be very mindful of your budget. If the grant is a large sum of money e.g $50 - 100, 000 USD from may be a top funder or the govt, you might be required to provided a detailed budget with tables, graphs and other data. This is very common in Canada where I reside. Some organizations go as far as hiring a professional grant writer because of this.

Most funders do a post assessment and they want to know how or what or when the money they gave you was spent.


You can apply for funding for small and large-scale projects from a wide range of organisation. Money is essential for NGOs/Small Businesses/ Emerging Social Initiatives to implement any program they are working on.

When writing your funding/grant application, please be a good communicator, be concise, transparent, and honest. Don’t tell lies or exaggerate.

Please there is a difference between a sponsorship proposal letter and a full funding application proposal. A sponsorship letter is a fundraising request sent to prospects that offers the recipient an incentive in exchange for some form of promotion for said companies/prospects.

A. The grant application will list all the steps and documents needed for submission. It is important that you follow all the directions exactly as they are stated when filling out the grant application. It can range in length from 5-20 pages. Grant prospective & writing takes time.

B. Learn how to use storytelling to write your grant application.

C. Do you know what need your organization is addressing?

D. Can you explain this need to others and back it up with facts, statistics, and data?

E. What is the need that this organization is addressing?

F. What is the gap that they fill in society?

Think about what we call "Organizational Readiness"

Here are some key indicators of whether or not your organization is ready for seeking grants:

A. Do you know what need your organization is addressing?

B. Can you explain this need to others and back it up with facts, statistics, and data?

C. Does your organization have a full staff and Board of Directors?

D. Does your organization have a diversified funding system?

E. Is there someone in your organization ready to dedicate the necessary time to researching, finding, writing, and applying for grants?

F. Are they also prepared to report to any funders who approve your organization’s request?

G. Can your organization prove that you are making an impact?


Once you learn about grant writing, you can create a winning grant proposal. Here are some tips to help you write a successful grant:

A. Research every detail of your project to make sure it is feasible before applying for a grant.

B. Look for funding sources that typically fund similar projects.

C. Consider local grant funding sources first. Local sources increase your chances of success because of business community loyalty.

D. Start the grant writing and application process as soon as you know that your project is viable.

E. Submit the grant proposal before the deadline to make sure that it reaches the funding organization in time.

There are so many ways to write a strong grant proposal that can get you funding for your business or NGO. Your grant proposal should include objectives, strategies, and action steps to get and keep these resources. For example, you should at least have a draft or a partial list of what your plan will probably include

A. A list of all items and needs of the project

B. The amount required to sustain each item

C. Current resources

D. Required resources

E. Potential matching and funding organizations or individuals

F. Amount that will be requested from each organization, individual or funding source

G. How it will be requested (and by whom, and when).

H. Are you going to be writing the grant yourself or using a professional grant-writer?

Now basic tips for grant prospecting and writing; Your grant proposal is more like an “EoI” -- Expression of Interest

1. Read the guidelines carefully and thoroughly (this is very important). Know as much as you can, about your funder or sponsor before starting to write your proposal. Read all the necessary information before applying.

2. When responding to a specific request for a proposal (RFP), follow the suggested format as closely as possible.

3. Prepare your materials well in advance of the deadline.

4. Accentuate the positive. Emphasize opportunities rather than needs. State impacts of your project.

5. When writing your grant application, you should stress the importance of your cause and the necessity of the grant.

6. State the impact of receiving the grant versus not getting the needed funding. Avoid saying "if" rather use "when" I receive this grant.......

7. Do use outside research to justify your project. Show that there is widespread, well documented need for the program you intend to run, and that that program draws on experts and scholarly research in determining the best course of action to meet that need. Do your research.

8. Don’t overstate or estimate your budget. Be precise with your budget numbers and don’t build in money for contingencies. Ask for only what you need, and make sure that need is justified. If the funder says the available grant is btwn &10,00-100,000, please don’t write $150k.

9. Use a title that suggests the results you hope to achieve rather than what you plan to do. E.g. Improving Mental Health of Unemployed Youths rather than writing A Proposal for Mental Health of Unemployed Youths.

10. Write in a clear and simple language.

11. Make sure you say why this funder is the best source of money for this project.

12. Use graphs, charts, & maps to illustrate your points whenever possible.

13. Always include your plan for funding your project after the grant ends. Show you have other fundraising means.

14. Have someone proofread your proposal before you submit it.

15. Be honest and just write a compelling proposal.

A. A Cover Letter

i. The cover letter contains a brief summary of your application, introduces your organization, and introduces the need. Include the amount of funding that you are requesting, who will be served by your project

ii. and the need that will be addressed/solved. It is vital that you engage the funder immediately. Give the funding committee something that they want to read into, or else you might lose your grant application to the trash before they make it past this cover letter.

B. Executive Summary

Summarizes the project and need and entices the funder to continue reading the entire grant application.

C. Need Statement

Describe the problem that your project is going to address as well as the population that is being affected by this issue.

D. Project Description

The Program Description will outline and detail the project that you wish to start as well as how it will be implemented. Make sure to include information on the activities that will be accomplished as well as what your goals and desired outcomes are.

E. Organization Background

A history of your organization: why your organization was started (history & mission), what you do, who you help, etc.

Talk about organizational capacity, population you serve & provide an overview of your track record. Describe or list your programs.

F. Evaluation

Describe how you will determine the effectiveness of the project. How will you assess your program’s accomplishments? What information will you collect, how will you collect it, when will you collect it, and how will you analyze the collected data?

G. Qualifications

State your organizations qualifications & credibility to receive grant funding. Include information about what your organization’s accomplishments & show that your organization in confident with this new project. Avoid the 'I' factor. Write in the third person.

H. Budget

Include all of the costs for the project, any potential revenue from the project, funding that you are going to be receiving from other sources, & a narrative about the budget. Also include personnel costs, direct project costs, & administrative or overhead expenses.

I. Sustainability Plan

In the Sustainability Plan, explain how your project and be replicated upon success. Also discuss how you will continue to fund this project after the grant money has run out. This is very important. Is your project sustainable? Your project could be anything e.g a website, blog, app, monthly skills acquition workshop, education and mentorship hub, fresh food and veggies drink business (healthy eating on campus for students across all schools in your state), etc.

J. Submitting Other Requested Materials or Attachments

If they request for certificate of registration, budget for your current fiscal year, letters of support, research supporting the need, etc., please provide it. It will help establish your organization’s credibility.

1. The Pollination Project: They offer are seed grant of up to $1000 to support not for profit work on any issue that is aligned with our mission and values anywhere in the world. Apply if you are interested.

2. Are you representing a small NGO searching online for new grants?: Check this website for latest grants, calls for applications, calls for proposals, requests for proposals and other resources for NGOs. You can do a keyword search on the website.

3. Addax & Oryx Foundation: is to fight the root causes of poverty in Africa and the Middle East, by supporting projects focused on four core areas: health (including hygiene and drinking water), education, community development (including sanitation), and the environment.

4. Bestseller Foundation: Bestseller Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation that provides projects and businesses with tools, skills and financial opportunities that enable them to improve the lives of less privileged communities in China, Africa and India.

5. Flahive Family Foundation: The Flahive Family Foundation awards grants to groups promoting maternal health and wellness, women’s healthcare, education, and access to clean water in developing countries.

6. ELMA Foundation - Community Grants Program: The ELMA Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of Africa’s children and youth through the support of sustainable efforts to relieve poverty, advance education, and promote health.

7. Fondation Mérieux: Fondation Mérieux’s grants programme contributes towards financing projects that aim to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases.

8. Fondation SUEZ: The vocation of the Fondation SUEZ is to combat exclusion by favouring inclusion and consequently sustainably improving the living conditions and autonomy of persons via access to essential services, social insertion and social harmony.

9. Global Health Through Education, Training and Service (GHETS): Global Health through Education, Training and Service (GHETS) is a non-governmental organization dedicated to improving health in underserved communities around the world.

10. HEINEKEN Africa Foundation: The HEINEKEN Africa Foundation supports Mother & Child Care and Water, Sanitation and Hygiëne (WASH) projects in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa and DRC. For each project a partnership is created between the HEINEKEN Africa Foundation, the local HEINEKEN brewery and a local or international (N)GO. The Foundation provides funding and administrative assistance.

11. Segal Family Foundation: Supports organizations cultivating healthy, productive, and empathetic youth in Sub-Saharan Africa. SFF partners advance adolescent sexual and reproductive health, improve access to quality education, and increase youth employment.

12. International Foundation, The: The International Foundation’s philanthropic strategy is to work in collaboration with US-based non-profits to support activities that measurably improve the lives of the poor and disadvantaged in low-to-middle income countries around the world.

13. Headley Trust: Headley Trust funds development projects in sub-Saharan Anglophone Africa that address access to safe water and the promotion of better use of water resources and sanitation projects.

14. Village X: Village X is a nonprofit harnessing the cellphone revolution in Africa and the United States to change the face of development. We created a crowdfunding platform to raise investment for small-scale, community-led, transparent projects in Africa and the United States. Grassroots recipients plan, implement, document, and partially finance their own projects, with assistance from Village X representatives.

15. The Rufford Foundation: The Rufford Foundation is a UK based charity. Our main remit is to offer Rufford Small Grants for nature conservation projects in the developing world.

16. TRANSFORM - DFID and Unilever: The mission of TRANSFORM is to collaborate with innovators to reduce poverty and make sustainable living commonplace. As part of our mission to drive progress towards accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), TRANSFORM invites social innovators and entrepreneurs to submit their applications for market-based solutions that meet the needs of low-income communities.

17. THET Africa Grants Programme: The THET Africa Grants Programme supports health partnerships to deliver health worker training programmes in low- and middle-income countries with a particular focus on surgery, anaesthesia and community health.

18. World Connect: World Connect invests in and builds dynamic relationships and partnerships at the grassroots in the developing world, catalyzing local knowledge and initiative, and supporting women and communities to prioritize and tackle their own development challenges in their own unique ways. Each year World Connect invests in 100+ projects, pitched by local leaders and often in collaboration with supportive Peace Corps Volunteers.

19. Womankind: Womankind Worldwide is an international women’s rights charity working to support women and girls to improve their lives and communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We partner with women’s rights organisations on the ground, which are working to tackle the issues that affect women’s lives.

Governmental donors and Cooperation Agencies

20. Danish International Development Agency DANIDA:

21. Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency SIDA:

22. Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development ACORD:

23. Agence Francaise de Developpement AFD:

24. Agency for Co-operation and Technical Development:

25. Australian Agency for International Development AusAID:

26. Canadian International Development Agency CIDA:


28. Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation NORAD:

29. Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation SDC:

30. Swissaid:

31. UK Government Department for International Development DFID:

32. United States Fish and Wildlife Service:

33. Department for International Development DFID:

34. USAID:

Foundations, other public and private donors:

35. ACORN Foundation:

36. African Development Foundation:

37. Aid to Artisans, Inc.:

38. Jenifer Altman Foundation:

39. Bernard van Leer Foundation:

40. Bruno Manser Fonds:

41. The Christensen Fund:

42. Compton Foundation:

43. Cultural Survival:

44. Earth Preservation Fund EPF: http://www.earthpreservation.og

45. First People’s Heritage, Language and Culture Council:

46. Global Fund for Children:

47. Global Greengrants Fund:

48. KIOS – The Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights:

49. Oak Foundation:

50. Rainforest Action Network RAN:

51. Rainforest Alliance:

52. Rainforest Conservation Fund RCF:

53. Rainforest Foundation – International:

54. The Rockefeller Foundation:

55. Seva Foundation:

56. Seventh Generation Fund:

57. Small Grants Program for Operations to Promote Tropical Forests SGP-PTF:

58. Swedish Society for Nature Conservation SSNC:

59. ADC Foundation:

60. ACTIONAID Alliance:

61. African Women’s Development Fund AWDF:

62. Aga Khan Foundation – Canada:

63. Allen Foundation, Inc.:

64. The Asia Foundation:

65. Heinrich Boll Foundation: (English web)

66. Compton Foundation, Inc.:

67. Cottonwood Foundation:

68. Development and Peace/Developpement et paiz:

69. Echoing Green Foundation:

70. FinnChurchAid:

71. The Ford Foundation:

72. Freidrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation FES:

73. Global Catalyst Foundation:

74. Global Fund for Women:

75. Fund for Global Human Rights FGHR:

76. Green Development Foundation (Netherlands):

77. International Women’s Health Coalition:

78. Moriah Fund:

79. National Endowment for Democracy:

80. Netherlands Committee for the World Conservation Union:

81. Netherlands Organization for International Development Co-operation:

82. Open Society Institute:

83. Oxfam International:

84. Pacific Environment:

85. Peace Development Fund:

86. The Pew Charitable Trusts:

87. Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc.:

88. Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust:

89. Solidago Foundation: Email:

90. SOS Faim Belgique:

91. Swedish NGO Foundation for Human Rights:

92. Terre des Hommes TDH: Email:

93. Tides Foundation:

94. Weeden Foundation:

95. Winds of Peace Foundation: Email:

96. Xminus Y Solidarity Fund:

97. Mama Cash:

98. United Nations Development Program UNDP/GEF-SGP: http://www.undp.or/sgp

99. Asia Development Bank:

100. United Nations Foundation:


What if your organization is not yet registered but partners with another registered NGO and makes use of its letter-head, can such organization find grant funding?

What about someone/an organization that just wants to start, have done a community project once and wants to expand the work to cover other communities within its region, but isn’t yet registered with CAC, can funding be granted? Or if you are to use a registered NGO’s details to source for finding, how do you structure it to reflect your yet-to-be registered NGO?

When a grant provider is asking for shared cost with the applicant but the organization/applicant does not have any funds, how should they respond to that?

Are there platforms that support "boy child/men initiatives? As part of my foundation’s goals, we recently started a support system for men (launching next week). Most platforms we reached out to said their focus is more on women and children, thus this question.

How can we get data when we haven’t done so much projects?

I run a youth leadership capacity development organization and there’s this grant that focuses on animal farming (goat and fish) worth $20k. Can I use my organization or do I have to look for another that is solely rooted for agricultural purpose?

Can one include buying of land in the proposal or is renting better? Thank you

What if the grant seeking organization is just at the inception and idea stage, no track records, no recorded activity, just an idea, can we still seek funding and how can we gain the trust of the Funding organization? For instance, I want to organize a project or event geared towards Culture and Education, and I wish to get funding from UNESCO, can I just write to them even if they’re not receiving applications for grants or I say I want funding from B&MGF, can I just write to them even if they’re not calling for applications, and how can we contact these organizations, using UNESCO and B&MGF as examples?

What do you say about theory of change and log-frame as an essential component of a grant proposal?

What simplest approach can I give the M&E of a project during grant writing

How do I respond to the question of *innovation* in a project that look so simple or not technology based?


Yes, there are some grants and some call them competitions for Founders and Social Innovators that are open for projects at the idea stage. e.g. - The Pollination Project, Ford Foundation, AmplifyChange Opportunity Grants. Now as someone with a new idea and no history of previous grants won or major project done, you can still apply for funding especially to any call for applications that says open to all. Just take out time to read through everything I have shared today and be confident to start drafting a proposal. You can try the Pollination Project Grant.
Some organizations do not accept unsolicited applications. This is why it is very important to always check the website of the funder or donor to read their requirements or guidelines before sending any email or expression of interest. Most funders or funding organizations prefer to do a call for application with a deadline. Then interested applicants are free to apply before the deadline. That is how it works. The only time you can write to anyone on your own for funding is maybe to elites in your community, religious centre, family and friends or you might consider crowdfunding using some sites or even social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to raise some funds. When writing to individual donors, that is more like fundraising and you need to write a professional letter.

Please read through all that I have shared today. I addressed this already.

I must mention that LFA is important too because most donors use it and I have also used this while preparing grants here for some NGOs I work with. The logical framework Analysis (LFA) aids in the monitoring and evaluation of projects. This is why most grant applications will ask you to fill out a post grant assessment because they need to know what you used the funds for and how did you allocate or spread the funds on each part of your project. The Logical Framework can be used to evaluate the progress of the project and co-relate the activities carried out and results achieved. Like I mentioned about the components and models of Grant writing - such as goal, objectives, activities, results/outcomes and indicators. The Logical Framework helps in connecting all these components in one framework, presenting the tight relationship between them, leading to the achievement of the expected outcomes. So yes, the LFA is very very very important during grant writing and also post assessment.

Compiled by Dr. Ifunanya Stellamaris Chinweuba (Dr. STM).

Follow us on our Social Media pages (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), @yalirlcalumning for information about the next masterclass edition.



YALI RLC Alumni Nigeria

Official Page of the YALI Regional Leadership Center West Africa (@YALIRLCWA) Alumni Chapter of the Nigeria.