How to Apply / Current Opportunities / 2019 RFP Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Follow this link to the question submission form at the bottom of this page. Please keep an eye on this page for new questions and replies.

The 2019 RFP is now closed. 

Click on a category below to open and close the list of questions. Click on the link for this page in the menu at left to clear filters from using searches or tags.

Application Guidelines (40)

No! We do not require supporting letters from your institution or partners or documentation such as past publications, plans, terms of subcontracts, photos and maps, CVs, or letters of collaboration.  These may be requested at future stages but we do not consider them now and will not include any such documents in our first stages of review.  Please do not send supporting documents.

We are sorry to hear you are having trouble.  Here are some possible issues:

  1. If your internet connection is unstable, you may have lost connection with the server.  If you have entered text in the application, the best strategy is to select all the text in the browser and paste it as plain text into a document. That will let you rescue the text after you reconnect.
  2. You may have lost connection with the server and are seeing cached content.  If you have entered text in the application, the best strategy is to select all the text in the browser and paste it as plain text into a document so you can rescue your work. Then, clear the history and cache from your browser and reconnect to the portal. Or, switch to a different browser.
  3. Sometimes, the application will not allow you to save or submit if associated information is not saved.  We recommend exiting the application form and going to your ‘landing screen.’  Make sure your Applicant Profile is complete and saved.  Open your application to where it says “Add Contacts” and be sure that any contacts are complete and saved.  Now, reopen the application form and try to save and submit.
  4. You may be having trouble saving because you have exceeded the word count for a question.  Scroll through the application and look at the Word Count numbers in the lower right corner of the form fields.  Shorten any answers that exceed the limit.
  5. You may have not completed a required field at the top of the application in the A. Proposal Information section or you may have entered a value in the wrong format. Those fields will indicate if there was an error.

We hope this helps.  Our guidance is to be sure all associated forms for the Applicant Profile and Contacts are complete and saved and that you check fields for absent values or too many words.  If trouble persists, you may wish to clear your browser history and cache or to use a different browser.

Yes, it is possible that the Project Director is from a partner organization. We really back our Project Director’s 100% and we give them a lot of authority to adapt and change budgets and plans. Make a good case in your proposal why it is best to have the Project Director come from a partner organization.  The home institution of the Project Director is not an issue that would make or break an application. If the application progresses, you could expect some questions about how authority is structured. E.g., what if the Project Director wants to move more funds out of the lead organization and to her/his organization? Does the Project Director have both the responsibility and the authority to success if they are based at the partner organization?

We have funded projects as short as 9 months and as long as 48 months.  A most typical timeline is 24-36 months.  We would love to see more short, sharp, and focused projects to develop information technology tools in 12-18 months. What is most important is that you choose a time that is right for your success.  The longer a project, the more uncertain it becomes in the later months and the more expensive it becomes.  Biodiversity data and information systems can be developed relatively quickly and success is usually readily apparent in terms of online data and tools.  Regardless of the length of your project, it is important to show intermediate milestones that mark progress and success throughout the course of the project.  Since we seek projects that connect data and knowledge to users, we look for projects that address clear and present needs for knowledge and prefer those over projects that might promise that if tools are developed in the future, they will solve problems in the future.

Our next call for proposals will be announced near December 15th, 2019 for submissions near March 1, 2020.  We welcome ideas any time if you are considering developing a project for next year.

We will support any justifiable expense anywhere in the world connected to achieving a project’s goals.  Our goal is capacity development in Africa and we believe that is most likely to occur when funds, responsibility, and authority is transferred to or resides in Africa.  We support salaries, indirect costs, software, hardware, travel, meetings, etc.  Historically, we have not funded major capital items like vehicles and construction but we do fund local travel costs of vehicle travel.

We want background information on your approach. We generally do not need background information on the importance of freshwater or pollinators biodiversity. We look for background information that demonstrates knowledge of the subject and biodiversity information.  For example, almost all proposals to JRS say that there is a problem of ‘lack of information’ or ‘lack of data.’ The exceptional proposals will specifically cite how much data can be found in various databases and why that isn’t sufficient.  If you propose a data, web portal, or website, we look for background information that there are model websites or specific software/hardware stacks that you plan to emulate. When proposals wish to do field collection, we look for background on why methods and places are chosen to get valuable data to end-users.  If methods and technologies are being proposed to transfer to Africa, we look for background information on how they are applied elsewhere in the world. In sum, we are looking for depth of knowledge that relates very specifically to the activities you propose JRS to fund.

No. There is no limit on the subcontractor amount. However, the higher the percentage of the budget, the more likely we are to ask to see the scope, work plans, and budgets of the subcontractors. Generally, we don’t ask to see that detail.  When subcontractors are more than 20% of the budget, we expect more detail and that their work and work-plans are well described in the proposal. At the point that a subcontractor is receiving more than 50% of the budget, we would certainly ask why are they not the grant recipient?

We are unlikely to fund projects less than $15,000 other than conference sponsorship due to the high costs of grant administration.  Regardless of the amount, please justify your spending so that we can evaluate the feasibility of your proposed project.

Yes! We have provided Application Instructions in a downloadable Microsoft Word file here and on the Application Instructions page. There you can also find downloadable work planning and budget templates that we recommend for drafting your proposal.

The maximum amount that we advise for an application budget is $250,000. The budget may exceed $250,000 if project plans and budgets clearly justify higher spending. However, consider the activities that are essential to ensuring your project’s success. It is far easier to add in elements over time as we review and refine your plans, rather than to cut project objectives. We are less likely to invest more than $300,000 in a single project. Since 2016, our average conference support grant is $15,000, our average Planning Grant is $35,000, and our average Technical Implementation Grant is $230,000.  We are a small funder and are happy to co-fund projects with other funders where JRS funds the information technology components of other conservation efforts.­­­

Yes.  We generally think of the applicant is the organization. In the applicant forms on our application portal, the registered name for the Applicant could be someone like a Department Head or a Chief Administrator of some kind. The Project Director is the leader of the project and is the person who communicates with the JRS Biodiversity Foundation. The Project Director leads the work and has the authority to change plans and budgets in consultation with project partners.

If your foreign collaborators are on your payroll, they would be budgeted under Personnel. If the foreign collaborators are paid through a subcontract to their institution, they are budgeted as Subcontractors.  Think of our job as reading your proposal and “connecting the dots” between the money your request, the activities you propose, and the results you plan.  Everything in the application should help us make that connection.  If a subcontract is a large percent of the budget – let’s say about 20%, you should explain the use of funds and you might show their budget detail as well.  The JRS Grant Agreement gives us the right to request the contract and financial reports of your subcontractors.

Yes and no.  We are a financial institution and we look closely at budgets and at the quality of budget narratives.  If partners are mentioned as doing significant work, we will look to understand whether funds flow to those partners.  Sometimes proposals can appear inconsistent in their stated emphasis vs. what appears in the budget.  Sometimes, grant applicants have funds from other funding sources or regular institutional funds.  Those in-kind or granted funds can be added to our editable budget template and to the budget narrative so we understand what supports the activities in the project.  Money does tell a story about the cost of activities, their relative timing in the project, and the depth of planning that stands behind a project budget.  You may notice that the budget section of our proposal is the only section without a word limit as we welcome thorough explanations of costs and of uncertainties about costs.  Successful grant applications often present the budget in multiple ways. For example the budget may be explained by cost categories as well as by timed phases, project objectives, or by partners.

Yes. Project budgets may include travel to foreign conferences or the travel of partners to or from Africa.  Project budgets are the choice of the applicant and your budgets should reflect your plans and priorities.  Foreign travel can be quite expensive so the value to the project should be high.

No. Project Directors and grantees do not need to be Africa.  However… JRS aims to support the development of capacity for biodiversity data and information systems in Africa for conservation and sustainable development.  We believe that doing so requires that skills, responsibility, and authority must ultimately reside in Africa, for Africa, by Africans.  Most of our projects do involve U.S. and European collaborators. We will look carefully at project designs to see how African institutions and individuals play significant roles from the onset of the project.  Our experience is that projects fully-centered outside of Africa that promise transfer of know-how to African institutions in the final phases of the project, rarely establish sustainable efforts. We also look at the flow of funds to see funding appears to reflect statements about partnerships and roles.  We also ensure that primary authority and responsibility lies with the grant recipient so that as the project meets challenges and opportunities, funds can be reallocated as needed for greatest impact.

There are no specific requirements. We look for evidence that the project leader has the necessary skills for project management and technical management. We also consider whether the individual has a position in their home institution that permits them the time and authority to conduct the project.  Many of our project directors hold Ph.D.s and we also have several projects where the Project Director completed their Ph.D. during the project.  We aim to be flexible and look at a person’s record of success.

Yes! Please write if you wish to have feedback on a past proposal to JRS.  Be sure that the request comes from the original project director or team as we do not share information about proposals without the permission of the primary grant applicant.

Yes!  If, for example, the lead institution is from the Americas or Europe, we will closely examine the plans and flows of funds to look for significant African roles.  We may also look to see that if technical expertise resides out of Africa, that capacity development and knowledge transfer is a key component and outcome within the course of the project.

True, and that is a good observation. We ask you to distinguish the total project costs from JRS’ contributions. This is important to help us understand the resources that will support your success.  Our budget form does not include lines for those contributions.  Generally, applicants use the Budget Narrative section to describe any co-funding or institutional matches of funding; that section has no Word Limit.  Our budget spreadsheet can be modified and edited and many applicants have added lines for other funding or added tabs to the spreadsheet.  Please do what you think is best to help us understand how funds connect to resources, outputs, and outcomes.  If we need additional detail on co-funding, we will ask.

I’d say that whether a proposal advances to the final tier of consideration is really determined by the big things and not by the details though its is understandable that grant applicants worry about the details. Applications advance for the big things: (1) is it in scope? (2) does it develop biodiversity informatics capacity? (3) is data accessible and valuable to end-users? and (4) is it well planned?  By well planned, we look for whether the inputs of staffing, time, expertise, partnerships, technology, and money can be connected to specific outputs and results, and whether those activities and outputs fit into a logical causal change of valuable outcomes.  Virtually all proposals represent good ideas and intentions but most declined proposals fail for lack of focus, being too ambitious, claiming unlikely outcomes, unclear plans, weak informatics detail, and lack of end-user engagement.  Proposals need a strong budget narrative that explains the costs, their timing, and connections to goals – we are a financial institution and money matters really matter! We encourage you to plan your project before beginning the application form.

No. We can’t extend the deadline due to the timeline for other review stages.  If you have a gap in the proposal that would be closed with additional time, just note that explicitly and then reviewers can consider if that gap were closed, would it change the standing of the proposal. Before our final stage of internal review, applicants are offered the chance to revise applications in response to feedback and questions and that gives a chance to fill in gaps in information or plans. Again, we will not extend the deadline.

No.  This is not mandatory but is just a service offered to help applicants.  We encourage you to seek our feedback very early in your application process to be sure that you are in scope.  Almost one-third of applications are rejected in our first round of review for not being in scope of the RFP.

The indirect costs charged to you by your subcontractor(s) are up to you and your institutional policies.  In terms of JRS policy, we view subgrants and subcontracts as indirect costs themselves and usually do not permit grantees to charge much overhead on top of the subcontracts or we ask this to be a minimal rate.  For example, an organization that charges 15% overhead for its own costs, may be asked to only pay 5% for the subcontracts that ‘pass through’ to other organizations.

We are willing to pay the real costs of projects including there general costs but we wish that those costs be accounted for as direct costs so that they can be assessed and audited.  We note in particular that JRS makes grants to many types of foreign organizations that require us to have a degree of financial oversight, termed “expenditure responsibility” and that, from time to time, we may audit a grantee’s expenditures.

JRS is unlikely to change our Indirect Cost Policy for a government institution but we also make decisions on a case-by-case basis.  One alternative is to take costs that your institution wishes to recover in the indirect cost rate such as facilities costs and financial administration and put those as direct costs in the budget and note that in your budget narrative.  Our decision whether to fund a project will be determined by many other factors other than indirect cost rates.  We suggest that you apply as is consistent with your institutional policy with the forewarning that JRS may decline that indirect rate or ask you to put those costs as direct costs.

No. The Foundation may request additional documentation in the course of reviews and revisions.

No, we do not have a CV form and we do not require CVs or have a way to submit CVs. There is a short section in the online application form to provide brief biographies of the Project Director(s) and a section to describe Partner(s) qualifications.

We have no preference, design projects for success. Like any donor, we want the most impact for our dollar. An excellent site-specific project that yields transferable technology, skills, success and lessons may have a greater impact over the long-term than a national scale project.  Any regional project proposal would need to cite how it compares to any other regional biodiversity informatics projects that have (or have not) resulted in a strong residual national or local capacity. JRS might be at our best when we invest in capacity at the individual or network level.  We don’t have the staff, resources and on-the-ground presence to add significant value to most regional efforts.  However, we know that international NGOs might have regional organizations that can be effective at transferring technology and methods among country-based programs. Our advice is always that you should, propose what will be most successful since you are the experts in your domains and your countries.  We have no principle of equitable funding across countries – just the pursuit of results.

We fund many types of organizations. We prefer to invest directly in African institutions. If you look at our grant portfolio you will see a good number of U.S., U.K., and European grants.  We always seek significant African partnership in terms of roles and resources. Our overall foundation goal is capacity development in Africa for biodiversity informatics. By capacity development, we mean helping support African processes to enhance skills that serve their local needs.  Projects should be designed to be most successful which may favor a non-African institution leading the project. Project management, authority, and responsibility is a critical capacity to support African institutions. Many donors fund capacity development projects without ensuring that authority and responsibility devolve to the recipients of the skill-building. As a politically independent and risk-bearing funder, we can put money into low capacity organizations that others won’t.  We believe that funders who are serious about capacity development must risk investing in organizations that don’t have the capacity for success at the moment of the initial investment.

We’d likely fund only one proposal, but best to send both.   We are very unlikely to fund two proposals from the same institution given we only make 8-12 grants per year and have two grantmaking programs in seven focal countries.  However, submitting two proposals does not diminish the funding chances of either one and only positively reflects the strength and capacity of the applicant institution.  I generally advise not to second guess or have internal debates regarding JRS’ interests, but to apply and let our reviewers decide.  Our funding level is likely to be around 15% of the in-scope proposals so it is up to every applicant to weigh the odds of funding against the effort in applying.

Yes. All proposals are due on February 28th.  Why so soon? We need a week for internal review, a few weeks for external review, a few weeks for Board Review, and time for proposal revisions in order to make decisions at the end of May.  Please do your best!  We understand that you may not have time for “planning for planning grants” or that technical implementation grants still need ‘start-up’ time for planning and partnership formation.  We know that proposals will not have MOUs among the partners and that plans change during proposal revision.  Even after our grant approvals, we work with applicants to refine and improve their plans.  Generally, whether a project is of interest or not is based in the “big ideas” and whether the overall connections between budgets, activities, outputs, and goals are clearly described and generate confidence in the clarity of the thinking behind the work.

Yes! You can certainly be a collaborator on multiple project applications to JRS.  We always encourage applicants to actively engage collaborators and partners of different types in the proposal development process and in its review. Engagement of partners ensures good planning, accurate resourcing, and a fast start if there is funding.  If you are a partner on multiple proposals, we advise transparency with your partners.  We always encourage people to apply and not to second guess JRS’ interests.  We make grants on a “portfolio” basis in which a project that might be deemed to be less-well designed might fit well with other projects in our portfolio.  Also, we aim to develop capacity and we might support lower-capacity project teams.

No.  All JRS proposals must be submitted in English as this is the common language to the JRS staff and Trustees and to our external grant reviewers. The grant proposals become part of the legal agreement of the grant award and must be in English.

We expect to fund many types of organizations. Data sharing partnerships often include the types of organizations in your question. Our interest is to support sustainable systems for biodiversity data and information use. We will examine organizations for their long-term commitments to open access to data and to maintaining and using biodiversity data and knowledge. For-profit businesses are subject to special scrutiny by U.S. law and specific foundation practices to ensure that grant products are used for charitable purposes.

We hope to have the grants awarded by mid-June and all grant agreements and payments made by August. Sometimes an administrative glitch or the need for a revision could push those dates later. The majority of JRS projects are designed for 2 or 3 years yet we have also made some 12, 18, and 48-month grants. If we are excited by an idea but feel it needs more time or less time, we will work with the applicant to redesign the project. In general, forecasting out to four years of activity is much less accurate than 2 to 3 years and biodiversity informatics projects may have relatively short timelines as compared to other development projects.

It is very typical for our grants to have funds flow to multiple partners or sub-contractors.  We usually make the award to one recipient organization. However, we do have cases where transferring money first to Africa and then to Europe or the U.S. is costly, time-consuming, loses value in currency exchanges, is charged unnecessary overhead, or risks corrupt practices.  In those cases, the award is made to the African institution but the grantee requests that JRS make direct wire transfers to other African or ex-Africa partners.

No, we don’t grant to individuals. JRS only makes grants to organizations. Please see the first section on our Grantmaking page for ‘The Basics’ of what we support and do not support. We do examine whether the project director and key project staff are employees of the applying organization and whether they have stable salary support for the duration of the project. We aim to invest in long-term capacity in biodiversity informatics in sub-Saharan Africa at both the level of individual training and organizational development. Individuals may find training opportunities through JRS grantees and announcements on our website and we often fund Ph.D. and Master’s programs within our grant projects.

Our general answer is that you should design the leadership and management of the project for its success.  Our goal is to support Africans to develop the capacity for biodiversity data and information systems in Africa. A key criterion for us to consider funding is whether there is the investment in biodiversity informatics in Africa with African partners and institutions that will sustain the activity.  It is too often the case, that partnerships with European and U.S. institutions do not fully transfer know-how, technology, and leadership to their African counterparts.  We examine projects closely to see how resources and roles are allocated among partners. Should you choose European leadership, please make sure your proposal is clear about how the project supports capacity development in Africa and that African partners have meaningful roles to sustain the project activity.

Yes! Please just send a reminder email to JRSRFP@jrsbiodiversity.org.

Yes and Yes. We understand that organizations have different units and might apply as a lead applicant in some proposals and apply as a partner in another organization’s proposals. We encourage applications. Leaders within an organization should not debate or second guess which application is more appropriate for JRS – let us decide!  JRS funds on a project basis rather than by institutions and the proposals are judged independently.  We also approve grants as a ‘portfolio’ and we may choose grants that complement each other from different organizations or even ones that take different approaches to the same problem. All to say, it does not hurt in any way to submit multiple proposals and it would help show the strength of the institution.  We offer one caveat – it is helpful to acknowledge that there are other applications from your organization or that you and your partners are involved in multiple projects as this shows there is good communication within the institution and among partners.   Competitive proposals that don’t acknowledge each other may create a perception among reviewers that there is not communication or collaboration within the institution or partnership.  Please do not mention partner individuals or organizations without consulting them as they may also be involved in other proposals to JRS.

General Scope (21)

We will support any project design that is justified for the project’s success and impact.  Multi-country projects often have great potential for the transfer of know-how and technology. However, multi-country projects also entail greater complexity and may dilute funds across many partners.  There is no rule.  You’ll see many different models in our grant portfolio.  It is fairly rare that all the expertise for a project is found within one single country. It is more common that there are partners with specific expertise in other countries who are part of project implementation in different roles.

We want background information on your approach. We generally do not need background information on the importance of freshwater or pollinators biodiversity. We look for background information that demonstrates knowledge of the subject and biodiversity information.  For example, almost all proposals to JRS say that there is a problem of ‘lack of information’ or ‘lack of data.’ The exceptional proposals will specifically cite how much data can be found in various databases and why that isn’t sufficient.  If you propose a data, web portal, or website, we look for background information that there are model websites or specific software/hardware stacks that you plan to emulate. When proposals wish to do field collection, we look for background on why methods and places are chosen to get valuable data to end-users.  If methods and technologies are being proposed to transfer to Africa, we look for background information on how they are applied elsewhere in the world. In sum, we are looking for depth of knowledge that relates very specifically to the activities you propose JRS to fund.

No. Project Directors and grantees do not need to be Africa.  JRS aims to support the development of capacity for biodiversity data and information systems in Africa for conservation and sustainable development.  We believe that doing so requires that skills, responsibility, and authority must ultimately reside in Africa, for Africa, by Africans.  We look carefully at project designs to see how African institutions and individuals play significant roles from the onset of the project.  Our experience is that projects that are fully-centered outside of Africa that promise transfer of know-how to African institutions in the final phases of the project, rarely establish sustainable efforts. Money talks. We look at the flow of funds to see how funding appears to reflect statements about partnerships and roles.  We also ensure that primary authority and responsibility lies with the grant recipient so that as the project meets challenges and opportunities, funds can be reallocated as needed for greatest impact.  You will see many grants in our portfolio to non-African institutions and non-African project directors.

Category: General Scope

No, not as a stand-alone project. Public education and advocacy is not our expertise.  However, many projects funded by JRS have some form of public outreach to the media, farmers, fishers, policy-makers, etc.  We do provide support for public education but also seek to understand how that supports the aims of the technical project.

Category: General Scope

Yes. For-profit companies may be partners and recipients of subcontracts from our grantees.  JRS may provide a grant directly to a company if that company is pursuing a charitable purpose and the related products will become public domain.  There are special requirements for making a grant to a private company to assure the funds are being used for a charitable purpose.  We would also have to understand how investment in that private company supports long term capacity development in the public domain.  We are more inclined to make grants to public and charitable institutions and have those grantees use private partners as needed.

Category: General Scope

Yes!  Almost all of our projects that involve field data collection and data digitization or cleaning involve steps of taxonomic determination.  Sometimes these projects result in the publication of new species and taxonomic revision.  We do not fund taxonomic research that is stand-alone.  However, we do not fund stand-alone taxonomic research such as resolving phylogenetic trees, DNA barcoding of cryptic species, and mass barcoding of micro-organisms.  We are interested in expert systems and citizen science systems that might lower the time and cost of taxonomic identification.  We support taxonomy at the more applied level to promote data collection and access rather than as a research aim.

Category: General Scope

Yes. We have several projects that are using a citizen science approach – data collectors are not trained, scientists.  Citizen science projects often use mobile apps. Whether your project is using an existing app or developing a new one, we look for a rationale for that technical choice.  Experience also shows that the social dimension of forming and motivating a citizen science community takes significant investment.  We welcome applications that use mobile technologies and find ways to increase the scale and lower the cost of biodiversity data collection.

Category: General Scope

No. We do not provide general operating support.  Our interest is data and information systems.  Something that is in scope might be if there was a network of field stations and a data system could create access to biodiversity data and great value from past and future data.

Yes.  We focus our investment for technical projects in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, and Malawi.  However, if a project includes another African country and there is a strong rationale for its inclusion, we will consider that project.  One successful approach that we’ve seen in applications is to propose additional countries and their added cost and benefit to the proposal.

Yes, we welcome multi-country projects.  Managing and implementing international projects can add cost and complexity and can also greatly increase your impact and the expertise of the project team. As with any aspect of project design, the application should present a strong rationale for the approach.

Yes. Project budgets may include travel to foreign conferences or the travel of partners to or from Africa.  Project budgets are the choice of the applicant and your budgets should reflect your plans and priorities.  Foreign travel can be quite expensive so the value to the project should be high.

Yes, JRS makes conference support grants.  We support conferences related to biodiversity informatics and to biodiversity informatics for Africa.  We also have provided support to have conference ‘tracks’ or symposia related to biodiversity informatics within domain-specific conferences. For example, in 2018 we supported biodiversity informatics content at the International Dipterology Conference in Namibia and the Pan African Fish and Fisheries conference in Malawi.  We have also supported travel of African scientists to international conferences on biodiversity informatics.  We do not provide individual travel support grants.  Conference support is generally modest and has ranged from $1,000-$20,000 depending upon the relationship to our strategy.

Category: General Scope

We are not likely to consider proposals that are centered on terrestrial mammals unless there was either a strong link to freshwater ecosystems or if the mammals were really a significant driver of a biodiversity information system that was broadly applicable at a local level.  Our interest is in the data and information systems and we are working to focus on countries and domains where we believe there would be demand for knowledge. We recently made two grants in Rwanda for national biodiversity data and information system efforts in wetlands. Both projects will collect mammals data in service of the freshwater ecosystem assessments.  See: https://jrsbiodiversity.org/freshwater-information-for-rwanda-arcos-coeb-2018/

Category: General Scope

No we do not target specific hotspots or Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). However, we are looking for a strong rationale for why you propose to work in specific areas.  For example in pollinators, is it an important conservation area, a diverse landscape, a landscape representative of agriculture, a landscape proposed for development, an area of good access, etc.… The specific reason isn’t as important as that the project team has a strong purpose and a strong hypothesis of what makes the information relevant and valuable to information users now and in the future.

Category: General Scope
Tags: Hotspots, KBAs

Yes.  We will prefer projects centered in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Botswana, and South Africa.  Some work and partners or collaborators may be based in other countries.  Projects that focus primarily on Capacity Development for biodiversity informatics may be broader in scope or based in other countries, providing there is reach into or participation from our focal countries.  If projects are centered in one of our focal countries they may have collaborators and some work in other African countries. Please write to JRS if you have questions about the geographic scope of your work.

Yes, we welcome projects for capacity development in biodiversity informatics in 2019.  These projects would not be as strictly geographically limited as our other projects. However, we look for capacity development aimed at the root competencies for creating, managing, and promoting biodiversity information systems, such as the subjects you might see in the Biodiversity Informatics Training Curriculum.  Our strategy is “demand-driven” and we would look for strong roles of African institutions and evidence that the capacity serves local needs.  JRS is not likely to fund projects that develop capacity solely in other areas of conservation, taxonomy, or ecology.

Category: General Scope

We have no preference, design projects for success. Like any donor, we want the most impact for our dollar. An excellent site-specific project that yields transferable technology, skills, success and lessons may have a greater impact over the long-term than a national scale project.  Any regional project proposal would need to cite how it compares to any other regional biodiversity informatics projects that have (or have not) resulted in a strong residual national or local capacity. JRS might be at our best when we invest in capacity at the individual or network level.  We don’t have the staff, resources and on-the-ground presence to add significant value to most regional efforts.  However, we know that international NGOs might have regional organizations that can be effective at transferring technology and methods among country-based programs. Our advice is always that you should, propose what will be most successful since you are the experts in your domains and your countries.  We have no principle of equitable funding across countries – just the pursuit of results.

This is jargon but also a genuine difference in philosophy and approaches between capacity building vs. capacity development. Capacity building has an external orientation of ‘we will build their capacity’ and ‘capacity development’ has more of a partner orientation of ‘we’ll support their processes that develop the capacity to achieve their goals.’  There are a variety of definitions on the web and most feature a statement like:

Capacity-development is the process through which individuals, groups and organizations, and societies deploy, adapt, strengthen, and maintain the capabilities to define, plan and achieve their own development objectives.

The operative idea here is ongoing processes for the local actors’ objectives and priorities.  For example, a one-time workshop to train people in how to use an informatics tool developed overseas may be valuable capacity-building.  Conducting workshops and experiential training over time in locally-defined priority areas so that people can access new skills and tools on their own, train others, create new tools, and build their organizations would be capacity development.

Category: General Scope

There can be tension between investing in international platforms vs. more local platforms and there are good arguments for both. We aim to expand access to and use of biodiversity data and information services in Africa and to support local capacity development to do so. We know that it is vital to involve end-users in system design and data content. It appears more likely to build locally relevant services if there are local partners and local ownership. We will always favor projects that make a compelling case that data will be used and have users involved. Yet, there is greater capacity outside of Africa and the international data platforms are important for decision making in major development banks and development agencies of OECD governments. Enhancing an international platform to improve access to and visualization of African biodiversity data would certainly be good but we’d have to understand the benefits to African capacity development. An interesting question may be: How can an African host/mirror or an African front end to international data platforms might increase the use and relevance of the platforms for local needs?

Category: General Scope

Neither. We are looking to invest in biodiversity data and information services that have applications to conservation actions and sustainable development decisions. Such data, information and knowledge is often applicable to research but do not solely fund research. There may be cases where answering a research question is critical to a conservation or development decisions. JRS only funds the biodiversity informatics components of conservation and development projects and does not fund direct interventions such as land purchase, livelihood development, and public education. We typically fund data collection, data enhancement, portal development, mobile technologies, IT infrastructure, and training as is described in the projects in our Grant Portfolio.

Category: General Scope

We often receive proposals that seek to make improvements to global databases or to link global databases.  Our focus is on capacity development for biodiversity informatics in Africa.  We would need to see a compelling case why JRS should support a project that has not been supported by global and regional funders in other areas and how such a project involves the transfer of technical know-how and responsibilities to African partners.  It has been more typical that we fund an Africa-centered project that includes a small global contribution than we fund a global project with a small African contribution.  In any case, we would look for user engagement in Africa to create a sustained demand for the biodiversity information knowledge or tools. We are happy to review any project concepts to see how JRS may contribute and perhaps partner with other international donors.  

Category: General Scope

Freshwater Scope (11)

Yes! We consider catchment basins to be within scope. For example, in 2018, we made a planning grant to the Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management at the University of Rwanda to plan a freshwater information system that focuses on the Mukungwa Catchment area in Rwanda. Our choice of freshwater systems is to find intersections of conservation and human needs where there is a high demand for biodiversity information systems.  Projects in catchments may offer the opportunity to partner with basin management authorities at a national or transboundary level. That demand for information, in turn, sustains the capacity for biodiversity information systems that is our goal. A project focused on a catchment basin would need to demonstrate partnership between data users and data providers and development of capacity.  A focus on species or technical platforms or partners that are applicable to freshwater ecosystems would make the application competitive for funding.

Yes. The focus could be on invasives impact on freshwater or pollinators biodiversity.  However, our interest isn’t the impact per se. Our focus is on the biodiversity data and information systems so there would need to be a compelling impact on capacity development for biodiversity information systems in the country or countries where the project is based or active.  An emphasis on surveys and data collection rather than the information technology and data access would be less competitive than projects with a strong biodiversity informatics focus. Strong links to users and data application are particularly important relating to freshwater.

Yes.  Saline lakes may be homes to freshwater biodiversity and closely connected to protected areas or freshwater resources.

Yes, water birds are within scope.  Like with any biodiversity data, we’d look at a water bird project to see how that biodiversity data is linked to local or national needs for decision-making related to conservation and sustainable development.  We’d also want to understand how the project supports capacity development in biodiversity data and information systems.

Tags: Birds, Species

We are interested in technology platforms and methods for data collection that can be deployed at large geographic scale, are low cost, and can be used by field staff with relatively little formal training or expertise.  Such methods sometimes fall under the category of “citizen science” and employ mobile technologies, distributed teams of experts,”para-taxonomists”, community review, or other methods to generate high-quality data and data that can be collected and shared using global data standards.  Platforms used by JRS Biodiversity Foundation grantees include – but are not limited to – Cybertracker, iNaturalist, and SMART.  The geographic scale, threats to biodiversity, the rate of biodiversity change, and knowledge gaps are so great on the African continent that a meaningful coverage of biodiversity data cannot be obtained at the funding, speed, and expertise levels available in some other parts of the world.  Just as the African continent leap-frogged the need for hard-wired telephone service, a similar technical leap is needed for biodiversity data collection and access.

No. Like most donors, we hope to have the greatest effects with our investment by investing in (a) important problems and solutions that (b) might be transferred and replicated. For example, a data platform that could be applied to many freshwater key biodiversity areas is more attractive than a very local database. Or, a data sharing partnership that spans a major catchment basin where there are many human needs and pressures from near-term hydropower and mining development would be more attractive than digitizing a legacy dataset from a single lake. Many of the important decisions about biodiversity are being made in economic sectors other than the conservation sector and over time we hope to see uses that influence economic development decisions and decisions such as dam locations, land-use, and energy development. We do not make very large grants and a problem and project might be too big for our resources. Thus, we must balance creating access to biodiversity data that might have multiple uses for important problems with our available resources.

IAS are not mentioned in the call as a specific interest but certainly would be in scope if there is an argument for the value of the data and there is a clear use and user.  Invasive alien species may fall within the freshwater or pollinators program. Given the multiple efforts to create IAS data resources, we’d have to understand why a new one is better designed for success that is relevant to users. Our experience is that projects without specific users being involved and a use case being the driver are not sustained in the long-term.

Yes, we fund primary data collection. We need to understand how that data supports the users’ needs and fosters the development of the related biodiversity information system.  We often fund primary data collection when it fits within a full concept such as the new data collection helps to develop capacity in the full pathway from the field to data access and use, or develops some particularly valuable data sets, or answers a conservation science or ecological question. It is just a matter of balance between resources spent on data collection and resources spent on data access. Whereas there are other funders that support data collection, we are the only funder focused on biodiversity-related information technology and its use.

That work is not likely to fall within our scope. Our goal is to help Africans develop capacity in biodiversity informatics. We believe that biodiversity information systems for research and conservation will only be sustained if the system meets demand for biodiversity information and knowledge.  The information you seek at the level of differentiating cryptic species is a level of taxonomic research that is hard to connect to immediate information needs for conservation and sustainable development.

Yes.  Estuaries are in scope but they might be less in the bulls-eye of the target than a pure freshwater system project. Our choice of freshwater systems is to find intersections of conservation and human needs where there is a high demand for biodiversity information systems.  That demand for information, in turn, sustains the capacity for biodiversity information systems that is our goal. A project focused on estuaries would need to demonstrate partnership between data users and data providers and development of capacity.  A focus on species or technical platforms or partners that are applicable to purely freshwater ecosystems would make the project of greater interest than one with a focus on the marine end of the estuary. [Q: 23 Jan, A: 23 Jan]

No, West Africa is not within the current scope.  We have a geographic focus since our overall goal is to help countries develop the capacity for biodiversity informatics and that requires knowledge and networks within a country, physical infrastructure and expertise, and a critical mass of data providers and data users. As a small organization, JRS cannot serve grantees across many countries.

Pollinators Scope (8)

Yes. The focus could be on invasives impact on freshwater or pollinators biodiversity.  However, our interest isn’t the impact per se. Our focus is on the biodiversity data and information systems so there would need to be a compelling impact on capacity development for biodiversity information systems in the country or countries where the project is based or active.  An emphasis on surveys and data collection rather than the information technology and data access would be less competitive than projects with a strong biodiversity informatics focus. Strong links to users and data application are particularly important relating to freshwater.

Yes!  We are open to species beyond insect species.  We would look for a strong rationale of why the information will be valuable, how audiences might use the information, and for what purpose.

Tags: Birds, Mammals

Absolutely. The RFP is not limited to Lepidotpera and applicants can make the case for any pollinators species – insects, birds, mammals, etc.. We mention butterflies and bees for their ‘charismatic’ nature or well-understood connection to agriculture.  Yes, we would include Sphingidae (hawk moths), Noctuidae (owlet moths), Erebidae (erebid moths), Geometridae (geometer moths), Tortricidae (leafroller moths), Pyralidae (snout/grass moths), Hesperiidae (skippers) and Papilionoidea (common butterflies). Please note our current grants in Pollinators that could relate to this work.

We are interested in technology platforms and methods for data collection that can be deployed at large geographic scale, are low cost, and can be used by field staff with relatively little formal training or expertise.  Such methods sometimes fall under the category of “citizen science” and employ mobile technologies, distributed teams of experts,”para-taxonomists”, community review, or other methods to generate high-quality data and data that can be collected and shared using global data standards.  Platforms used by JRS Biodiversity Foundation grantees include – but are not limited to – Cybertracker, iNaturalist, and SMART.  The geographic scale, threats to biodiversity, the rate of biodiversity change, and knowledge gaps are so great on the African continent that a meaningful coverage of biodiversity data cannot be obtained at the funding, speed, and expertise levels available in some other parts of the world.  Just as the African continent leap-frogged the need for hard-wired telephone service, a similar technical leap is needed for biodiversity data collection and access.

No.  We are sorry that we do not support direct development activities such as bee-keeping, tree-planting, agricultural training, women’s livelihood development, participatory environmental planning, education and other direct development interventions.  We appreciate that grass-roots participation, community stewardship of biodiversity, and sustainable livelihoods are key to conservation but these are not within our scope.  Our narrow focus is financial support for the information technologies that support conservation such as data collection, database development, mobile applications, websites, field data collection and related capacity development activities.

This is a very good point.  As we pursue this program in pollinator biodiversity we may discover that we underestimated the taxonomic gaps and that our greater investment in the primary taxonomy is essential.  Our foundation’s goal is to help countries develop the capacity for biodiversity informatics.  Pollinator knowledge is important in its own right and it may be a sustaining driver of capacity development in biodiversity data systems because of economic and conservation interests in pollination and their use as indicators of climate change.  This is really a matter of degree.  A project that is entirely focused on resolving the taxonomic detail of a complex of subspecies in an apparently economically unimportant species, is not of interest.  However, a project that included some taxonomic clarification and/or digitization of collections as a component of other goals related to knowledge creation and global access, could easily be in scope.  We have a lot of experience is seeing how fast that biodiversity informatics capacity in Africa can degrade without sustained demand for that capacity and we are trying to bridge the gap between data providers and users.

IAS are not mentioned in the call as a specific interest but certainly would be in scope if there is an argument for the value of the data and there is a clear use and user.  Invasive alien species may fall within the freshwater or pollinators program. Given the multiple efforts to create IAS data resources, we’d have to understand why a new one is better designed for success that is relevant to users. Our experience is that projects without specific users being involved and a use case being the driver are not sustained in the long-term.

Yes, we fund primary data collection. We need to understand how that data supports the users’ needs and fosters the development of the related biodiversity information system.  We often fund primary data collection when it fits within a full concept such as the new data collection helps to develop capacity in the full pathway from the field to data access and use, or develops some particularly valuable data sets, or answers a conservation science or ecological question. It is just a matter of balance between resources spent on data collection and resources spent on data access. Whereas there are other funders that support data collection, we are the only funder focused on biodiversity-related information technology and its use.

Budgets (14)

We have funded projects as short as 9 months and as long as 48 months.  A most typical timeline is 24-36 months.  We would love to see more short, sharp, and focused projects to develop information technology tools in 12-18 months. What is most important is that you choose a time that is right for your success.  The longer a project, the more uncertain it becomes in the later months and the more expensive it becomes.  Biodiversity data and information systems can be developed relatively quickly and success is usually readily apparent in terms of online data and tools.  Regardless of the length of your project, it is important to show intermediate milestones that mark progress and success throughout the course of the project.  Since we seek projects that connect data and knowledge to users, we look for projects that address clear and present needs for knowledge and prefer those over projects that might promise that if tools are developed in the future, they will solve problems in the future.

These are important components of any project and there is no maximum budget that we define.  Please just make the best design for your success and justify the budget.  We want to know what you believe is best to achieve your goals.  Sometimes, it can help to organize and communicate your plans by having one objective called “Project Management” to show those activities and to be able to identify the associated expenses.  Sometimes project director’s salaries may be covered by institutional sources, in whole or in part, so please indicate any “co-funding” of this nature so we understand your budgets.

The range for co-funding projects is the same as technical grant projects: $15,000 – $300,000.

The total budget is the sum of the direct costs and the indirect costs for your proposed project. Direct costs should represent all activities and personnel salaries to carry out your project. Indirect costs are the overhead and institutional rates associated with administering your project. Calculate the indirect costs based on a percentage of the total direct costs ([Direct costs] X [% indirect cost rate]). Please see below the short statement of our indirect cost policy:

  • Up to 15% rate: Non-Profits and Educational Institutions are eligible for up to 15% of indirect costs.
  • Up to 10% rate: Government agencies of African countries.
  • 0% rate: Government agencies of OECD countries and for-profit organizations

Learn more about Indirect Cost Rate Policy on our Policy Page.

We will support any justifiable expense anywhere in the world connected to achieving a project’s goals.  Our goal is capacity development in Africa and we believe that is most likely to occur when funds, responsibility, and authority is transferred to or resides in Africa.  We support salaries, indirect costs, software, hardware, travel, meetings, etc.  Historically, we have not funded major capital items like vehicles and construction but we do fund local travel costs of vehicle travel.

No. There is no limit on the subcontractor amount. However, the higher the percentage of the budget, the more likely we are to ask to see the scope, work plans, and budgets of the subcontractors. Generally, we don’t ask to see that detail.  When subcontractors are more than 20% of the budget, we expect more detail and that their work and work-plans are well described in the proposal. At the point that a subcontractor is receiving more than 50% of the budget, we would certainly ask why are they not the grant recipient?

We are unlikely to fund projects less than $15,000 other than conference sponsorship due to the high costs of grant administration.  Regardless of the amount, please justify your spending so that we can evaluate the feasibility of your proposed project.

The maximum amount that we advise for an application budget is $250,000. The budget may exceed $250,000 if project plans and budgets clearly justify higher spending. However, consider the activities that are essential to ensuring your project’s success. It is far easier to add in elements over time as we review and refine your plans, rather than to cut project objectives. We are less likely to invest more than $300,000 in a single project. Since 2016, our average conference support grant is $15,000, our average Planning Grant is $35,000, and our average Technical Implementation Grant is $230,000.  We are a small funder and are happy to co-fund projects with other funders where JRS funds the information technology components of other conservation efforts.­­­

If your foreign collaborators are on your payroll, they would be budgeted under Personnel. If the foreign collaborators are paid through a subcontract to their institution, they are budgeted as Subcontractors.  Think of our job as reading your proposal and “connecting the dots” between the money your request, the activities you propose, and the results you plan.  Everything in the application should help us make that connection.  If a subcontract is a large percent of the budget – let’s say about 20%, you should explain the use of funds and you might show their budget detail as well.  The JRS Grant Agreement gives us the right to request the contract and financial reports of your subcontractors.

Yes and no.  We are a financial institution and we look closely at budgets and at the quality of budget narratives.  If partners are mentioned as doing significant work, we will look to understand whether funds flow to those partners.  Sometimes proposals can appear inconsistent in their stated emphasis vs. what appears in the budget.  Sometimes, grant applicants have funds from other funding sources or regular institutional funds.  Those in-kind or granted funds can be added to our editable budget template and to the budget narrative so we understand what supports the activities in the project.  Money does tell a story about the cost of activities, their relative timing in the project, and the depth of planning that stands behind a project budget.  You may notice that the budget section of our proposal is the only section without a word limit as we welcome thorough explanations of costs and of uncertainties about costs.  Successful grant applications often present the budget in multiple ways. For example the budget may be explained by cost categories as well as by timed phases, project objectives, or by partners.

Yes. Project budgets may include travel to foreign conferences or the travel of partners to or from Africa.  Project budgets are the choice of the applicant and your budgets should reflect your plans and priorities.  Foreign travel can be quite expensive so the value to the project should be high.

True, and that is a good observation. We ask you to distinguish the total project costs from JRS’ contributions. This is important to help us understand the resources that will support your success.  Our budget form does not include lines for those contributions.  Generally, applicants use the Budget Narrative section to describe any co-funding or institutional matches of funding; that section has no Word Limit.  Our budget spreadsheet can be modified and edited and many applicants have added lines for other funding or added tabs to the spreadsheet.  Please do what you think is best to help us understand how funds connect to resources, outputs, and outcomes.  If we need additional detail on co-funding, we will ask.

I’d say that whether a proposal advances to the final tier of consideration is really determined by the big things and not by the details though its is understandable that grant applicants worry about the details. Applications advance for the big things: (1) is it in scope? (2) does it develop biodiversity informatics capacity? (3) is data accessible and valuable to end-users? and (4) is it well planned?  By well planned, we look for whether the inputs of staffing, time, expertise, partnerships, technology, and money can be connected to specific outputs and results, and whether those activities and outputs fit into a logical causal change of valuable outcomes.  Virtually all proposals represent good ideas and intentions but most declined proposals fail for lack of focus, being too ambitious, claiming unlikely outcomes, unclear plans, weak informatics detail, and lack of end-user engagement.  Proposals need a strong budget narrative that explains the costs, their timing, and connections to goals – we are a financial institution and money matters really matter! We encourage you to plan your project before beginning the application form.

JRS is unlikely to change our Indirect Cost Policy for a government institution but we also make decisions on a case-by-case basis.  One alternative is to take costs that your institution wishes to recover in the indirect cost rate such as facilities costs and financial administration and put those as direct costs in the budget and note that in your budget narrative.  Our decision whether to fund a project will be determined by many other factors other than indirect cost rates.  We suggest that you apply as is consistent with your institutional policy with the forewarning that JRS may decline that indirect rate or ask you to put those costs as direct costs.

Co-funding Grants (4)

The range for co-funding projects is the same as technical grant projects: $15,000 – $300,000.

No. JRS has a program in Capacity Development.  Your co-funding proposal could ask JRS to add biodiversity information components to projects related to terrestrial ecosystem projects.  We’d look for the development of biodiversity informatics capacity that helps to develop the local capacity for biodiversity data and knowledge sharing.

Tag: donors

JRS is happy to be a follow-on funder or a minor partner to a larger project where we add the funding of components like databases, hardware, software, and data visualization tools.  Our co-funding is likely to be a smaller amount than we’d give for a full technical project but may have a great impact by adding information technologies and tools to the work of your partnership or project.  When partnerships collect and share data in a common platform it can increase the impact and be part of the ‘glue’ that holds the partnership together.  Co-funding proposals must describe the current project and the use of JRS funds.

For more information, please read our blog post about co-funding proposals.

Tag: donors

Co-funding is when JRS is a co-funder of a project for which you already have funding and JRS adds the information systems component. For example, let’s say you have a grant for a partnership of NGOs or a partnership of NGOs and government agencies to do a conservation project but the donor did not invest in databases, mobile tools, or knowledge platforms.  JRS might join that effort and fund a new set of activities for the information system.  A good example is when JRS funded the Healthy Reefs initiative in the Meso-American reef: https://jrsbiodiversity.org/grants/mesoamerican-reef-fund-2014/ .   JRS joined a large number of larger donors who were already funding the project. JRS provided funding to bring all the reef monitoring partners to use a common database and reporting tool that greatly accelerated their work.

For more information about how we can be a co-funder for your project,  please read our blog post about co-funding proposals.

Tag: donors

Geographic Scope (6)

We will support any project design that is justified for the project’s success and impact.  Multi-country projects often have great potential for the transfer of know-how and technology. However, multi-country projects also entail greater complexity and may dilute funds across many partners.  There is no rule.  You’ll see many different models in our grant portfolio.  It is fairly rare that all the expertise for a project is found within one single country. It is more common that there are partners with specific expertise in other countries who are part of project implementation in different roles.

Yes.  We focus our investment for technical projects in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, and Malawi.  However, if a project includes another African country and there is a strong rationale for its inclusion, we will consider that project.  One successful approach that we’ve seen in applications is to propose additional countries and their added cost and benefit to the proposal.

Yes, we welcome multi-country projects.  Managing and implementing international projects can add cost and complexity and can also greatly increase your impact and the expertise of the project team. As with any aspect of project design, the application should present a strong rationale for the approach.

Yes.  We will prefer projects centered in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Botswana, and South Africa.  Some work and partners or collaborators may be based in other countries.  Projects that focus primarily on Capacity Development for biodiversity informatics may be broader in scope or based in other countries, providing there is reach into or participation from our focal countries.  If projects are centered in one of our focal countries they may have collaborators and some work in other African countries. Please write to JRS if you have questions about the geographic scope of your work.

We have no preference, design projects for success. Like any donor, we want the most impact for our dollar. An excellent site-specific project that yields transferable technology, skills, success and lessons may have a greater impact over the long-term than a national scale project.  Any regional project proposal would need to cite how it compares to any other regional biodiversity informatics projects that have (or have not) resulted in a strong residual national or local capacity. JRS might be at our best when we invest in capacity at the individual or network level.  We don’t have the staff, resources and on-the-ground presence to add significant value to most regional efforts.  However, we know that international NGOs might have regional organizations that can be effective at transferring technology and methods among country-based programs. Our advice is always that you should, propose what will be most successful since you are the experts in your domains and your countries.  We have no principle of equitable funding across countries – just the pursuit of results.

Please see the Where We Work page on JRS’ website.   We are funding technical projects this year in East Africa in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda and in Central and Southern Africa in Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa.  We will consider technical projects in freshwater or pollinator biodiversity outside of these seven countries that:

  1. Have an exceptional potential impact on accessible biodiversity data and knowledge;
  2. Have an exceptional potential impact on the use of biodiversity data and knowledge for conservation and sustainability development; or
  3. Have an exceptional potential impact on the development of methods, tools, platforms, or software that can be transferred and applied to other contexts.

We encourage applicants from outside of the above seven focal countries to send a short project description for our review.

We will fund biodiversity informatics Capacity Development projects in other countries, particularly if they welcome participants from outside of the host country or that have a reach that overlaps the seven focal countries mentioned above.

!New this week! (8)

No! We do not require supporting letters from your institution or partners or documentation such as past publications, plans, terms of subcontracts, photos and maps, CVs, or letters of collaboration.  These may be requested at future stages but we do not consider them now and will not include any such documents in our first stages of review.  Please do not send supporting documents.

We are sorry to hear you are having trouble.  Here are some possible issues:

  1. If your internet connection is unstable, you may have lost connection with the server.  If you have entered text in the application, the best strategy is to select all the text in the browser and paste it as plain text into a document. That will let you rescue the text after you reconnect.
  2. You may have lost connection with the server and are seeing cached content.  If you have entered text in the application, the best strategy is to select all the text in the browser and paste it as plain text into a document so you can rescue your work. Then, clear the history and cache from your browser and reconnect to the portal. Or, switch to a different browser.
  3. Sometimes, the application will not allow you to save or submit if associated information is not saved.  We recommend exiting the application form and going to your ‘landing screen.’  Make sure your Applicant Profile is complete and saved.  Open your application to where it says “Add Contacts” and be sure that any contacts are complete and saved.  Now, reopen the application form and try to save and submit.
  4. You may be having trouble saving because you have exceeded the word count for a question.  Scroll through the application and look at the Word Count numbers in the lower right corner of the form fields.  Shorten any answers that exceed the limit.
  5. You may have not completed a required field at the top of the application in the A. Proposal Information section or you may have entered a value in the wrong format. Those fields will indicate if there was an error.

We hope this helps.  Our guidance is to be sure all associated forms for the Applicant Profile and Contacts are complete and saved and that you check fields for absent values or too many words.  If trouble persists, you may wish to clear your browser history and cache or to use a different browser.

Yes, it is possible that the Project Director is from a partner organization. We really back our Project Director’s 100% and we give them a lot of authority to adapt and change budgets and plans. Make a good case in your proposal why it is best to have the Project Director come from a partner organization.  The home institution of the Project Director is not an issue that would make or break an application. If the application progresses, you could expect some questions about how authority is structured. E.g., what if the Project Director wants to move more funds out of the lead organization and to her/his organization? Does the Project Director have both the responsibility and the authority to success if they are based at the partner organization?

We have funded projects as short as 9 months and as long as 48 months.  A most typical timeline is 24-36 months.  We would love to see more short, sharp, and focused projects to develop information technology tools in 12-18 months. What is most important is that you choose a time that is right for your success.  The longer a project, the more uncertain it becomes in the later months and the more expensive it becomes.  Biodiversity data and information systems can be developed relatively quickly and success is usually readily apparent in terms of online data and tools.  Regardless of the length of your project, it is important to show intermediate milestones that mark progress and success throughout the course of the project.  Since we seek projects that connect data and knowledge to users, we look for projects that address clear and present needs for knowledge and prefer those over projects that might promise that if tools are developed in the future, they will solve problems in the future.

These are important components of any project and there is no maximum budget that we define.  Please just make the best design for your success and justify the budget.  We want to know what you believe is best to achieve your goals.  Sometimes, it can help to organize and communicate your plans by having one objective called “Project Management” to show those activities and to be able to identify the associated expenses.  Sometimes project director’s salaries may be covered by institutional sources, in whole or in part, so please indicate any “co-funding” of this nature so we understand your budgets.

The range for co-funding projects is the same as technical grant projects: $15,000 – $300,000.

The total budget is the sum of the direct costs and the indirect costs for your proposed project. Direct costs should represent all activities and personnel salaries to carry out your project. Indirect costs are the overhead and institutional rates associated with administering your project. Calculate the indirect costs based on a percentage of the total direct costs ([Direct costs] X [% indirect cost rate]). Please see below the short statement of our indirect cost policy:

  • Up to 15% rate: Non-Profits and Educational Institutions are eligible for up to 15% of indirect costs.
  • Up to 10% rate: Government agencies of African countries.
  • 0% rate: Government agencies of OECD countries and for-profit organizations

Learn more about Indirect Cost Rate Policy on our Policy Page.

No. We do not provide general operating support.  Our interest is data and information systems.  Something that is in scope might be if there was a network of field stations and a data system could create access to biodiversity data and great value from past and future data.

Planning Grants (5)

Please use the same online application form and adapt it as best as possible for the planning grant. Please see other FAQs in this section.  We fund planning efforts based on the potential value of the ultimate project being planned.  A planning grant should make the case for the ultimate outputs and outcomes and clearly define what questions, uncertainties, and risks are being addressed by the planning phase.

Category: Planning Grants

Planning grants are used when there is too much uncertainty or too many unknowns to produce a strong project plan in a proposal.  A planning grant should pursue specific questions and unknowns, perhaps be guided by a decision tree, and even lead to a go/no-go decisions on specific elements.  If you are exploring a risky idea, the planning phase might result in your decision not to pursue the idea.  If your project just needs a start-up phase for planning but you know your aims and partners, you might just include that start-up phase within your project proposal. The planning proposal should define the critical questions and unknowns and then show how the proposed activities close those gaps.

We fund planning grants that have some concept and description of the end result AND if that end product is within our strategy and our financial means.  There should be strong hypotheses about the end product and its cost. For example, we would not fund a planning effort to design a $10,000,000 regional project since we couldn’t fund that expensive implementation phase.

Finally, we encourage all our planning efforts to develop a mindset that the final product is first a project plan and only then a grant proposal.  Most planning grants are first presented with too much time and effort in convening and workshops and not enough time and money spent on planning. A grant proposal is a way to sell a project plan to JRS, but the strength of that proposal will be rooted in the strength of the underlying project plan.

Category: Planning Grants

Most planning grants have been in the $15,000-$30,000 range and have been as high as $65,000. It depends on whether you seek 4 months or 8 months of support. The planning grant award may not cover all planning costs, but those costs above and beyond your usual efforts at planning and fund-raising.  Typically, funds are used to assess needs, convene partners for planning, hire consultants with specific technical expertise, and travel to partners.  If the planning phase produced an output that was a public good – e.g., proceedings and analyses from the planning workshops, we might fund at the higher end of the range since there is a public benefit and tangible output.

Category: Planning Grants

A planning grant may be  your best approach if there are critical gaps in areas that the JRS Biodiversity Foundation has identified as critically important. For example, you may need a planning grant if (1) you do not know who your partners will be, (2) you do not have a partnership with the end-users of the data or knowledge tool, (3) you do not yet know what hardware and software technology you might employ, or (4) this is your first project in pollinator or freshwater biodiversity.  Even in a technical implementation project, you may schedule for a “ramp up” period for planning and formal partnership agreements.

Category: Planning Grants

Yes. Please use the same online form for your planning grant idea.  Some of the questions may not quite fit the planning grant but do your best.  For example, the question on data access may not apply to a planning grant but you might comment on whether the project you are planning will promote open access to data. We fund planning grants when there are critical uncertainties and steps to accomplish to decide whether and how to implement the full project. The vision of the full project that results from the planning grant must be specific enough and compelling enough to support the planning.

Category: Planning Grants

Load More


RFP Question Form

Please enter your question below. You will receive an email confirmation and a direct reply. Your question will be added to the FAQ above within 48 hours.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Which are your primary communications interest?