Appendix I: IFF Concept Note Guide

Relevant information around submitting a concept note to the Internet Freedom Fund.

Project Title

This project name can be changed if a full proposal is requested.

Describe your project in 1-3 sentences.

This will help us review your application. Briefly mention the problem being addressed and the expected outcome.

This will help us to review your application. Briefly mention the problem being addressed and the expected outcome. You could use a sentence like “Our project idea is to do [x...] in order to address the challenge [y...]. The main beneficiaries of this project are [z…]” or any other format that best captures the project.

What problem will your project address?

Describe the problem that exists. What change is needed? How will your project contribute to solving this problem?

For this question, we are trying to understand what problem or situation your project is addressing. We are looking for answers that are concise, well-informed, and fall within OTF’s mission and areas of focus. This means they should focus on people and communities who are facing repressive surveillance, censorship or other forms of digital repression.

A good way of breaking this down would be to start with a current overview of the overall environment in the region or community that would benefit from the work. What specific problems exist there, what is the cause of these problems or who is behind them? What are the consequences of the problem on the beneficiaries of your project?

You should describe the current situation as if you are explaining it to someone not familiar with the context at all. You should also point to news reporting, research and other forms of documentation when relevant. If documentation is not available, feel free to describe how you came across this knowledge of the problem in your own words.

Additional information you can provide here is how addressing the problem will further the field’s understanding of the topic, what will happen if the problem goes unaddressed, and the wider relevance of the problem, for example, does the problem exist in other contexts?

If this project is funded, what form will it take?

Choosing the one that fits the best. Will the output be a research report? An app? Digital security support? A community gathering?

Please choose the category that best fits your project idea. If your project contains elements from multiple categories, choose the one you think represents the main purpose of the project.

Under “Technical Development” we support the development of innovative, viable and open Internet freedom technology prototypes, as well as improvements, tool development, and core infrastructure that serve the Internet freedom and human rights communities.

Under “Applied Research” we support efforts that may track how, why, or where censorship is happening, study specific Internet freedom tools and ways to improve them, advance understanding around what types of content censors target, or concentrate on assessing threats to Internet freedom in a specific geographic context.

Under “Digital Security” we support efforts that provide new or deeper insights into the challenges of front-line communities or enhance the resilience of targeted communities against digital attacks through digital security training and capacity building initiatives.

Under “Community Convenings” we support targeted research and development gatherings or Community organized events to identify needs, share resources, and strategize solutions to censorship, surveillance and digital security issues.

Each category has an associated proposal form with additional category-specific questions designed to help us to better evaluate your project. Upon review by the OTF team, we may elect to move your project to a different category if we think it’s a better fit. This will not be considered against your concept note during our evaluation.

You can learn more about the different types of applications on our website.

OTF does not support projects working on Internet connectivity, Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), legal analysis or policy advocacy. Read more about our common ineligible areas of focus.

Give a brief overview of the activities in this project.

Briefly list key milestones and activities you will carry out. Please provide a list of project activities that you plan to conduct during the funding period, grouped under your project’s objectives. Project objectives describe what you plan to achieve by the end of the project. Well-written project objectives are specific, attainable, and time-bound. You also might be asked in the proposal stage on how you measure and evaluate progress towards those objectives, so while you don’t need to include that information here, it’s an important consideration to have.

Project activities are the individual tasks that your project will undertake to achieve each objective. These activities may be paired with certain outcomes, or deliverables. It’s important for us to understand as well who will be carrying out each task. You can also include a narrative description in your own words of each activity. We welcome diverse forms of storytelling to help us understand your work.

Depending on the size and complexity of your project, you can choose how much you want to break those activities down, as long as the description provides a good overview of what types of activities will be carried out. You may be asked to provide further detail at the proposal stage. You may optionally include a timeline of when the activities will occur relative to the start date of your project, or if there are important time considerations (such as upcoming elections, events, etc.) associated with those activities.

Here are two examples that you can use to respond to this question. Please note that this is intended to be a suggestion from us, we don’t expect you to use this format and we understand that there are different ways to plan and explain a project’s activities.

--- Objective 1: Prototype Development - in this objective we plan to create the first running prototype that is ready for testing.

Activity 1.1: Update and rewrite existing code base Activity 1.2: Further developments to create a first prototype.

Deliverable 1: Prototype is ready for testing Estimated Time: 20 days ---

Or it could look like this:

Objective 1: We are planning to create the first working prototype of the application that can be used for testing. For that, we need to revisit the code and implement a number of feature requests from our forum.

Objective 2: In the second objective, we plan on testing the prototype to gather feedback from selected users.

Are there similar projects that exist already? How is your project different or complementary to those projects?

What gaps does your project address? Does your project build on these projects? If so, how? Is there opportunity for collaboration? Provide web links if available.

We want to learn how this project is situated in the larger context. Please explain how this project is complementary to existing work, or how it fills a gap. We also want to learn whether your project leverages existing resources. Is there an opportunity for collaboration with other actors in the field? You can provide links to websites, repositories and articles to support your response.

How long do you estimate activities will take?

This estimate may be revised if a full proposal is requested.

We are looking for a rough estimate of the funding period. If you are invited to make a full funding proposal, the length will be reviewed and might be revised.

How much funding do you estimate you will need? (In US Dollars)

This estimate may be revised if a full proposal is requested.

We are looking for a rough estimate of the funding amount. If you are invited to make a full funding proposal, the total amount will be reviewed and might be revised.

Who would benefit from this project?

Tell us about the people who will use this project? How is it relevant to them? Who will attend the event?

Our goal is to support efforts that aim to advance Internet Freedom in the world’s most repressive environments. Ideally, we would support projects that are directly benefiting people living in these environments. We also want to support organizations or individuals that are themselves affected by or have direct experience with repressive censorship and surveillance.

Please explain how this project helps people in repressive environments, by describing the intended users or audiences. Please be specific! Ideally, you can demonstrate clearly how you know about the needs of your intended audience/users, e.g. by having done user research or by having direct connections to them. Saying your project “benefits everyone” is not an accepted answer.

For events, please specify who are the people you are seeking support to bring to the events/gatherings, and how they would contribute to the conversation and the goal. Please also highlight how the event includes people who are underrepresented in the internet freedom community.

Where are your intended users, or audiences located?

We want to understand where our efforts are focused and whether there are significant gaps. If we use this for external facing reports, we will make sure to disassociate this with you, your project or your organization.

Since OTF began requesting information around the geographic focus of an application, a custom set of regions was relied on. The application form is transitioning away from this custom implementation in favor of a regional breakdown that is more widely established. We selected the regions relied on by the United Nations Statistics Division in its publications and databases. This page provides a breakdown of countries in each region. Some regions did not allow for a direct conversion. In these instances, such as converting one category (Middle East & North Africa) into three (Northern Africa, Western Asia and Southern Asia), an assessment of each application was performed manually and adjusted accordingly.

What is your name?

We use this name when we communicate with you about your proposal. You can use your name, a pseudonym, a nickname, or the name of the project or effort you’re applying for funding for. This field will be autopopulated with your existing name if you are logged into the platform. You could change your name if you use the edit button directly on the application.

What email address should we use to contact you?

This email will be used to communicate with you about your application. Please make sure the email is valid, for both the application and potentially for the funding period.

Why are you, and your team members, the right people to work on this project?

Describe your relevant expertise, knowledge, your past work.

Use this space to show us that you know how to do this work. We know that experience comes in many forms, it can be formal or informal. You can describe your previous work, link to relevant past projects, or explain other forms of knowledge of the subject matter. We are also interested in learning about your experience in working with users described. Have you worked with them before, how are you connected? Do you consider yourself part of the target audience? Ideally, you can also describe your connections to partners and other relevant actors in the field.

What is your proposed start date for this project?

This question is only applicable to community convenings or gatherings. The start date for this event must be at least 90 days after the application has been submitted.

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