Since we moved the DFID website to GOV.UK last year, we have been keen to improve the user experience for people looking for funding for international development work. I’m really pleased to unveil the new funding finder which I hope will make the process simpler, clearer and faster.
We’ve known from our web visitor statistics and our usability testing over the past few years that this is the most visited area of the DFID website, along with the job vacancies page. Our user base is quite varied, ranging from funding experts in large NGOs who visit our website daily, to individuals running small charities or faith groups looking for relatively modest amounts of funding. We know that MPs are often asked by their constituents where they can look for funding.
In our research, we looked at similar tools, such as those already built on GOV.UK, and at other funding finder websites, for example the Big Lottery Fund, which is impressive and easy to use. Our requirements for the finder included the ability to filter by country or countries, sector (such as health, education, humanitarian), which organisations are eligible to apply, and how much funding is available. A team at the Government Digital Service (GDS) built the finder for us so that it works in the same way as the other finder tools on GOV.UK and is integrated into the site search.
The next step was to review and edit all the information about DFID funds and get it up to date, in a consistent layout, and written in plain English (not development-speak!). We’re keeping the information about each fund brief and so it’s easy to compare funds. If you need more detailed information, there’s either full documentation attached or a link to another website to apply.
It’s important to our web visitors to know whether the fund is open or closed. Open means either the fund is currently open for applications, or it has given out funds and it is expected that further funding rounds will open. Closed means that the fund has awarded money but there are no plans for any further funding rounds, so the fund has finished.
We have built a notification at the top of some of the fund pages to alert people to key dates (such as deadlines) to help them in their planning. One feature we would like to add is an email notification so people can sign up to receive an email when new funds are added, or new funding windows are open.
As this is the first version of the funding finder, both DFID and GDS are keen to receive feedback and suggestions for changes or improvements. Please use the ‘contact’ button at the foot of each web page and tell us what you like or dislike, and we look forward to hearing your comments.