Firstly, it's worth keeping in mind that the evolution of the international development sector has resulted in more funding being directed to multi-sectoral projects than ever before. This has meant that sometimes it's more challenging to get business alert results that are 100% accurate to your interests. But with a bit of tweaking you can make them work well for you.
Here are some tips to help you along the way:
1. Avoid long strings of general keywords
For example if you are interested in funding opportunities related to education around gender equality, and also health related to youth or children you may type in education gender equality youth health systems young people and leave the funder and location filter open. It's likely you will receive many irrelevant opportunities that include these words, as they are common for many different types of funding opportunities.
What we recommend to people is to set-up separate business alerts on each particular topic so that they can review the results and refine them. So for example if you are interested in these topics, you could set-up two different alerts:
- education AND "gender equality" - note the use of quotation marks to avoid the words equality and gender being searched for separately
- health AND (youth child*) - note 1. the space between youth and child means it's searching for either youth or child. 2. Parenthesis are necessary to define it as a statement. 3. The * means it will search for all words with this root (children, child).
This article gives you a list of Boolean search term combinations that can help.
2. Exclude certain terms from your search results using AND NOT
For example if opportunities related to construction continue to appear within your results exclude all of these by typing AND NOT construction, i.e. health AND NOT construction.
3. Think like a funder
Use the terms that funders use to describe the topic you're interested in and test them by watching how the number of results changes as you add or remove keywords.
4. Start with your existing experience, visualize your results to identify other related opportunities.
If you are part of a smaller organization that has worked in one particular region, or with one donor before, it's worth starting by basing your search/business alert on this experience. Given that you may have a strong network there, know the funder and how projects work in this space you will have a better chance of expanding there to start with.
So if you input relevant keyword(s) and then specify this region, or funder, to then visualize the results you can see the other funders that have worked on that topic in the region, or if you have selected the funder you will see the other regions they have disbursed funding for similar projects.
See search below based on the idea that you are open to new funding opportunities across the world but you have experience working with partner organizations that have experience in West Africa.
Likewise, if you have experience working with a particular funder on a topic, you can quickly see the top ten regions they are directing their funding to this way. This then allows you to focus your business alert on these areas or funders, whilst also being able to create another business alert based on all regions and funders.
You can also choose to receive the alert once a week rather than daily so that you're not overwhelmed with too many results each day.