Frequently Asked Questions


Q: Why is Global Integrity running an innovation fund?

A: We see a lack of risk-taking and experimentation across the community of practice (including in our own work) and are putting our money where our mouth is by attempting to encourage greater creativity when it comes to both diagnosing and addressing transparency and accountability challenges. Given the fund's strategy and the funding availability, we are not intending to achieve "change" through these projects but are instead focused solely on proof of concept ideas that validate or debunk a new method of addressing the challenges. 

 Q: What does Global Integrity mean by ideas of “Transparency & Accountability”?

A: For us, ideas that relate to transparency and accountability (T&A) address one or more of the following three categories. We will consider all ideas that propose methods, tools, etc. that seek to effectively do one or more of the following:

  • Illuminate areas of public interest or need that may be considered hidden, difficult to understand, or act upon otherwise. 
  • Ensure that parties responsible for the formation and implementation of laws or delivery of public services are held to account. 
  • Ensure that the recipient parties engage in shaping and/or implementing laws and/or delivery of services.

Q: What exactly is meant by “innovative ideas”? 

A: The way we see it, ‘innovative ideas’ are new ways of tackling shared challenges to bring about change. They may exist in the form of a product, service, tool, and/or method and they may leverage technology (but not necessarily). Innovative ideas have the ability to be what we like to call “disruptive” – they can positively alter what we know, and/or demonstrate what we may not know. Most importantly, these ideas do not repeat functioning models (e.g. indicator-based country governance assessments) or improve upon existing techniques (e.g. a "better" citizen’s budget; a "better" freedom of information awareness-raising campaign; a "better" service delivery monitoring effort). Check out examples of innovative ideas here and in this blog post.

Q: Who is funding the Innovation Fund? Where does the money come from? 

A: Global Integrity is a tax-exempt organization incorporated in the District of Columbia in the United States under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. We receive funding from a variety of philanthropic organizations. Funding for TESTING 1 2 3 is provided out of Global Integrity's core operating budget and is provided by any particular donor.

Q: How is Global Integrity spreading the word about the Innovation Fund?

A: In addition to asking our own friends and family networks to help us advertise, we are employing a handful of hyperconnected individuals or “Connectors” across the globe to tap into their own circles and communities of innovators to encourage the submission of ideas to the Fund. If you would like to help, print out this flyer and distribute it to your own innovator networks!


Q: How do I write a really good application?

A: Here are our top six tips for applying to our innovation fund:

  • Do your research – Your hypothesis should be grounded in a concrete understanding of what would work in theory and why, as well as what has worked or not in practice in the past.
  • Disruptive is key – We are not looking for ways of doing things that have already worked (or failed).  We won’t fund ideas that simply apply an existing model to a new context, but we will invest in a method that is a clear departure from what has been tried and has the potential to shake things up if it works.
  • Get inspired – Take a peek at some of the ideas that we consider ‘innovative.’  We are not asking you to duplicate these efforts - on the contrary, we want you to consider how these approaches, methods, and tools have been able to disrupt our usual thinking and then apply this lens to your own idea.
  • Consider the testing timeline – Propose an idea that can be tested quickly.  We want to invest in trials that take no more than two to six months. Why?  We believe that a lot can be learned in a short period of time, and lessons learned can fuel quick iteration - a recipe that we believe leads to success.
  • Convince us that you can do it – We need to know that you have the skills, know-how, motivation, and resources (given our capital) to test out your idea. Give us examples of your competencies to demonstrate to us that you are the right innovator to bet on.
  • Present an informed story – Perhaps of chief importance to us is the articulation of your Theory of Change.  We need to know that you have thought about your end goal, the steps required to reach it, and the assumptions that inform these processes that imply certain effects.

Q: Is there an entry fee to apply?

A: No.

Q: In what language should my response be written?

A: For administrative purposes, we can only accept submissions in English.  If you have specific requests related to this issue, please email

Can I submit two responses?

A: Yes, you may submit more than one application for different ideas.


Q: After submitting my idea online, when and how can I expect to hear from the Global Integrity team?

A: As soon as applications begin to roll in, we will be reviewing them and following up with questions on a case-by-case basis. We will notify you on our decision to take your idea to the next round in early 2013. Our final announcement of ideas that we are investing in will be in February/March 2013. 

Q: Will my responses to application questions be made public?

A: You will be asked to describe your idea in 50 to 100 words – this information will be moderated and made available for public discussion. Thereafter, you will be given the choice to make your application public or to keep it private. 


Q: If my idea is chosen to move to the final round, what is expected of me?

A: The final round will consist of ‘lightning-talk’ style interviews.  A lightning talk is a very short (~5 minute) presentation that offers you a chance to convey your idea in a ‘live’ setting.  It will provide you with the opportunity to present supplemental information that you may not have shared in the written/video application. As well, it gives us a space to ask questions that we may have to fill gaps in our own understanding.  We hope to use this time to push innovators beyond what they have already figured out; We want applicants to consider things that they hadn't thought of before - this will help us to better collectively assess how ideas would work in practice.


Q: How will my idea be selected for investment?

A: A small internal team at Global Integrity will be selecting ideas for investment. On an idea-by-idea basis, the internal team will be consulting external experts to provide feedback that will weigh into the decision making process. These experts will be chosen based on their (i) background, (ii) sector of expertise, and (iii) familiarity with challenges and context that the idea targets. 

Investment decisions will be based on the following evaluation methodology:

  • The idea deals with an issue of corruption, transparency and/or accountability.
  • The idea addresses a specific, identifiable problem.
  • The idea aims to diagnose and/or mitigate the target problem.
  • The idea has a clear Theory of Change.
  • The idea can be defined as Innovative & New.
  • The idea can be tested in 6 months or less.
  • The idea can be tested given ~10,000 USD.
  • The innovator (and team) is capable of testing his/her (their) idea.

Q: How do I know Global Integrity is not just going to take my idea and run with it?

A: The idea that you submit remains your idea after we invest in it.  Global Integrity will not be taking on intellectual property rights of ideas submitted and tested through the Innovation Fund.  

Q: How many ideas will Global Integrity be investing in and how much for each?

A: We seek to invest in 10 to 15 ideas, with up to 10,000 USD each. Global Integrity reserves all rights to makes exceptions towards the cap per idea.  We also reserve all rights to award as few as zero grants at our sole discretion.


Q: What is the timeline for implementation of my idea?

A: We are investing in ideas that can be tested in 2 to 6 months. Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Q: If my idea is accepted, what do I receive?

A: Up to 10,000 USD to test your idea out. We will also be scheduling calls for any guidance that you may desire along the way. Lastly, considering the outcomes of trials, we will help to introduce the ideas that work to more established funders. The aim in matchmaking is to ensure that the ideas that are ready to grow are connected to the resources that help them to do so. 

Q: If my idea is accepted, do I have to submit written progress reports?

A: No.  We do not require long written updates on progress. However, you will be required to speak with us once a month to share your experiences. You will also need to write up a final report following the testing period.

Q: If my idea is chosen for investment, how much of my proposed budget will be offered to me?

A: Winners will receive up to $10,000 (with the possibility of exceptions) to test their ideas. We will determine the exact amount we invest in each winning idea based on the following: i) Innovator’s proposed budget, ii) Global Integrity budget assessment, and iii) Available funds.

We will offer only what is essential to testing the idea.  This may include covering human capital, logistics, and technical expenses. We will not fund inputs that are required beyond the testing stage e.g. expenses related to growing or upscaling. In accepting the amount we determine to offer, innovators agree to test their idea in full as laid out in their application.

Q: If my idea is chosen, how will the funds be disbursed to me?

A: Disbursement of funds will vary on a case-by-case basis. We reserve the right to release the funds all at once or on a tiered basis depending on the nature and requirements of the idea. The specifics of our decision about disbursement cycle will be outlined in our initial offer to individual winners.


 Q: If my idea is chosen, how will the testing of it be monitored? 

A: Following our decision and announcement to invest in certain ideas, we will directly engage over-the-phone with selected innovators on a monthly basis. These phone calls will serve as a platform for innovators (throughout the 2-6 months of testing their ideas) to ask us any questions that they may have. We will act as a sounding board for innovators and provide guidance where and when it may be needed. Additionally, to take stock of progress made and yet to be made, we will be asking innovators for the following standard set of updates on each call: i) Summary of activities accomplished, ii) Challenges faced and overcome, iii) Challenges outstanding, and iv) Next steps.

Upon the completion of testing ideas, we will ask innovators to document their experiences, including: i) Process summary of the trial, ii) Lessons learned – accomplishments & challenges, iii) Results/Outputs - what worked, what failed (relate back to original theory of change), iv) Going Forward – goals for the future, next steps.

Q: If my idea is chosen, how will the testing of it be evaluated?

A: We plan to leverage our contributor network of over 1,200 researchers and journalists from across the globe to document trials immediately after each ends.  Contributors will focus on documenting how the ideas were intended to operate vis-a-vis how they operate in practice. As third parties, we expect our contributors to carry out objective documentation of trials.

 Q: What if my idea is a complete failure?

A: Embrace it! We believe that there is a lot of learning that can come from failures and as such, we wouldn't want to shy away from them. In fact, we expect investees to share their reflections on what worked and what didn't publically.

Although we hope to see some successes, we are also aware that not everything will yield the same results. However,  we do expect to document and learn from all testing experiences (those that work and those that don't) and share this with the greater transparency and accountability community.

Q: What if my idea is a huge success?

A: Great! We hope to engage with you at that time to see how we can assist in taking your idea even further.