Increasingly, donors are interested in ensuring that people with disabilities are included in their programming. The following are tips to help donors and investors invest in good disability inclusive projects.
Develop a policy and strategy: Donor and government bodies should ensure that they have clear-cut policy and strategy on disability inclusion, which promotes dignity and increased quality of life for persons with disabilities. There are two main types of funding for disability inclusion: funds specifically set up to advance disability rights, and funding streams that mainstream disability inclusion as a crosscutting issue for all types of projects and programming.
Use existing financial resources: donors do not need to create a new stream of funding to support disability rights programming. Instead, donors can examine how their current funding or investment reaches and includes persons with disabilities. This typically requires strong monitoring & evaluation systems that disaggregate data by disability.
Disability disaggregated data: donors should use the Washington Group questions to disaggregate monitoring & evaluation data under the grants they manage. More information on the Washington Group questions can be found here: http://www.washingtongroup-disability.com/
“Nothing about us without us” – funding disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) or organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs): there are so many barriers for DPOs or OPDs to receive donor funding. It is important that donors work to reduce fundraising barriers for organizations and practitioners at all levels, sizes, and sophistication, to improve access to financial resources for these underrepresented groups. Initial ideas could include:
- Create free resource guides on topics such as writing proposals, capacity building, donor networking, using technology and social media, etc.
- Create sustainable resources to work over a longer period of time with community based organizations e.g. DPOs and OPDs, and design tools to support organizational growth.
Considerations for designing and funding disability inclusive projects: donors and investors can proactively ensure their partners and investees are meeting a minimum standard when targeting persons with disabilities in their projects. The following points should be kept in mind when designing and selecting concept notes, requests for proposals, etc.:
- Project design: does the project have strong intervention to address the issues and specific needs of people with disabilities; either as the primary goal of the project or as a cross-cutting theme? Did the project look at the specific needs of persons with disabilities within the needs assessment?
- Operational accessibility: accessibility should be considered and implemented throughout all of the organization’s operations, with the goal of ensuring that the organizational infrastructure is built for all types of disabilities. This can include environmental accessibility, information accessibility, intentional policies and systems related to accessibility, and more.
- Inclusion of services: are the services being provided by those institutions are accessible or not? Does the organization or institution specifically outline this in their proposal?
- Budgeting for inclusion: are there specific budget lines for reasonable accommodation and accessibility? Are there budget justifications that reflect that the organization considered the specific needs of persons with disabilities throughout the project?
- Disability disaggregated data: typically, donors require a combination of qualitative and quantitative data to be reported when administering grants or contracts. Donors can mandate that all quantitative data collected is disaggregated by disability (e.g. using the Washington Group Questions) to gauge what percentage of people reached under the project have a disability. Further, donors can require that qualitative reporting highlight how the project met the specific needs of persons with disabilities.
- Previous experience on disability inclusion: previous experience implementing disability inclusive projects is important to consider when evaluating the potential quality of programming. Does the organization have a proven record on disability inclusive project or program implementation (at least 3-5 years)? Or are they partnering with an experienced organization that can build the non-specialist organization’s capacity on disability inclusive development throughout the project?
- Institutional/administrative accessibility: there are several indicators that donors can look for when evaluating the institutional or administrative accessibility of an organization. For example: do they have a disability inclusion policy? Is their HR and management structure intentionally disability inclusive? Does their budget reflect considerations for disability inclusion? Does the organization try to foster an internal culture of inclusion? Does the organization intentionally target persons with disabilities in their recruitment?
- Partnerships with DPOs / OPDs: where appropriate, has the project attempted to link and/or partner with local organizations of persons with disabilities? Are there specific budget lines dedicated to the work of these organizations under the project?
If you are a donor currently funding disability inclusive development projects, consider joining GLAD – the Global Action on Disability Network, a network of funders contributing to disability inclusive development and humanitarian action. More information can be found here: https://gladnetwork.net/.