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Advice from previous recipients


Some of our previous funding recipients share their advice on developing your application and on reporting from the developing world.


Look for an angle rarely covered in Irish news.

“Try to focus on issues or locations that are rarely covered in the news. Or examine fresh angles on current news stories. The ability to have contributors with a vast knowledge of your subject, as well as hearing relevant personal stories is usually an advantage in any report. Try to find a topic that could have a resonance to an Irish audience and make sure your project is something you are passionate about.

RTÉ reporter and Storyful Senior News Journalist, Della Kilroy travelled to Jordan with the support of the Fund to examine what life is like for unaccompanied and undocumented Iraqi and Syrian minors living in Jordan. Fund out more.


Don’t neglect the ‘big picture’.

Finding a quirky and important story that will engage you and the readers is fundamental to win the grant. However, if you are able to back the importance of this issue with numbers and justify why it deserves more attention, your project will be much more likely to secure funding. In your application, make sure you use numbers, reliable data or authoritative facts whenever necessary. This will also prevent you from turning up to a country to report, only to realise that there isn’t really a story to be told. Numbers don’t lie, although they don’t tell the entire story.”

Didem Tali is a freelance journalist. She received funding to report on illegal logging in Peru and its impact on the Asháninka. Her project was published in the Irish Times. Find out more.


Pick an issue you’re passionate about.

The main advice I would have for people applying is to choose something that they are really interested in. It has to matter to you. One of my SCMF projects was about child refugees in Turkey and how they were dealing with the impact of war – it’s an issue I still feel strongly about and I think that passion really made a big difference to the reports I produced. I’m really excited about my next Simon Cumbers trip – again to look at the issue of enforced migration (this time in Mexico) and it makes such a difference when you are so engaged with your subject. We all have different interests and it’s about finding an issue that you can’t wait to tell people about.

RTÉ Deputy Foreign Editor, Eimear Lowe was supported through the winter 2015 round of the Fund to travel to Turkey to report on the stolen childhoods of Syrian refugees. Find out more.


Research the figures for your budget thoroughly.

Be creative when looking for fixers and translators. I found my translator through a guide, and she cost much less than the prices I had been quoted by professional translators. She was also much more flexible with her time and about overnight visits. Universities can be a good resource for this. “

Michael Sheils McNamee is a journalist with the Belfast Telegraph. He travelled to Nicaragua to report on the emergence of women in the workplace and in public life in a country where machismo attitudes are still a major force in society. His project was published by Find out more.


Don’t forget to call.

A phone number is far and away the best method of getting in touch with people in the developing world. Unless you’re contacting a big Western NGO, and sometimes even then, emails tend to disappear into the ether. Information is also difficult to find online. However, just because there’s no website, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a thriving business – they’re just offline.”

Cian Kearns is a freelance journalist. He travelled to Sierra Leone with the support of the Fund to produce a radio documentary for Limerick’s Live 95FM examining firsthand what micro-financing means to the people of the region. Find out more.



Pack carefully – think about the ‘essentials’ for travelling to the developing world.

If you are travelling abroad you need to have really good equipment with you. For a broadcast piece, I would recommend the Zoom H6 which has a number of mics and you can record things from a variety of perspectives. Don’t forget batteries. There’s nothing worse than arriving out in the middle of nowhere and realising you don’t have batteries. On a more general level, one of the things I would recommend to bring is a torch, especially if you are going to a country that is near the equator. Sunlight disappears very quickly and street light may not be great.”

Deirdre Donnelly is a freelance journalist. She received funding to travel to Ethiopia to look at how Irish support is helping those with disabilities in the developing world.  Her radio documentary was broadcast on Newstalk. Find out more.