Humanitarian Bazaar | FOCUS: Developing Projects & Writing Grants
Humanitarian Bazaar produces projects focused on how peope survive war and disaster.
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Photo: Women discuss how to improve legal aid for their community in Herat, Afghanistan. Daniel J Gerstle.


We offer here perhaps the most universally useful skill training, how to develop projects, proposals, and find support for those projects. Our examples include a range from how international aid agencies coordinate teams to produce large-scale humanitarian project proposals to how filmmakers shape their pre-production to build support for their films. Such skills can also be useful in starting a new business or starting a thesis. Choose your mode and price, and let us know at

Choose your mode and price ===>

A. Online Rapid Course Webinar

$40 = Webinar (2 hours) |  $80 = Webinar+ (2 hrs plus personal call with instructor for personal consultation or to call in to talk to your organization)  |  Free for past HB team.  |  We are currently rewarding donors to our War Survivors Advisory civilian protection project and past HB team members with attendance to our webinars! HB team members of the past can attend online for free. WSA donors who donated $40 or more are invited to choose one webinar as a reward! WSA donors who supported with $80 or more can choose one webinar and also get a direct consultation call with our trainer or a team member for personal advice, solve a question for your career, or call in to give a talk to your class room or organization. Let us know your interest and we will schedule a session with you!  Donate and then let us know which course and your best time frame so we can confirm with the trainer, or you can also plan the webinar first and then donate the day of the webinar session. Let us know at and go here to donate. ===> WSA

B. Full Intensive Training Workshop

$120/person = Weekend Rapid Course with Short Simulation (12 hours, minimum 6 people) or $240/person = Week-Long Intensive Course with Simulation (24 hours, minimum 10 people)  |  Request a full-scale in-person training workshop with practicum at your location! Ask us if there will be a training near you! Sometimes we have a number of people in key places–namely Berlin, Amsterdam, Sarajevo, Nairobi, Istanbul, Kabul, Beirut–who have put in a request and we just wait until we have enough of a group and we can write to you and plan a date, so just let us know your interest at

C. Contract 

$400/day+ transport & lodging for Expert > $150/day+ expenses for local Field Worker/Fixer (depending on location) for Project Implementation, Private Intensive Training, or Field Research. | Hire a trainer, consultant or implementing team to run a full intensive course designed for your organization, or have us build a consulting team on this topic to implement projects with you.

Review Our Curriculum ===>

Part 1  |  Applying Story Theory to Designing a Proposal

  • Although every career field has it’s own language and style, we can apply a simple story theory that can fit all your project development options. When we design a project from the beginning, we are writing a proposal, and it helps to tell the story of the proposal to persuade potential donors, lenders, investors, or team members to sign up.
  • Story theory basics pose that we first portray who are the main characters (target beneficiaries, clients, audience, etc) and what do they want. Then, what barrier must they overcome to succeed? And finally, how will the donor, lender, investor, or team members participation help those people overcome the barrier.
  • Creating a project can be complex, but in the beginning our first goal is to let everyone know what we are proposing to do, and how their input will help the target group overcome the barrier.


Part 2  |  Paradigms, Logframes, Oh My! 

  • We recommend, like many aid agencies and documentary filmmakers, to brain storm backwards from the intended result back to what steps would need to be taken to get there.
  • For example, let’s say our goal is to help vulnerable civilians (mothers, disabled elderly) prepare early on to evacuate or shield themselves when mass violence is approaching their settlement. ===> See and support our War Survivors Advisory project by clicking here! <=== Where we would start to design a project like this? What is the intended final result here?
  • We want to increase the numbers of vulnerable civilians who profess confidence in preparation measures to evacuate or shield their families, so this is going to be a training with tools and we can treat it like a deep first aid training or skill training. The vulnerable civilians are equivalent to trainees learning how to use tools. So we hope that by the end of the project, let’s say, our 200 community mobilizers (each representing x 250 people they will mobilize = 50,000 people affected) will pass a test on how to organize evacuations, prepare bomb shelters, avoid weapons, and shield living spaces. Simplify it, and we have 200 students we hope will succeed in our training enough to pass a test.
  • Some agencies use “logical frameworks” or other paradigms which are basically an Excel sheet grid where you map these things out. If our final goal is to get 200 students to pass a test, which would provide the impact of having improved the survival rate of some proportion of those 10,000 people in that community. So how do we get there?
  • We fall back to objectives (a way to break the goal down into parts). Objective A may be to pass the evacuation portion, Objective B prepare bomb shelters, Objective C avoid weapons, and Objective D shield living spaces. Each objective can be reached with a subsection of activities to get us there. And each activity needs to produce some output, which requires some input.
  • Whether you work forward or backward, you reach a framework that says, our goal is to train 200 mobilizers to prepare their community for evacuations and civilian protection from violence for those who cannot evacuate. To do this, we need your help (insert donor, investor, lender, team member’s name here) to fund input (trainers, media training materials, tools such as communications equipment, first aid training kits, tarp, candles, etc) to produce output (training modules and their delivery in the field). With this effort, we can carry out the activities of training each mobilizer toward each of the four objectives. If we have succeeded in each of these objectives, then we will reach our goal and impact! Hooray!
  • Once you have designed the project proposal this far and have an outline and framework, now it’s time to flush out your team. How many people are needed for each aspect? Where are they and where do they need to be?
  • And finally budgeting. This is something we can go into as much detail as trainees need during the training by going over a sample budget similar to the trainees goals.


Part 3  |  Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEAL)

  • While some donors, lenders, and investors are flexible and confident enough to forward funding based purely on product (seeing final film or book) or product and output (seeing the community has received something tangible), the majority of donors, lenders, and investors these days ask project developers to include in the proposal a solid plan for measuring how the target group changes from before to after the project.
  • Measuring impact can be very tricky. One has to find the right indicators and measurement tools which can demonstrate how things have changed because of the project in such a way that other factors like weather, politics, unrelated social changes don’t cloud or skew or bias the measurement.
  • Even tougher, the MEAL plan must be vulnerable to showing a negative result if the project failed, so you have to let the donor or investor know if that’s the case, to be responsible to the partnership and the community.


Part 4  |  Submitting Your Proposal for Development of the Project

  • If you are with a large organization applying to traditional donors or partners, there is most likely a pattern for submitting a proposal to apply for funding. They call these CFPs (call for proposals), RFPs (request for proposals), tenders (call for companies to compete for a contract), or simply Grant Opportunities.
  • Smaller organizations, filmmakers, or individuals will probably be instead focusing on either foundation grants (for nonprofit or the arts) or private investors or lenders.
  • Foundations and government offices tend to work like a factory and send out smaller versions of the Grant Opportunities mentioned above. That includes simple instructions like, “Please submit (1) Letter of Inquiry summarizing the project and it’s budget size.” Then wait for an invitation for a full application and, “(2) If invited for a full application, please submit proposal (3-5 pages), budget, CVs of all team members, and samples.” It can be tough getting there, but not too complicated once you already have your project design.
  • Finally, if you are running a for-profit project or developing a business or even a film, you may need to go a different route. That means “pitching” your idea rather quickly to get your foot in the door, and sometimes a decision may be made based on those initial discussions before even getting to the details of the proposal. In these cases, we recommend completing a draft of the proposal, framework, and budget, and then writing incrementally smaller versions of it. Boil the 20 page package down to a 3-pager, then a 1-pager, then a paragraph, and then a sentence. Business investors tend to work this way, saying, “What’s the project?” Give them the one or two sentence. They may say, “We’re going in a different direction,” which means you should move on to another investor, or they may say, “Sounds good. Send me a one-pager.” Send them the one-pager and ask for a phone call to follow up. If you get this far, they may ask for a little more detail, the three-pager, and then staff you out to their assistant who will be the one looking at the full 20-page proposal. If you get this far, keep your momentum!
  • All HB trainings can be shaped around the goals of the trainee! So, let us know which kind of project you’re developing and where we should place focus.

Meet Our Trainer ===>

Daniel J Gerstle  |  Founder & executive director of Humanitarian Bazaar, has served as a filmmaker, humanitarian aid worker, human rights researcher, and war journalist in Africa, West Asia, the Middle East, Caucasus, and the Balkans. More recently, he created Humanitarian Bazaar, formerly known as HELO Media, to produce projects focused on how people survive war and disaster. With Humanitarian Bazaar, he produced the Mogadishu Music Festival (Somalia 2013), Journey of Peace Kenya music festival in Dadaab refugee camp (Kenya 2013), and co-produced the first Afghan rock fest, Sound Central Festival (Afghanistan, 2011). Live from Mogadishu, his first feature length film as director, premieres in summer 2014. Find him at  |

Arrange Your Training ===>

  1. Check here if we already have a webinar or workshop scheduled which you can attend. ===> Training Schedule.
  2. Write us to reserve your space for an existing training or to ask for a training which could be scheduled with you. In the latter case, just let us know what windows of time would work best for you and we will see whether it is best to have others attend together or to have a training personalized for you and/or your organization. ===> 
  3. Right now we are accepting all payments for training as a donation to our War Survivors Advisory civilian protection project, and offering webinars as rewards for such donations, so you can either go right away to donate and let us know that you have done so, or schedule your training and then pay once you are satisfied with the training. The payment/donation button to support the War Survivors Advisory, along with a description of the project, can be found here. ===> Training Payment via War Survivors Advisory.