This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Writing a good proposal is a very important tool for organising time and resources to complete a project that fully realises your objectives. But the proposal does not stand-alone. It must be part of a process of planning and of research on, outreach to, and cultivation of potential organisation and corporate donors. This process is grounded in the conviction that a partnership should develop between the firm that submits the proposal and the donor. When you spend a great deal of your time seeking money, it is hard to remember that it can also be difficult to give money away. In fact, the amounts contributed by a firm or corporation have no value until they are attached to solid programs in the proposed sector. This truly is an ideal partnership. The firms that submit a proposal have the ideas and the capacity to solve problems, but no amounts with which to implement them. The donors/funding agency have the financial resources but not the other resources needed to create programs. Bring the two together effectively, and the result is a dynamic collaboration. You need to follow a step-by-step process. It takes time and persistence to succeed. After you have written a proposal, it could take as long as a year to obtain the funds needed to carry it out. And even a perfectly written proposal submitted to the right prospect might be rejected for any number of reasons. The recommended process is not a formula to be rigidly adhered to. It is a suggested approach that can be adapted to fit the needs of any funding agency and the peculiarities of each situation. Fundraising is an art as well as a science. You must bring your own creativity to it and remain flexible. "What makes a good proposal?" A good proposal stems from a good concept. The best proposals are those to which the reviewers respond, "Of course, I wish I had thought of that!" Some of the proposals are prepared on the basis of programme announcement by project/funding agencies. In such cases, carefully read the program announcement. The program announcement gives the most current information available. It provides: (a) a rationale, (b) an overview, (c) detailed program information, (d) facts about preparation and submission of both preliminary and formal proposals, (e) review criteria, (f) special forms that should be submitted with proposals, and (g) advice to proposal writers. This is the best possible guide for preparing proposals and should be read carefully and followed precisely. There are no hidden agendas. Proposals are funded in a competitive system based on merit and promise.
Proposals are informative and persuasive writing. Basically the purpose of its writing are: 1. To educate the reader and 2. To convince and persuade the reader to go for action Proposals offer a plan to fill a need. It becomes convincing if nicely presented in written form with following questions answered, 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. What is going to be done? Why is it important to do it? Who are the beneficiaries and how do they benefit? How much will it be done and by whom? When is the work starting and ending? How much resources is required and for what purpose?
The most basic composition of a proposal requires:
The Introduction: (present and summarize the problem you intend to solve and provide solution to that problem. Mention the benefits the reader receive from the solution and the cost involved) Body: (mention how the job will be done and break those jobs into separate tasks, what method will be used to do it, include the resources required with detail cost breakdown for the entire job and give the time frame for completion of the tasks) Conclusion: (emphasise the benefits that the reader will realise from the action you propose, it is an invitation to the reader for taking part in the proposed activities and hence should be encouraging, confident, and assertive in tone)
Goal of proposal writing is not only to persuade the reader to do what is being requested, but also to convince him/her that the proposed solution is practical and appropriate. Hence, the case should be developed with good logic and reason in the approach taken to the solution. − − − − − Facts must lead logically and inevitably to the conclusion and the solution presented. Any questions that the reader might pose should be anticipated and answered. Alternative solutions to the problems should be included with justification of how the one chosen is superior to others. Careful consideration should be given while writing the pressures of the proposed implementation, a logical framework matrix could be useful and supportive in justifying some proposals. Do not include details in the main text; use Appendices to provide data, references, and information requiring in-depth analysis. All supporting documents (Time tables, schedules, budget breakdown legal papers, CVs etc.) should be the part of Appendices.
Types of Proposals
Normally Requests for Proposals (RFP) are announced publicly. They set forth the rules to be followed in applying. These are also called solicited proposals. They can take several forms: • • • analytic --This is a proposal calling for plans to study a problem, either to attempt to solve the problem or to discover its nature, scope, or severity. service – these proposals ask for ideas for methods for meeting a need by performing a service or delivering or installing a product. bids – bidding is a very specialised form of a proposal, often used in construction.
Unsolicited proposals are similar to your "unsolicited" resumes. For the proposal, you are searching for funding/support even though you are not sure there is funding available.
Proposal Writing Hints
There are certain general rules, which apply to the preparation of successful proposals. Although details vary from one funding agency to another, attention to these rules should enhance your ability to write a sound proposal worthy of funding. 1. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on your proposal: Writing a successful proposal requires almost as much time and thought as writing a publishable article. The final version is a revision of a revision of a revision. Before writing, read thoroughly the guidelines provided by the proposed funding agency: Be sure the narrative addresses the issues stressed. If a specific format is outlined, follow it. Before you submit your proposal, have the draft critiqued: by (a) someone familiar with the topic, and (b) someone with experience in judging proposals. The questions raised by these people may be incorporated into a revised draft. Remember reviewers will hardly call you for explanations, they will simply set aside your proposal in favour of another that is more clearly presented. All proposals must convince the reviewers of four things: a. that your project is of sufficient importance and significance to merit the award, b. that you have done a thorough review of literature/ situation analysis of the issues and have a well designed plan of activities, c. that the project is of manageable size and can be carried out within the time frame of the proposal, and d. that you are competent to complete the project successfully. 5. Introduction
State in the first few sentences what you propose to work on, the expected output and how long it will take.
Describe your qualifications for the project. Don’t be modest. Mention all relevant publications, unpublished data and your previous experiences. Be sure to include a comprehensive CV. 7. Use comprehensible language
Remember that reviewers may not be experts in your field and, therefore, may not understand technical jargons and discipline specific abbreviations. Use simple language and avoid using jargons. 8. Make sure that the final draft is neat, clean and easy to read
Have someone check for grammar, spelling and typographical errors. Run spell check on the computer. Physical appearance does make a difference.
− − − − − Make sure you are familiar with the instructions in the request for proposal. Study the proposal evaluation criteria and the points allocated to each section/subsection of the proposal, as well as points that are allocated to cost. This information will tell you what to emphasize and where to put your efforts with regard to proposal preparation. Hold an initial and regular follow-up meeting with your proposal team to discuss on strategies, progress and problems. To the extent possible, the strategy should provide answers to the following questions: who, what, when, where, how and why. Depending upon the instructions in the request for proposal, the management section of your proposal might contain a discussion on how you will manage the overall project, a discussion on how you will manage and oversee the work of your staff and subcontractors (if any), an organization chart of the project, and position descriptions of project staff. In your Personnel Section, you may be required to include narrative information on the experience and skills of the key staff members you are proposing for the project. You may need to demonstrate that you have performed similar or related work for this or other clients. Use tables, charts and graphics to summarize information (" a picture says a thousand words"). Check the entire proposal for the following: technical consistency; spelling; page numbering; section/sub section numbering or lettering; consistency of appearance of headings, subheadings, font types and font sizes. Make sure that you have filled and signed all the forms in the request for proposal that you must return with your bid. Before and after copying your proposal, check to see that each copy contains all pages and that they are in proper order.
− − − − − −
Gathering Background Information
Prior to detail proposal writing it is better to prepare a master proposal. The first thing you will need to do in writing the master proposal is to gather the documentation for it. You will require background documentation in three areas: concept, program, and expenses. If all of this information is not readily available to you, determine who will help you gather each type of information. If you are part of a small firm with no staff, a knowledgeable board member will be the logical choice. If you are in a larger agency, there should be program and financial support staff who can help you. Once you know with whom to talk, identify the questions to ask. This data-gathering process makes the actual writing much easier. And by involving other stakeholders in the process, it also helps key people within your agency seriously consider the project's value to the organization.
It is important that you have a good sense of how the project fits into the philosophy and mission of your agency. The need that the proposal is addressing must also be documented. These concepts must be well-articulated in the proposal. Funders want to know that a project reinforces the overall direction of an organization, and they may need to be convinced that the case for the project is compelling. You should collect background data on your organization and on the need to be addressed so that your arguments are well-documented.
Here is a check list of the program information you require:
− − − −
the nature of the project and how it will be conducted; the timetable for the project; the anticipated outcomes and how best to evaluate the results; and staffing and volunteer needs, including deployment of existing staff and new hires.
You will not be able to pin down all the expenses associated with the project until the program details and timing have been worked out. Thus, the main financial data gathering takes place after the narrative part of the master proposal has been written. However, at this stage you do need to sketch out the broad outlines of the budget to be sure that the costs are in reasonable proportion to the outcomes you anticipate. If it appears that the costs will be prohibitive, even with a foundation grant, you should then scale back your plans or adjust them to remove the least cost-effective expenditures.
Components of a Proposal
1. Cover Page − − − −
− − 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
Country Title Location Target Groups/Beneficiaries Responsible Organisation (name of executing and implementing agency, name of associate agencies) Total Budget Duration
Table of contents Abbreviations Executive summary Introduction/Background Statement of need − − − Problems to be addressed Review of past works/ongoing programmes/projects Justification of the programme/project
Project description − − − − − Objective/Purpose Expected Outputs Description of activities Methodology Beneficiaries/geographic areas
8. − − − − 9. 10. 11. 12.
Resources needed Personnel Facilities Equipment/supplies/communication Budget Risks and Assumptions Literature references Monitoring and Evaluation Sustainability
13. 14. 15.
Organisational information Conclusion Appendix − − − − − − − − − − Logical framework Terms of Reference of personnel CV of personnel Organisation chart Dissemination plan Time line Letter of support Cooperating agency descriptions Evaluation instruments etc.
IS A SET OF TECHNIQUES TO:
• • • •
Analyse the existing situation surrounding a given Problem area. Identify major problems (conditions) in that area. Define the core focal problem with in these major problem conditions. Visualize the cause –effect relationship in a diagram called problems tree.
HOW TO DO THE PROBLEMS ANALYSIS Step 1: Step 2: Step 3: Step 4: Step 5: Step 6: Step 7: Focus your attention on the problems situation which calls for the given project. Identify in your mind major problems existing within the stated problems situation Then write one and only one short statement of a tentative core/focal problem within these major problems. Identify problem that cause core/focal problem. Identify effects caused by core/focal problems. From a diagram showing the cause effect relationship in the form of a problems tree. Review diagram as a whole and verify its validity and completeness.
Note: 1. A problem is expressed as an existing negative state, but it should have a practical solution. 2. Identify only existing problems, not the possible, imagined or future ones. 3. The importance of a problem is not shown by its position in the problem tree.
(AN EXAMPLE OF A BUS COMPANY) Effects of Core Problem
Loss of confidence in a bus company
Frequent incidence or passenger hurt
Frequent incidence or passengers killed
Often passengers arriving late at their destination
Frequent bus accidents
Bad condition of vehicles
Drivers not careful enough
Bad road condition
Vehicles too old
Vehicles not property maintained
Logical Framework Matrix
Narrative Summary Goal Purpose Expectation/ Effect Outputs Achievements/ Concrete Results 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 …. Major Activities Contribution/ Impact Objectively Verifiable Indicators (OVIs) Means of Verification (MoV) Important Assumptions
1.1 2.2 3.1 4.1 1.2 2.2 3.2 4.2 1.3 2.3 3.3 4.3 1.4 2.4 3.4 4.4 1.5 …………… Specific Tasks
Input Counterpart Contribution Donor Contribution Pre-conditions
The Logical Framework Matrix provides one page summary on:
Why: What: What: How: Which: How: Where: What: What: What: What: A project is for carried out? Intended (cumulative) effect (of all achievements) the project would like to make (conditions to be brought at the end of the project phase/period) as an effect Results the project must bring about (for which the implementation team should be held responsible) The project is going to achieve these results External factors are crucial for the success of the project? The success of the project can be assessed or what do we mean by our goal, purpose and outputs? The data required to assess success of the project can be found Conditions should be fulfilled if any, to start the project implementation The project will cost in terms of time, manpower and other material resources Possible side effects the project could cause Possible risks the project could face
Components of a Proposal
1. − − − − − − − − Cover Page Check to see if the agency you have in mind has any specifications for the Title Page (often they have a required format). Usually the Title/Cover Page includes signatures of key people in your organization (Department Head, Supervisor, Contracts Officer, etc.). If your proposal is built on collaborating with other groups/organizations it is usually a good idea to include their names on the Title/Cover Page. Your cover should look professional and neat. The title should be clear and unambiguous. Think of your title as a mini-abstract. A good title should paint a quick picture for the reader of the key idea(s) of your project. The words you use in your title should clearly reflect the focus of your proposal. Try and use only a single sentence for your title.
− − − −
− − 2. 3. 4.
Country Title Location Target Groups/Beneficiaries Responsible Organisation (name of executing and implementing agency, name of associate agencies) Total Budget Duration
Table of contents Abbreviations Executive summary
This first page of the proposal is the most important section of the entire document. Here you will provide the reader with a snapshot of what is to follow. Specifically, it summarizes all of the key information and is a sales document designed to convince the reader that this project should be considered for support. Be certain to include: Problem: a brief statement of the problem or need your agency has recognized and is prepared to address (one or two paragraphs); Solution: a short description of the project, including what will take place and how many people will benefit from the program, how and where it will operate, for how long, and who will staff it (one or two paragraphs); Funding requirements: an explanation of the amount required for the project and what your plans are for funding it in the future (one paragraph); and Organization and its expertise: a brief statement of the name, history, purpose, and activities of your agency, emphasizing its capacity to carry out this proposal (one paragraph).
Be specific and brief, because: − − − − − The busy executive probably only has enough time to read the executive summary – not the entire proposal. Be specific and concise. Do not go into detail on aspects of your proposal that are further clarified at a later point in your proposal. The executive summary should "paint a picture" of your proposal in the mind of the reader. It should establish the framework so that the rest of the proposal has a frame of reference. Use the executive summary to begin to show your knowledge of the organization from which you are requesting funds. Key concerns of the funding organization can be briefly identified in relation to your proposed project. If you will be collaborating with other organizations make sure some of their interests are also highlighted in the executive summary. This can assist in strengthening the collaboration by recognizing them at the very beginning of your proposal. The best time to prepare the executive summary is after you have completed the entire proposal (and you understand all aspects of your proposal very well). Let the overview be your last piece of writing and then insert it at the beginning of your proposal. Try to keep in mind that someone will be reviewing your proposal and you would like to have this person be very positive about what you have written. The executive summary will probably form a strong impression in the mind of the reviewer. Work on your executive summary so that you can avoid giving this person the opportunity to say things like: Not an original idea Rationale is weak Writing is vague Uncertain outcomes Does not have relevant experience Problem is not important Proposal is unfocused Project is too large. Introduction/Background
The Introduction will be the first major section the reader encounters, so you have to make it as effective as you can to encourage further interest. The Introduction states the broad problem objectives, helps introduce the project subject, and explains why the problem is worth solving and who will be interested in the solutions. The introduction tells the reader: 1) 2) 3) What your project is about Why the project is worth doing, and Why your project is a good topic for fulfilling the desired tasks.
The Introduction must also state clearly and completely the specific objectives of your project -- in some detail, what you intend to accomplish. Though the reader encounters it first, you probably should write the "Introduction" last since you will need to have mastered the other parts of the proposal to provide an effective "Introduction." 6. Statement of need
If the funder reads beyond the executive summary, you have successfully initiated his or her interest. Your next task is to build on this initial interest in your project by enabling the funder to understand the problem that the project will remedy. The statement of need will enable the reader to learn more about the issues. It presents the facts and evidence that support the need for the project and establishes that your organisation
understands the problems and therefore can reasonably address them. The information used to support the case can come from authorities in the field, as well as from your agency's own experience. You want the need section to be concise, yet persuasive. Like a good debater, you must assemble all the arguments. Then present them in a logical sequence that will readily convince the reader of their importance. As you marshall your arguments, consider the following points. First, decide which facts or statistics best support the project. Be sure the data you present are accurate. There are few things more embarrassing than to have the funder tell you that your information is out of date or incorrect. Information that is too generic or broad will not help you develop a winning argument for your project. Information that does not relate to your organization or the project you are presenting will cause the funder to question the entire proposal. There also should be a balance between the information presented and the scale of the program. Second, give the reader hope. The picture you paint should not be so grim that the solution appears hopeless. The funder will wonder whether an investment in a solution will be worthwhile. Third, decide if you want to put your project forward as a model. This could expand the base of potential funders, but serving as a model works only for certain types of projects. Don't try to make this argument if it doesn't really fit. Funders may well expect your agency to follow through with a replication plan if you present your project as a model. If the decision about a model is affirmative, you should document how the problem you are addressing occurs in other communities. Be sure to explain how your solution could be a solution for others as well. Fourth, determine whether it is reasonable to portray the need as acute. You are asking the funder to pay more attention to your proposal because either the problem you address is worse than others or the solution you propose makes more sense than others. Fifth, decide whether you can demonstrate that your program addresses the need differently or better than other projects that preceded it. It is often difficult to describe the need for your project without being critical of the competition. But you must be careful not to do so. Being critical of other nonprofits will not be well received by the funder. It may cause the funder to look more carefully at your own project to see why you felt you had to build your case by demeaning others. The funder may have invested in these other projects or may begin to consider them, now that you have brought them to their attention. If possible, you should make it clear that you are aware of, and on good terms with, others doing work in your field. Keep in mind that today's funders are very interested in collaboration. They may even ask why you are not collaborating with those you view as key competitors. So at the least you need to describe how your work complements, but does not duplicate, the work of others. Sixth, avoid circular reasoning. In circular reasoning, you present the absence of your solution as the actual problem. Then your solution is offered as the way to solve the problem. For example, the circular reasoning for building a community swimming pool might go like this: "The problem is that we have no pool in our community. Building a pool will solve the problem." A more persuasive case would cite what a pool has meant to a neighboring community, permitting it to offer recreation, exercise, and physical therapy programs. The statement might refer to a survey that underscores the target audience's planned usage of the
facility and conclude with the connection between the proposed usage and potential benefits to enhance life in the community. The statement of need does not have to be long and involved. Short, concise information captures the reader's attention 6.1 Problems to be addressed
Use the statement of the problem to show that your proposed project is definitely needed and should be funded. It is essential to include a well documented statement of the need/problem that is the basis for your project. What are the pressing problems that you want to address? How do you know these problems are important? What other sources/programs similarly support these needs as major needs? Check to see that the potential funding agency is committed to the same needs/problems that your proposal addresses. Clearly indicate how the problems that will be addressed in your project will help the potential funding agency in fulfilling their own goals and objectives. As you write, keep the funding agency in your mind as a "cooperating partner" committed to the same concerns that you are. 6.2 Review of past works/ongoing programmes/projects
To show that you know what you are talking about concerning your project, you need to demonstrate that you know the background and context of your topic. Good questions to answer in this section are: − − What kinds of work/research/studies have been done before? What relevant kinds of studies or techniques need to be mastered to do your project? Where is the state of the art today? How have others gone about trying to solve problems you want to tackle, and in what ways will your approach build on and vary from previous work?
Think of the background section as the place where you identify and discuss the most important books, articles, or any other kind of source materials for your project. A well written review will provide a sense of critical issues and debates which form the background for your own original work. Everything in your literature review section should be mentioned in your bibliography. But not everything in the bibliography is important enough to be mentioned in the literature review. In other words, this section is a comment on the most valuable material you have identified which you will need to assimilate to do your project. The literature review thus provides a guide to all material you list separately as footnotes or bibliography. 6.3 Justification of the programme/project Social and gender
Economic benefits Environmental aspects
7.1 Goal: The goal is the higher level objective or longer-term impact of the project. 7.2 Purpose: The purpose is the measurable near-term impact of the project: changes in behaviour and activities of people, wish to improve their situation. This is the final accomplishment of the project. 7.3 Results/Outputs: The results/outputs are the result or deliverables of the project that the project leader can guarantee. 7.4 Activities: The activities are the key activities undertaken by the project team that summarise the action strategy to produce the outputs. Output Activity Sub-activities Begin End Responsible person Person days Year 1 2 3
Checklist for Statement of Objectives and Activities • • • • • • • • Are there objectives that reflect the need for the project and clearly show its purpose and direction? Has the need or problem committed to in the needs/problem statement been covered? Are the objectives realistic and appropriate? Are the objectives stated in terms of outcomes and not in terms of methods or activities? Do the objectives describe the population that will benefit? Do the objectives state the time by which they will be accomplished? Do the objectives describe the outcomes of the project in measurable terms? Do the activity statements show how the objective will be put into operation and accomplished?
What data are needed for the project and how will they be collected? If the project requires a survey or interviews, the design of this instrument (especially the selection of participants) must be explained and justified.
What method or process will be used to analyze this data and where else (if anywhere) has this method or process been used?
The target audience should be clearly explained in terms of demographic characteristics, size, and special characteristics or problems/challenges faced by the group. The project design should be developed in a manner that will effectively assist the target group in addressing those special problems or challenges. − − − − − − − Include specific information on the population or clientele that your project is focused on. Exactly who are the clientele? Who is included in the clientele group? In what ways have you already had contact with the clientele group? Can you show that you have the support of the clientele group to move ahead with the project? In what ways have members of the clientele group been involved in the preparation of the proposal? What other agencies are involved with this clientele group (and have these other agencies been included in your proposed project)? It's important for the funding agency to see how much the clientele group has been involved with the project and the preparation of the proposal. (Sometimes a project is funded and then the director finds that the clientele group does not want to be involved!! Don't let that happen to you.) Be sure to clarify why it is important for the funding organization to be concerned about your clientele. Your proposal should clearly indicate how assisting your clientele is in the best interests of the funding organization. Who benefits? How do they benefit? Gender aspects Who will be disadvantaged, if any? 8. 8.1 Resources needed Personnel
In describing the resources, you will have to mention staffing for the project. You now need to devote a few sentences to discussing the number of staff, their qualifications, and specific assignments. Details about individual staff members involved in the project can be included either as part of this section or in the appendix, depending on the length and importance of this information. "Staffing" may refer to volunteers or to consultants, as well as to paid staff. Most proposal writers do not develop staffing sections for projects that are primarily volunteer run. Describing tasks that volunteers will undertake, however, can be most helpful to the proposal reader. Such information underscores the value added by the volunteers as well as the costeffectiveness of the project.
For a project with paid staff, be certain to describe which staff will work full time and which will work part time on the project. Identify staff already employed by your organisation and those to be recruited specifically for the project. How will you free up the time of an already fully deployed individual? Salary and project costs are affected by the qualifications of the staff. Delineate the practical experience you require for key staff, as well as level of expertise and educational background. If an individual has already been selected to direct the program, summarize his or her credentials and include a brief biographical sketch in the appendix. A strong project director can help influence a grant decision. Describe for the reader your plans for administering the project. This is especially important in a large operation, if more than one agency is collaborating on the project, or if you are using a fiscal agent. It needs to be crystal clear who is responsible for financial management, project outcomes, and reporting.
Name (if known)
Days charged Year 1 2 3
Role in / Contribution to Activities
(Expand table as necessary, and provide brief curriculum vitae of each individual.) 8.2 −
Facilities Though you may not be requesting funds for the purchase or rental of facilities, it can be helpful to provide a brief description of the facilities that will be used for the project. Consider describing existing facilities that will be used for the project as in-kind contributions to the project. Even if you have free access to classrooms at a local school, meeting space at a shopping mall or a project room in a local office building, it can be helpful to indicate how much additional money the prospective funding agency would have to provide if these facilities were not donated. Equipment/supplies/communication Be careful in listing the equipment that will be needed for your project. Funding sources are usually much more willing to provide funds for the support of personnel than they are to support the purchase of equipment (that may or may not directly benefit the funded project).
The following are some of the examples of equipment that may be needed for a funded project: • • • • • • tape recorder (for recording interviews, dictating reports, etc.) video cassette recorder and television monitor (for recording project activities, documenting change, etc.) computer/monitor/printer (for general project support) desks/chairs/tables lamps intercom/office telephone system
• • • − −
telephone conferencing equipment photocopy machine specialized equipment for fulfilling project objectives
It will help if you've really done some research on the actual cost of the equipment you specify. This is much better than "guessing" at the cost and then to be challenged on your estimates by the potential funding agency. It is easy to overlook many of the office supplies that will be needed for your project. Will you be needing printed letterhead stationery? And, if you will be mailing many letters, have you considered the current cost of postage (and possible increases in cost)? Do you have a good idea how much paper is needed to support the use of a computer word processor? Have you recently checked the price on such things as sticky notes, paper clips, or pencils/pens? A trip to a local office supply store could be most appropriate. Coffee, cups, donuts or other "supplies" for morning and afternoon breaks are usually not included in the proposal. These are personal (not project) expenses. How will you be sharing information about your project with others? Will your project include a Newsletter? How about a website? The more open you are and willing to help others learn from your experiences the more likely a funding agency will be interested in assisting. Consider including in your proposal additional funds for hosting some form of workshop or institute where you can bring together other professionals who are interested in conducting a similar type of project in their area. This would be a good way to publicly recognize your funding organization. Invite someone from the funding organization to attend the workshop so they can hear what others think about the investment they have made. Budget Make your budget realistic. Carefully think through exactly what you will need from the funding agency to carry out the project and establish your budget around this amount. (Do not forget, funding agencies receive lots of requests for funding. They can easily tell when someone has inflated a budget in order to procure funds for other purposes. Don't get caught in this situation.) Have someone else in your organization review your budget to see how realistic you are. Do you really need a large amount of funding at the beginning of the project or will your project be "phased up" over a period of time? Sometimes it's not very realistic to expect a new project to be able to be up and operating (and spending large amounts of money) during the first 6 months or year of operation. A good strategy to use with a potential funding agency is to ask for a small amount of funding for the first phase of the project. Specify in your proposal what you expect to achieve during this "minimal funding phase" and when you will be returning to the funding agency to ask for funds for the next phase. This can suggest to the funding agency that they can terminate the relationship easily if your project is not successful (and then it is essential for you to make sure the first phase IS successful). Check with the agency to see if they have suggested/required budget categories that they want you to use.
If the potential funding agency doesn't have any suggested/required budget categories, organize your budget around a set of meaningful categories that work for the project you are proposing. Categories that you may want to consider for itemizing your budget are: Personnel (salary and benefits) Consultants (salary) Training/workshops Equipment Supplies Communication (telephone/postage) Materials preparation Travel Rental of facilities Evaluation Other expenses Indirect costs (costs that your organization requires that you include) A suggested budget format for a three year funding proposal: Year 1 PERSONNEL Person #1 Person #1 Person #3 Sub-Total FACILITIES (list) Sub-Total EQUIPMENT (list) Sub-Total SUPPLIES (list) Sub-Total COMMUNICATION (list) Telephone Postage Sub-Total TRAVEL (list) Fuel Vehicle Rental Rail Tickets Sub-Total . TOTAL SUM TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Year 1 . Year 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Year 2 . Year 3 . . Year 3 Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Risks and Assumptions Literature References
References usually consist of footnotes and a bibliography. Footnotes may appear a) at the bottom of the page, b) at the end of the chapters, or c) at the end of the report but before the appendices. Footnotes usually cite appropriate sources of information (including interviews or verbal contributions from others) or occasionally indicate cross-reference to additional material. Whatever the format, footnotes contain the name(s) of the author(s), book or journal title, date of publication (usually with the place and publisher for books) and, for journals, the volume and page numbers. The bibliography lists all materials cited in notes. Its value as a list of relevant materials often makes it useful to consult independent of the report itself (so be sure to check bibliographies in your sources for relevant materials.) Bibliographies are often used as the sole source for the full reference for footnotes; the footnotes very briefly cite the work in question (by author(s) and year, for example), leaving the full citation in the bibliography. 11. Monitoring and Evaluation
An evaluation plan should not be considered only after the project is over; it should be built into the project. Including an evaluation plan in your proposal indicates that you take your objectives seriously and want to know how well you have achieved them. Evaluation is also a sound management tool. Like strategic planning, it helps an organisation refine and improve its program. An evaluation can often be the best means for others to learn from your experience in conducting the project. There are two types of formal evaluation. One measures the product; the other analyzes the process. Either or both might be appropriate to your project. The approach you choose will depend on the nature of the project and its objectives. For either type, you will need to describe the manner in which evaluation information will be collected and how the data will be analyzed. You should present your plan for how the evaluation and its results will be reported and the audience to which it will be directed. For example, it might be used internally or be shared with the funder, or it might deserve a wider audience. A funder might even have an opinion about the scope of this dissemination. 12. Sustainability
A clear message from grant makers today is that grant seekers will be expected to demonstrate in very concrete ways the long-term financial viability of the project to be funded and of the organization itself. It stands to reason that most grant makers will not want to take on a permanent funding commitment to a particular agency. Rather, funders will want you to prove either that your project is finite (with start-up and ending dates); or that it is capacity-building (that it will contribute to the future self-sufficiency of your agency and/or enable it to expand services that might be revenue generating); or that it will make your organization attractive to other funders in the future. Evidence of fiscal sustainability becomes a highly sought-after characteristic of the successful proposal. It requires you to be very specific about current and projected funding streams, both earned income and fundraised, and about the base of financial support for your organisation. Some grant makers, of course, will want to know who else will be receiving a copy of this same proposal. You should not be shy about sharing this information with the funder.
Organisational information Organisation of the proposed project
Include organisation chart of the proposed programme/project If you will be using a Steering Committee (Advisory Committee, Governing Board, etc.) to assist in your project, this is a good place to describe how it will be organized and who will be included. A Steering Committee can be politically very helpful to you and your project. You can enlist the support of a variety of other agencies/organizations by placing a representative of these agencies/organizations on your Steering Committee. Make sure you define the length of service for the members of the Steering Committee (so that membership can rotate and you can minimize the length of service of someone who may not be helpful!). A Steering Committee can greatly help in identifying and linking to other resources. A viable Steering Committee can suggest to a funding agency that the project has strong links to the local situation and the project has a good chance of continuing after the funding period is over. 13.2 Your organisation
Normally a resume of your organization should come at the end of your proposal. Your natural inclination may be to put this information up front in the document. But it is usually better to sell the need for your project and then your agency's ability to carry it out. It is not necessary to overwhelm the reader with facts about your organization. This information can be conveyed easily by attaching a brochure or other prepared statement. In two pages or less, tell the reader when your organisation came into existence; state its mission, being certain to demonstrate how the subject of the proposal fits within or extends that mission; and describe the organization's structure, programs, and special expertise. Discuss the size of the board, how board members are recruited, and their level of participation. Give the reader a feel for the makeup of the board. (You should include the full board list in an appendix.) If your agency is composed of volunteers or has an active volunteer group, describe the function that the volunteers fill. Provide details on the staff, including the numbers of full and part-time staff, and their levels of expertise. Describe the kinds of activities in which your staff engage. Explain briefly the assistance you provide. Describe the audience you serve, any special or unusual needs they face, and why they rely on your agency. Cite the number of people who are reached through your programs. Tying all of the information about your organisation together, cite your agency's expertise, especially as it relates to the subject of your proposal. 14. Conclusion
Every proposal should have a concluding paragraph or two. This is a good place to call attention to the future, after the grant is completed. If appropriate, you should outline some of the follow-up activities that might be undertaken to begin to prepare your funders for your next request. Alternatively, you should state how the project might carry on without further grant support.
This section is also the place to make a final appeal for your project. Briefly reiterate what your nonprofit wants to do and why it is important. Underscore why your agency needs funding to accomplish it. Don't be afraid at this stage to use a bit of emotion to solidify your case. 15. Appendices − − − − − − − − − − − Logical framework Budget summary Terms of Reference of personnel CV of personnel Organisation chart Dissemination plan Time line Letter of support Cooperating agency descriptions Evaluation instruments etc.
Sometimes the scale of the project might suggest a small-scale letter format proposal, or the type of request might not require all of the proposal components or the components in the sequence recommended here. The guidelines and policies of individual funder will be your ultimate guide. Many funders today state that they prefer a brief letter proposal; others require that you complete an application form. In any case, you will want to refer to the basic proposal components as provided here to be sure that you have not omitted an element that will support your case. As noted, the scale of the project will often determine whether it requires a letter or the longer proposal format. For example, a request to purchase a $1,000 fax machine for your agency simply does not lend itself to a lengthy narrative. A small contribution to your agency’s annual operating budget, particularly if it is a renewal of past support, might also warrant a letter rather than a full-scale proposal. What are the elements of a letter request? For the most part, they should follow the format of a full proposal, except with regard to length. The letter should be no more than three pages. You will need to call upon your writing skills because it can be very hard to get all of the necessary details into a concise, well-articulated letter. As to the flow of information, follow these steps while keeping in mind that you are writing a letter to someone. It should not be as formal in style as a longer proposal would be. It may be necessary to change the sequence of the text to achieve the correct tone and the right flow of information. Here are the components of a good letter proposal:
Ask for the gift: The letter should begin with a reference to your prior contact with the funder, if any. State why you are writing and how much funding is required from the particular foundation. Describe the need: In a very abbreviated manner, tell the funder why there is a need for this project, piece of equipment, etc. Explain what you will do: Just as you would in a full proposal, provide enough detail to irritate the funder’s interest. Describe precisely what will take place as a result of the grant. Provide agency data: Help the funder know a bit more about your organization by including your mission statement, brief description of programs offered, number of people served, and staff, volunteer, and board data, if appropriate. Include appropriate budget data: Even a letter request may have a budget that is a half page long. Decide if this information should be incorporated into the letter or in a separate attachment. Whichever course you choose, be sure to indicate the total cost of the project. Discuss future funding only if the absence of this information will raise questions. Close: As with the longer proposal, a letter proposal needs a strong concluding statement.
Attach any additional information required: The funder may need much of the same information to back up a small request as a large one: a board list, financial documentation, and brief resumes of key staff.
It may take as much thought and data gathering to write a good letter request as it does to prepare a full proposal (and sometimes even more). Don’t assume that because it is only a letter, it isn’t a time-consuming and challenging task. Every document you put in front of a funder says something about your agency. Each step you take with a funder should build a relationship for the future.
Tips on Preparing a Successful Proposal
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • Be realistic – what can reasonably be accomplished in the scope (time and resources). Be factual and specific – don’t talk in generalities or in emotional terms. Be able to substantiate all statements in your proposal. Use simple language – avoid abbreviations, initials and jargons. Don’t assume the reader will understand your acronyms or abbreviations. Read the guidelines carefully – make your proposal fit the funding requirements. Go over the checklist repeatedly and make sure each item is addressed. Choose a format that is clear and easy to read. Make sure tables are legible and easy to figure out. Stick to the number of pages. Make sure that you include the requested number of copies of your proposal. Make sure the cover page is complete with all the information as requested. Do it yourself. Plan ahead – allow plenty of time for those involved to meet, discuss, review progress. Check current prices of hardware, software and materials you plan to purchase for this project. Also include development costs: consultant fees, associated material costs etc. Call if you have questions – don’t assume. When you call, be organized – be clear on what you need to know and how to ask for it. Call by yourself. Read the directions.
Characteristics of a Good Proposal
A good proposal: • • • • • • • • remembers the readers and impresses them favorably. concerns a subject worthy of pursuing. is appropriate for the audience chosen. has a clear purpose. present the proposal fairly, accurately, and honestly. avoids obtrusive sales talk which just arouses suspicions and clouds the issues. contains complete information. is structured on a logical plan of organization
Proposal Pitfalls – Don’t let these happen to you
• • • • • • Failure to follow the request for proposal instructions regarding organization of the proposal, inclusion of required information, page limits, volumes, etc. Failure to take evaluation criteria and allocated points into consideration when preparing your response. Failure to understand and to demonstrate an understanding of the problem (i.e., the reason why the agency is issuing the request for proposal). Failure to submit your proposal on the required date and time. Failure to include all of the information requested by the Agency. Failure to tailor response to the specific request for proposal.
• • • • • • • • •
Costs/budgets are unreasonable (too high or too low) or incomplete. Costs/budgets do not provide any detail or breakdown information (if required) for line and sub-line items. Failure to include specifics of your proposed approach to the project. Proposal is unprofessional in appearance (e.g., typo errors, blank pages, unnumbered pages, sloppy-looking, etc.). This reflects poorly upon your organization. Proposal is poorly written (e.g., information is not presented/organized in a logical manner, proposal is difficult to follow, poor grammar, etc.) Proposal merely repeats or paraphrases the request for proposal. Proposal does not explain how or by whom the project will be managed. Proposal does not contain relevant information about your firm, its capabilities, and/or its management and staff. Proposal does not demonstrate that your firm/organization and personnel have the experience and capability to carry out the project.
When writing a proposal, always rely upon?
• • • • • • • clarity, conciseness, continuity, transitions, consistencies, simplicity, and readability.
How to Proceed
• • • • • State the precise question or problem you plan to study Write your expected answers or solutions Write a title – be accurate, clear and concise. Prepare an outline, a skeleton on which to build the actual proposal. Write a synopsis of your purpose define your purpose describe your methods of procedure and rationale
Always seek out advice on proposals from those more accomplished in the skill of writing them: • • • • What form or line of reasoning "worked" recently? Are there any (to you) unknown directions of research that are preferred? Who will make the decision on funding? Are there preferred formats for a particular organization?
Remember that proposal writing is an acquired skill – no one is born able to do it well. Mastery comes with practice.
Ten Commandments of Proposals
Most of the proposals we develop need funding agencies for translating its version into action. The size of the purse of the funding agencies, both private and public, being more or less constant the competition for the access to the resources is in increasing order. Organizations take a long- term view of grants they provide and expect a tangible output from their investment. Learning how to address the concerns of funding agencies or the foundations may help to improve the chances of accepting the proposals, particularly for grant funding. This presentation called “Fishing in Foundation Waters” is an observation of good grantmanship in the form of “10 commandments”. These Commandments may be applicable for convincing the proposals to all kinds of sources. 1. “Cast Your Line In Likely Waters” : Be realistic Make it appear related to the grantor agency otherwise it is not worth submitting. 2. “Use the Right Bait” : Follow Instruction Use the format that is requested. Proposals that do not comply to the instructions, typed in condensed font size and cramped layout are often rejected. Do not submit the proposal, which has already been submitted elsewhere without proper corrections. 3. “Don’t Scare the Fish Away” : Avoid Over Familiarity Avoid those activities, which embarrasses the concerned authorities in the agency. Invitation for lunch or more formal meeting or any activities creating suspicion of influence may not be productive.
4. “ Lure the Fish to Your Fishing Hole” : Engage Key Officials Invest some time getting to know key personnel in the organization rather than imposing yourself upon them. Explore whether there are “Can’t say no” colleagues or not. Use friends and connections to improve the status of your proposal. Decision makers may try to avoid such approach, however, your chances of receiving a favorable review are much better. 5. “Use a Line That’s is Strong Enough” : Ensure You and Your Project Are Wellrounded Be clear and precise. Explain how your approach is different to other similar projects. Sometimes you may have no idea of the scale of resources required. You may include a rough estimate of financial reports and budget in your letter of inquiry. Such action may help to call evaluator’s attention. 6. Don’t Be Discouraged if Your line Breaks : Keep Trying Sometimes excellent proposals are rejected or turned down because of factors outside the control of the funding agency. The project may not fall into the scope of institution’s mission or might have already funded many other similar projects and now wants to diversify its interest. Your proposal might be great and well presented, but your timing just may have missed the mark.
7. “Many Small fish May Make a Better Meal Than one Big Fish” : Don’t Be Over Ambitious Reviewer’s general tendency is to select small proposals requiring smaller budget over larger proposals. Proposals requiring larger grants may also be too ambitious in what they hope to accomplish. It reduces the funding chances either. 8. “Two Fishers Are Often Able to Land a Fish Easier Than One Alone”: Form Collaborations Collaboration or joining forces with other groups or investigators is not entirely necessary, but sometimes inclusion of some individuals from certain organization possessing expert knowledge in a certain area can be helpful. Letters from potential collaborators or fellow experts stating their willingness to share their equipment, expertise, or resources can be very beneficial to a proposal. 9. “ Keep Steady Pressure On the Line When Fish Takes the Bait”: Fulfill All Obligations of Funding Agency Provide progress report and other necessary update documents as requested. Be in constant touch with the authority and furnish them with information even through phone calls, if necessary. Never forget to invite authorities from the funding agency if you are organizing workshops / seminars or presentation of your findings. 10. “Study the Ways of Fish Diligently” Do your Homework The behavior of funding agencies differs depending upon their nature, experiences and sizes. Hence, the specifics and nature of funding agencies should be studied before submitting the proposal. Submitting the proposal is not as complicated as your task you have committed to accomplish. Do your homework and follow the instructions for standing a good chance of winning the award. Share your experiences with your younger colleagues so that they become familiar with different funding sources early on.
Things to be considered before sending a proposal
− Learning More About the Review Process Form a committee of professional colleagues and review the proposal before submitting them. − Getting Advice Consider asking someone who has served on a review panel to assess your proposal. If possible, have someone not connected with the proposal read and comment on a draft of your proposal—with sufficient time allowed for changes prior to the submission of your proposal. This person can help identify omissions or inconsistent logic before reviewers see the proposal. Some programs require a preliminary proposal. Check the Program Announcement. − Before Finishing the Proposal When a checklist is provided in the Program Announcement, use it to ensure that all needed information, signatures, and/or administrative details are included. Look again at the purpose and at your written plans and procedures for achieving the objectives. Check to see that the objectives are well-developed and realistic and that your plans are innovative and appropriate. Consider using graphics to make your point stronger and clearer. A time line to show when different components of your project are to take place can be particularly effective. Include a table of contents. This makes it easy for reviewers to locate important sections of your proposal. − Little Things That Can Make a Difference • • • • • • − Use a spell checker before submitting the proposal. Proofread carefully. Be sure to follow the directions given in the Program Announcement. In particular, follow any specific requirements such as page limitations. In general avoid abbreviations. For example, use laboratory, not lab and mathematics, not math. The first time you use an acronym, write out what it stands for and put the acronym in parentheses. After that you can use the acronym. Make sure all your references are correct.
Aesthetic Checklist • • • Does the cover express something of the content of the proposal or the nature of your organization? Is there a Table of Contents? Is there a title page with necessary background information describing this document?
• • • • • • • • • • •
Does the organization of the proposal enhance the content and make it easy to find/avoid types of information? Are the margins consistent? Is the pagination accurate? Did you use a consistent type style? Is the copying high quality? Did you footnote narratively? Did you use color-coding? Did you avoid unnecessary charts, tables, diagrams? Is the binding neat and attractive? Is the typing accurate? Are the section headings clear and consistent in format?
Proposal Assessment Criteria
The following factors are generally taken into consideration while assessing proposals: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. The proposal demonstrates broad and strong community impact. Create lasting values. Demonstrate new and sustainable ways to solve identified problems/ shortcomings. Reach under-served populations. Leverage additional financial or volunteer resources. Reduce long-term cost or duplication. Improve service delivery quality from a consumer's perspective. Management Plan – including the project design, plan of operation, time lines, coordination, overall supervision and quality control. 9. Personnel Qualification – including the credentials of project director and key staff, experience on similar issues and adequacy of project staff. In Nepal, some of the agencies use the following points to assess a proposal: 1. Alignment with national and sectoral policies and priorities as described in the Tenth Plan and Sectoral Master Plan. 2. Demonstrated responsiveness to target groups' problems and needs. (How the demand and need of the target groups been clearly expressed and are they convincing?) 3. Has adequate attention been given to cross-cutting issues? (Social and economic aspects, the environment and gender issues). 4. Is the proposed project logically consistent and is the methodology technically sound (purpose clearly stated, outputs logically framed to achieve the project purpose, activities technically framed to produce the stated outputs). 5. Are the beneficiaries clearly identified? (Who they are and how they will benefit?) 6. The prospect for adoption by the intended beneficiaries of the outcomes within a foreseeable time-frame. 7. Are the budget and work programme justified and sufficient to achieve the outputs?
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?