The First Steps towards developing a Proper Concept Note
If you have a project idea in mind and you know the right donor agency to apply, then it is fairly easy to come up with a proper concept note. So the first step here is your project idea!
You should then start searching for your donor agencies that can possibly fund your idea. It is easier to write the concept note after you have identified your donors because there are vast differences in their systems of accepting your project idea. Like mentioned earlier, some donors accept concept notes in certain format only while others just request a simple narration.
Further, donor interests will vary and it may not necessarily be the same as you think. So your concept note has to be molded in such a manner that it draws the attention of the donor based on mutual interests. For this to happen, you may need to research and learn more about your donor.
Once you have successfully identified your donor agency and your project idea is ready, you can start working on your concept note.
The Questions you need to ask yourself by writing the Concept Note
In order to refine your project idea, one of the best ways is to ask yourself questions. Remember that your project idea is raw and unstructured – nobody will ever understand it nor any donor agency will relate to it unless you refine and give it a proper structure. To give it a proper structure, you need to refine it as much as possible.
The Structure of the Concept Note
An unstructured concept note should ideally have a title, submitted by, date of submission as the primary information in the header section. Preferably, the title should be short but make sure it reflects the overall idea of the project that resonates with the donor’s objectives.
Introduction or Background
The first section of the project should be an ‘introduction’ or ‘background’ of the project where you can state the problem you are trying address and also explain what are the root causes of this problem. You can conclude this section with the ‘opportunity’ available for you to make the intervention and address the problem. Usually, the ‘opportunity’ can be in form of your own skills that can be used to reduce the problem or a government policy.
Remember to give references to your narrative so that you can establish authority to the facts given. For example, if you explain that there is extensive poverty in the region, you need to supply some data and a reference. Also, try to give numbers in terms of men, women, and children getting affected by the overall situation. In this way, you can ensure that gender has been integrated from the planning stage itself.
Goal and Objectives
List out the goal and objectives in this section. The goal is usually the long-term impact of ‘reduction in poverty’ or ‘improved living conditions of the people.’ It may not necessarily be achieved.
Objectives have to be specific and if provide numbers, it will be more helpful. For example, 100 women will have access to newer sources of livelihood’. Also limit your objectives to 3 or 5 – the lesser number of objective, the more practical the approach will be.
This section briefly analyzes the result of your project. You can list out the results that the project will achieve during the project period. For example, 100 households have increased income from agriculture.’ Again, numbers can be very important while narrating expected results.
A separate section explaining the uniqueness of your project will be very useful. As donors are interested to see what new value you are going add to this project, this section will quickly introduce them to the innovative approach you will use to address this problem. Although most concept notes may not have this section, if you include it, it will create a positive effect on the donor agency.
The last section of the concept note will be the budget. Although a detailed analysis is not required, you would still need to submit a reasonable sense of how much money you are seeking from the donor to execute the project. You can also give a quick breakup of the main items (not more than 5-6). Any matching contribution from you or any other agency can also be mentioned here.