You can draft the proposal using this template and then customize it to suit donor guidelines. For helping you develop your proposal, suitable examples have been used to describe the content of each section.
Title Page: The title page typically contains the project title, along with contact details of the organization and the donor. Remember that the title of the project should be catchy and should capture the essence of the project proposal. The project title should provide a general idea of what the project is about and at the same time be simple and straightforward.
Your title page should be attractive and should not look cluttered and unprofessional.
Executive summary: This section is the summary of the project and presents a snap shot of the project to the reader. The executive summary not only summarizes the project proposal but also analyses important points relating to the problem, the solution, the uniqueness of the proposal and the reason your organization is suitable to carry out such a project.
To set the right tone it is important that you are able to address to the Why, How, and what of the proposal, (Why- why do you want to start a particular project/why is the particular problem so important, How relates to the approach you will use to resolve the problem; and What refers to the goals you want to achieve at the end of the project.)
Even though executive summary is the first section in the proposal document, you can always draft this section once you have completed drafting the entire proposal. This way it will be easier for you to take important points from the proposal body and use it in the summary. Some points that you should keep in mind while summarizing the proposal are given below:
- Why is the project important?
- What is the problem that you are addressing?
- How do you intend to resolve the problem?
- What is the total budget and duration for the proposed project?
The ideal length of the executive summary usually is of around one page long which approximately 300-500 words.
Project Rationale/Background: This is an important section of the proposal as it presents the argument of why your project needs funding. It describes the issues and problems that a particular community faces and how your organization would address the given problem.
Some points that should be considered while drafting the project rationale are:
What is the problem?
- What are some important facts related to the problem?
- Why is your organization suited to carry out such a project?
- What are the key actions that you will carry out as part of the project?
- What are some expected results of the project?
There is no standard rule for writing the project rationale, but most experts consider that the following four elements should be covered by the rationale.
- Situation Analysis: this section should briefly explore the current situation of the area. You can quote facts about the problem in this particular section.
- Purpose: Here you should talk about why it is important to solve the particular problem and also what approach can be used to resolve the issue.
- Organization Strength: In this section focus on your organizations strength and your past experience in resolving similar issues.
Project Goal: Goal is a broad statement that defines what you plan to do in a project. Always remember that a well-written goal statement is a marketing tool that will help you in getting funded. The goal basically defines the purpose of the proposal by giving an idea to the reader of what problem your organization intends to address. As the goal of the proposal shows the reader your intention towards solving a particular problem it should be linked with the problem statement. For instance if the problem that you are addressing is related to widow rehabilitation and well being your goal should state that you seek to empower widows in the area through the proposed project. You can use words like decrease, deliver, develop, establish, improve, increase, produce, and provide while writing the proposal.
Framing a quality Goal
Avoid vagueness: Goal should clearly indicate the purpose of your proposal and specify certain aspects of the project.
The goal here clearly indicates the following:
- The main purpose of the project is empowerment of widows and vulnerable women.
- Target beneficiary of the project are 100 widows and vulnerable women.
- Entrepreneurship Development and capacity development will be used to empower the women.
- The project will be implemented in Busia County.
Objective: Objectives are detailed statements describing the ways through which you intend to achieve the goal. Use the S.M.A.R.T. method of writing your objectives which means writing Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound statements. All the objectives should contribute and supports in achieving the specified goal. While framing the objectives ensure that they provide answers to the 5Ws:
- Why: are you proposing a particular thing?
- What: approach will you adopt to reach the desired goal?
- When: will you conduct the particular project?
- Where: will you implement the project?
- Who: will be the primary stakeholders/beneficiaries or who will be doing a particular thing in a project?
Your objectives should always be written using action verbs like create, identify, promote, enhance, increase, and develop etc. These verbs help in describing the course of action and give clarity to your object.
Project Strategy: Project Strategyrefers to the methods that will be used in achieving project goals and objectives. These are broad approaches and provide direction in project implementation. The strategy will align your project activities with the project goals and objectives.
- Awareness Generation
- Capacity Building
- Market Linkages
- Enterprise Development
Project Activities: These refer to the smallest identifiable and measurable pieces of work planned for completion throughout a project. Defining the activities help the project staff to understand what actions to do and at what time. Every activity is associated with a definite interim goal or objective.
- Identification of widows in the village
- Conducting counseling sessions.
- Conducting Motivational sessions
- Meetings with families and guardians
- Awareness session on widow rights
Project Management/Personnel: This section talks about project management aspects. Here, you mention about the implementation staff, the implementation schedule and other related stuff. You can describe the people who will be hired as part of the project along with their respective roles. Example: The Project team will comprise of the following staff members:
- Project Director, who will be responsible for the overall administration and management of the project. He/she will develop proposals for future funding and manage the other staff.
- Social worker: responsible for mobilization and conducting initial level village meetings and orientation sessions.
- Counselors: Will conduct emotional and motivational sessions for the women.
- Trainers: A total of three trainers for conducting training on soft skills, tailoring and jewelry designing.
Similarly you can also mention about the implementation schedule of various activities.
Monitoring & Evaluation: This section discusses about the proposed mechanisms and procedures for monitoring the project activities so that one can ensure that all activities occur as planned. You should have a well defined plan to monitor your project activities and also to evaluate the success of the project. Monitoring allows the project team to keep a check on the progress, while evaluation helps the team to appraise data and improve project implementation in future.
Performance Indicator: Performance indicators form an important part of the proposal as they indicate whether the objectives have achieved meaningful results. Performance indicators help the project team in identifying the quality and level of the result that has been achieved. Performance indicators have been categorized into qualitative; quantitative, process and result indicators. Quantitative indicators are numerical in nature while qualitative indicators require subjective evaluation. Similarly process indicators are used to define a process or an activity, while results indicators refer to the indicators that indicate the result achieved from the implementing the activity. While identifying the performance indicators keep the following in mind:
- Should be realistic
- Should be simple to use
- Have few meaningful indicators that can be used regularly to assess the project
- Can be used for analysis
- Gives clear indication of the success of the result.
Sustainability: To sustain the impacts of any community based project it is essential that suitable linkages are developed with the local community, government department and all relevant stakeholders. You should clearly spell out the sustainability measures in your project.
Example: Some ways through which you can ensure sustainability.
- Community Participation: We ensure that the local people actively participate in the entire project so that they own the project rather than considering it as some sort of charity.
- Multi- stakeholder engagement/partnerships: We involve stakeholders which include local CSOs, NGOs and government line departments and develop synergies with them. This helps in enhancing the visibility of the project and also reduces duplication of activities.
- Expanding resource and donor base: We always engage new donors and stakeholders in our programs and we have multiple funding sources, which includes membership fees and funding from individuals and institutional grants from donors.
Review and Editing: Read the proposal again and again so that you can reduce occurrence of mistakes. Be sure that the proposal is clear and easy to understand. Have your proposal read by two-three to eliminate all sorts of errors in the text. Many organizations also get their proposals reviewed by a cold reader (a person who was not involved in the project writing). This sort of a review helps you in improving the quality of the proposal. Once all the necessary changes have been incorporated you can submit the proposal to the identified donor agency.