Essentially, a concept note is a summarized version of a project proposal and must include a brief description of the project goal/s, objectives and overall approach or strategies to be followed to achieve the stated goal and objectives. It must display an outline or framework of the development program that you are seeking funds for.
It must be kept in mind that your concept note is the first opportunity to make the first impression on a donor. The preparation and submission of a concept note give your NGO a chance to distinguish your project idea and organization from the rest and capture the attention of the donor while giving you the flexibility for detailing your project at later stages of proposal submission. The purpose of a concept note from the donor’s perspective is to assess which ones align with their priorities and are likely to be selected for the funding and eliminate the rest.
The length of a concept note depends on several factors, the first one being the donor’s requirement. Certain donors, funding organizations, foundations and even CSR arms of corporations have a format for concept notes that they adhere to. In these cases, your concept note would get rejected in the first stage itself if it does not adhere to the template, timeline, word limits, and other criteria. But in other cases, many donors and funding bodies do not have any templates for the concept note stage and you can submit yours in any format you prefer. If there is no set template, ideally your concept note must be between 3 to 5 pages long. A 3-5 page length allows you to clearly and briefly describe your project and its objectives, while also leaving enough scope to detail it in the proposal submission stage.