Project Proposals or Submissions

Basic components of a project proposal or submission:

1. Introduction, background, or rationale

Answering the question – what has led to this request and project proposal?

• Provide the history, the context, any research or needs assessment

2. Project description

Answering the question – what do you want to offer, do, or create?

  • Start with a title (clear, concrete and catchy)
  • Indicate the time frame it is taking place within
  • The target audience or clientele
  • The methodology or approach
  • Resources required
  • Community organizations involved
  • Roles that will need to be filled and by whom if you know (paid andunpaid job roles required)
  • The structure of the project

3. Projected budget

Answering the question – how much will this cost? Who else is contributing to the project and how much for what expenses?

  • A mathematical concrete exercise of breaking down expense items, estimating costs, and identifying the revenue sources (both actual dollars and in-kind)
  • Indicate if confirmed or pending

4. Outcomes and evaluation

Answering the question – what is the plan to measure success and outcomes or results?

• Indicate the methods that will be used evaluation and record- keeping (i.e.: survey, interviews, pre and post assessments, recommend including drafts of survey, questionnaires.

5. Supporting or supplemental material

Answering the question – Is there any additional evidence or supporting material which can support / endorse or strengthen this project?

  • Research (local or similar communities), needs assessment findings (evidence of need or potential and often a criteria can be community-driven)
  • Examples of similar projects or models that succeeded elsewhere
  • Examples of applying orgs projects managed successfully in the past
  • Non-written material (audio and visual)
  • Letters of support or endorsement
  • Job descriptions, draft contracts/agreements, survey drafts

Challenges in proposal writing

To be detailed and concrete and the same time as succinct and clear (nothing extraneous)

  • TIP: After writing it give it to someone who knows nothing about the project to read the proposal and see if they understand it and or have any questions or suggestions on how to make it clearer.

To make it compelling (retain the passion-factor)

  • TIP: Audio tape your self being interviewed by someone who does not know about the project and talk about it, replay and use some of the phrases and descriptions in the written description or narrative.

Diversify and leverage support (broaden the base of stakeholders & funders)

  • TIP: This promotes a certain kind of strength and fosters a sense of shared ownership and shared responsibility.

Consider the future and sustainability

TIP: Think about and reference or speak to in the proposal what you see the future of the project being if beyond time frame funded.

TIP: Speak to if this a one-time project, a pilot or demonstration, or a longer term initiative? What would be the sustainability plan? Where would the long term home of the project or program be?

Lessons learned over time

  • If you have really “done your homework” and believe in the project PERSIST, persistence can pay off!
  • Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, in other words have a plan B & C
  • Work on project and proposal development in the context of community and in a team. Don’t do it in isolation, designate roles or sections in order to manage personnel time effectively, however make sure there is one consistent “voice” and style of writing throughout the proposal
  • Take the time to learn about the main interests and the processes of funders you are applying to. Cultivate relationships.
  • Make use of the time and expertise that you may be able to access in the application process (consider seriously the suggestions or advise the funding or grant program officers or consultants may offer)
  • Use their language align with their priorities to the extent that you naturally and honestly can.

Most funders today value

  • Community or constituency buy-in, investment and/or ownership
  • Transparency (honesty)
  • Maintaining the integrity of their processes, standards and ethical codes
  • Relationships and communication (at times collaboration and partnership)
  • Information and Involvement
  • Working compatibly with yet distinctly from other funders
  • Comprehension of their realities and their limitations


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