Monday, 7 May 2012

How to Write a Proposals to get Funds for NGO Prt2

Before we start writing a proposal, it is important to do some research. No matter how small or big the project is, some kind of references to existing literature or data should be made. Usually, it is expected that the NGO has enough information at hand about the problem or project before writing the proposal. Yet, NGOs have to gather all related information about the issue they are working on and the sit down to write the proposal. In some cases, donors sponsor pre-proposal research so that organizations have enough evidence, both at field and in literature, before developing the actual proposal. While planning the proposal, it is ideally believed that all stakeholders have been consulted or involved in the process. There are generally three main categories of stakeholders involved in the process of writing a proposal.

The Proposing Organization/s
This could be just one NGO or a group of NGOs applying for the project to the donor.

The Community
The most important stakeholder for whom the project is conceived. Community members or  beneficiaries or the target group has to be involved in the proposal planning process so that the project reflects strong qualities of participation and community ownership.

The Donor
Wherever possible, it will be useful to take inputs from the donor. In formal invitations for  proposals, the donor may discourage any contact with the proposing organizations.

However, in other situations where donor has requested for a one-to-one proposals, it will be a good idea to have several meetings with this stakeholder and note down information. It will also help researching the donor priorities while conceiving the proposal. It will also be a useful activity to go through the following information about the donor:

  • Funding priorities and issues
  • Country Strategy/Policy Paper 
  • Proposal guidelines
  • Previously funded programmes 

New individuals working on proposals in a particular NGO may face problems in writing about organizational background. They prefer to just copy previous information into this particular section of the proposal. However, this information may be outdated. Besides, many times, there are facts about our organization which we ourselves are unaware of. We do quite a lot of research on the beneficiaries and the donor while writing the proposal, but we hardly see the necessity of researching our own organization to present the best picture of ours to the donor.

To ensure that there is thorough knowledge about the NGO in the proposal, it is important not only to copy information from previous documents, but also carry out discussions with colleagues about the project. The SWOT tool comes handy here when we sit with our colleagues and find out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of the organization. Once this framework is ready, it will be quite easy for us to write the proposal and answer the sharp questions of any proposal format.

A general proposal format consists of the following parts:
1. Problem Statement
2. Rationale or Justification for implementing the Project
3. Project Goal & Objectives
4. Strategy & Activities
5. Results: Outputs and Outcomes
6. Budget

This basic format of a proposal has expanded covering many concepts and issues, confronting project funding and project implementation. As new experiences are gathered by donors in project implementation and funding processes, new explanations are sought from the applicant through the proposal.

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