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How to Prepare Your Proposal in under 60 Minutes
How to Prepare Your Proposal in under 60 Minutes

How to Prepare Your Proposal in under 60 Minutes

A proposal is an important document that represents your organization and helps you to raise

A proposal is an important document that represents your organization and helps you to raise funds for the causes you really care for. Writing proposals for funding is one of the most crucial aspects for any NGO. No matter how big or small your organization is you cannot get away from writing a project proposal.

Proposal Writing is not a child’s play, but it is also not rocket science either. Seasoned campaigners do it within a short span of time. So how do they do it? What makes them fast and good at the same time? This guide will brief you on how to be quick and effective to prepare a proposal lightning fast. There certainly is no shortcut to write a quality proposal, but there are certain tips that can help you in preparing your proposals in a short time.

This guide discusses some important and effective tips that will surely help you in reducing the time you spend in writing proposals.

The guide has been divided into three sections:

Section 1: Pre- Proposal Preparations

Section 2: Proposal Drafting

Section 3: Best Practices for writing a proposal in 60 minutes.

Section 1: Pre-Proposal Preparations

Section 1: Pre-Proposal Preparations When you intend to write a proposal in a short period say

When you intend to write a proposal in a short period say for example 60 minutes or less, it is very important for you to have a well defined plan to achieve your target. With only 60 minutes in hand you cannot afford to waste even a single second and therefore you require investing time in what we call “Pre-Proposal Preparations”.

As the name suggests “Pre-Proposal Preparations” refer to all the necessary planning activities you need to complete before you start the actual process of writing the proposal. Also remember that the time taken to complete this set of activities is not included in the 60 minute duration.

To complete your proposal within the stipulated time, you will have to devote some time in preparations, so as to write a proposal in just 60 minutes without compromising on the quality of the proposal.

Some

of

the

questions

you

will

have

to

answer

during

the

planning

stage

include:

What is the problem you intend to solve? During the preparation phase, make sure that you identify a single problem that your project would solve. Many a time’s organizations get over enthusiastic when writing a proposal and tend to include multiple problems in their project proposal. To avoid confusion and wastage of time it is important for you to select just one major problem that your project would resolve. Selecting just one major problem for the proposal helps you to focus clearly only on a single solution thereby saving time. Say for example your organization works in the health sector, then identify just one specific health related health issue (Maternal Health, Awareness on HIV, Child and nutrition etc.).

How do you intend to solve the given problem?

 
Once you have finalized the problem that you want to address, look for the set

Once you have finalized the problem that you want to address, look for the set of best practices that can help to reduce or mitigate the problem. For identifying the project activities and approach for the project you will have to conduct research on the current state of the issue and potential solutions. This will help you determine a suitable strategy to solve the identified problem. During this stage look at various alternatives that are available and then analyze them to finalize the best option that suits your organization. Information collected at this stage will be used by you to describe the Problem/Background section and strengthen your case. You should also highlight and collect information and facts/data that you will be using in your proposal, this will save time when you start drafting the proposal.

What is the Scope of the Project? The next important step during the preparation stage is to define the scope of the project. Scope of the project means that you will have to define the following key aspects of your proposed project:

Target Area (Geographical Coverage)

Project Beneficiaries (Gender, Social Class, Age etc.)

Project duration

Project Activities (Research, Awareness, Training, Construction, Marketing etc.)

Estimated budget

Timeline (Work plan)

Resources required

Team Roles and Responsibilities

Key milestones of the project

Once you have defined the scope of the project, you are in a better position to identify

suitable donor agencies that would fund a project that you will be proposing.

• Who are the donors that you will be applying to? The likelihood of your

Who are the donors that you will be applying to? The likelihood of your proposal getting funds largely depends on whether you submit

the proposal to the right donors. It is important for you to identify donors whose priorities and funding criteria suits your organization. Some questions that may help you in identifying prospects are:

Which donor agencies are actively funding in your locality?

Does the donor agency fund organizations like yours?

Do you qualify for submitting a proposal to the agency?

What are the guidelines for applying?

Do you have sufficient time to submit the proposal?

The best way to locate donors is to conduct an internet search to find out various details about them. You can also use your donor database to identify suitable donors for

submitting the proposal.

Who all will be part of the proposal drafting team? When you have limited time to develop the proposal, it is better that you form a team to take care of different sections of the proposal. At this point remember not to have too many people in the drafting team, as coordination between the team members will only lead to delays and wastage of time. When drafting a proposal in just 60 minutes, you can have a maximum of three people in the proposal drafting team. These 3 people may have the following tasks:

Proposal Drafting Lead- This person is responsible for working on the main aspects of the proposal i.e. the project description.

Proposal Drafting Support- This person is responsible for collecting the relevant documents and completing the background information (Organization details, Problem Statement, Annexure etc.)

Finance/Budget Preparer- This person is responsible for creating the budget.

• What will be the format of your proposal? There are several templates and formats

What will be the format of your proposal? There are several templates and formats that can be used to draft the project proposal. Choose a simple format that can effectively describe your case. Do not go for a very exhaustive and complicated format. Remember that no matter which format you chose, it should cover the following aspects:

Executive Summary

Background

Project Description

Budget

Team Description

Organization Details

Please note that the above mentioned section heads are suggestive in nature; you may look at different formats that are available online and then finalize the format that suits your project.

As mentioned in the start of the section, the process of proposal writing will be relatively easy, if you have invested time on the preparations. Always remember, Preparation is the Key to a successful proposal; as the time you invest in the initial planning stage will help you to save time in the actual drafting stage. Many organizations do not plan well and then get stuck after initiating the proposal drafting process. To avoid delays and obstructions in the proposal drafting stage, it is always advisable to devote time to develop a suitable plan of action.

By the end of the pre- proposal preparation stage you should have the following things ready.

Suitable literature to support your case / Research on problem area

Relevant data to support your problem statement

List of 2-3 potential donors

CVs and resume of team members

Organization Profile

Proposal drafting team

Proposal Template

Section 2: Proposal Drafting

• Proposal Template Section 2: Proposal Drafting Now, the time has come when you have to

Now, the time has come when you have to start the actual process of drafting the proposal. Each step that will be highlighted here is meant to give a general direction and can be judiciously used to create a proposal. You may choose to skip any step basis your applicability.

1. Executive Summary: This section is the summary of the project and presents a snapshot 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, in the executive summary itself. 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. Tips for writing an excellent executive summary are as follows:

Be concise and clear

Write this section at last

Focus on the benefits of the project

Use the right tone

Do not include too much data in the executive summary

Make it exciting, so that the reader wants to read further.

2. Project Background: This is an important section of the proposal as it presents the

2. Project 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. While writing the rationale of the proposal it is critical that you quote facts and figures as evidence to your problem. These facts can be from data that your organization has collected or can be from research articles etc. 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?

3. Project Description: After you have described the problem and the context of why you want

to solve the problem the main body of your proposal starts. This section of the proposal will

have important elements of the proposal and will describe the project goal, objectives, methodology, impacts and project team.

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. You can use words like decrease, deliver, develop, establish, improve, increase, produce, and provide while writing the proposal.

The following tips will help you to framing a quality Goal

Avoid vagueness

Link the Goal with the problem statement

▪ Goal should be consistent with your organizations mission and vision statement ▪ Use simple

Goal should be consistent with your organizations mission and vision statement

Use simple language to write a goal

Keep only one goal for a proposal

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. 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/Methodology: This section details the plan for how the project objectives will be achieved. It usually starts with a description of the overall approach. In general this section will have two broad subsections:

o

Project Strategy: Strategy refers 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.

o

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.

Considering you intend, to finish writing the proposal in just 60 minutes, we suggest that you write bullet points on your overall approach to the project. Another way to reduce the time in writing this section is to put down the various activities and approach that you will be adopting can be written in form of a grid/Matrix.

Table of activities

S.No Main Activity   Tasks Duration 1. Awareness 1. Development of communication 1 s t

S.No

Main Activity

 

Tasks

Duration

1.

Awareness

1.

Development of communication

1 st quarter of the project

Generation

material.

2. Organizing Awareness Rallies

 

3. Conducting street plays and Shows.

2.

Capacity Building

1. Conducting counseling sessions

2 nd and 3 rd quarter of the project

2. Conducting Motivational sessions

3. Training and Demonstration

 

4. Exposure Visit

3.

Enterprise

1. Developing forward and backward

4 th quarter of the project

Development

linkages.

2. Seller Buyer Agreements.

 

3. Open bank account of group

4. Apply for loan

5. Establish collective action

Another way of describing the project activities is to include a flow diagram representing the process flow of the various project activities.

Awareness Generation Mass Awareness Campaign Street Plays
Awareness Generation
Mass Awareness Campaign
Street Plays
Capacity Building Training workshops Field Demonstrations
Capacity Building
Training workshops
Field Demonstrations
Setting up Micro Enterprise

Setting up Micro Enterprise

Establishing market linkages

Formalizing agreements

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.

It is a good practice to make a table showing the project staff along with

It is a good practice to make a table showing the project staff along with the description

of their roles and responsibilities.

S.No

Designation

Role

1

Project Director (1)

Responsible for the overall administration and management of the project. He/she will develop proposals for future funding and manage the other staff.

2

Social Worker (1)

Responsible for mobilization and conducting initial level village meetings and orientation sessions.

3

Trainers (3)

A total of three trainers for conducting training on soft skills, tailoring and jewelry designing.

Project Results: Project proposals should explain all the expected results that will be

achieved by the project. Project results can be divided into three types:

Outputs: These are immediate results obtained after implementing an

activity.

Outcomes: Outcomes are the mid-term results which are not observed

immediately but are felt after some time.

Impact: Impact is usually a long-term result and is usually not achieved

during the life cycle of the project.

Project Costs: Often, the most difficult part of a proposal is budgeting. While developing

the budget involve one of your finance team members and project team members to sit

together and work on a tentative budget. Give this team a brief overview of what all you

want to do in the project so that have an idea to work out the costs. Your budget should

be divided into categories such as salaries, fringe benefits, travel, supplies, and equipment. Make sure

be divided into categories such as salaries, fringe benefits, travel, supplies, and equipment. Make sure to also include any overhead costs (called "indirect costs") that will be associated with the project.

Section 3: Best Practices when drafting a proposal in 60 minutes

The following sections talks about certain guidelines that once should remember when developing a proposal in a short time. These are some best practices that will help you to write the proposal in 60 minute or less.

Limit the proposal to 5 pages: Unless you are required to submit a proposal as part of RFP process, do not go beyond 5 pages. Remember that it is not the number of pages that define the success of a proposal, but it is what you write in those pages is what really matters. When you have limited time it is always better that you set a limit of 4-5 pages to describe your proposal.

S.No

Proposal Section

Page Length

1.

Executive Summary

Half a Page

2.

Introduction/ Project Background

One Page

3.

Project Description

Three Pages

4.

Budget

One Page

Your proposal is complete in all respects: Just because you have a limit to the number of pages and you are writing the proposal in a short time does not mean that you can leave the proposal incomplete. Make sure that you proposal is complete and is able to describe the various components i.e. (What, Why and How) of the project. The proposal should logically flow from one section to another giving the donor a clear understanding of what your proposal intends to do.

• Use Info graphs/Figures: While describing the various sections of your proposal, try to use

Use Info graphs/Figures: While describing the various sections of your proposal, try to use graphs, figures and tables wherever possible. Including figures in the project proposal not only helps you to describe the project in a better way; it also reduces the time you would put in writing lengthy sections and sub sections. Use of flow charts and diagrams helps the reader in understanding the context in a better way and also makes the proposal more appealing.

Include Appendix: If you have a lot of background research papers/data and case studies available that could support your case, include these as appendix. All additional documents and reports should be submitted as appendix and should not be part of the main body of the proposal.

Be specific and to the point: Instead of writing long stories, be very specific and to the point. Write only what is really important and mention the facts that strengthen your case. Write the proposal to convey necessary information to the reader, so that he is able to clearly understand your project proposal. Avoid writing stories and irrelevant things in the proposal, as the reviewers have to go through several proposals your objective should be to make your case clear in a few pages and not bore/overburden them with unnecessary details.

Keep your language simple: Avoid using jargon and use easy to understand language throughout the proposal. The reader/reviewer of the proposal may not necessarily be an expert in the particular field and may not be aware of technical words, so use simple words to explain your problem and solution.

Design the budget with utmost care: Make sure that all budget items meet the funding agency’s requirements. It is important for the project budget to be aligned with the project activities and you should be able to justify for all the costs that you mention.

Your Proposal should be accessible: Your proposal should be in a format that can be opened on accessible on various devices and formats.

Set the right tone: The proposal should be written in a formal yet approachable manner. This means that there should be written in a professional manner and should

be able to explain to the donor that you are intentions are right and you

be able to explain to the donor that you are intentions are right and you are fully dedicated to the cause of the organization.

Pre-Delivery Proofing Checklist: Considering you have written the entire proposal in just 60 minutes you would like to do a final check before sending your proposal. This step may take an additional 10 minutes, but it worthwhile to review the proposal before the final submission. Here is a list of things that you should have a look at:

Check for spelling or grammatical errors: Always run spell and grammar check to ensure that the proposal is free from all sort of errors.

Proposal has all the elements: Make sure that the proposal is complete in all respects and all the sections in the proposal have been written properly.

Relevant documents: Your application has all the necessary (Letter of support, registration documents, letter of authorization etc.) that the donor has asked for.

Timelines and Deliverables are achievable: All the timelines and deliverables that you have mentioned in the proposal should be practical and achievable.

Contact Details: Remember to include contact details of the person who will be responsible from your organization to communicate with the donor. Also include the complete organization contact details including the website and social media links.

Try to follow the above mentioned steps and best practices to write quality proposals in a short time. It may take some time to master the art of writing in a short time, but with practice you are surely going to be a champion of writing proposals in 60 minutes or even less.

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All Right Reserved © fundsforNGOs LLC No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior written permission of fundsforNGOs LLC.

August 23, 2019

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