Grant proposals can play a huge role for certain NGOs. Therefore it’s important to know the correct format, and how to maximize your grant writing to capitalize on every opportunity for funding. Here we’ll take a look at some of the good practices you can implement straight away.
Understand the requirement
This may sound obvious, but it can be easy to get into a routine of writing grants in a particular format and using that same format no matter what information is actually needed. The documents needed initially can vary, from simply a concept note to a full blown project proposal and everything in-between. Read and list all the requirements of the application. Only provide what is asked for, as lots of unrequested documents, no matter how proud you are of them, will just likely annoy the recipient.
The grant process is generally separated into 2 stages:
- Stage 1: Concept Note or online application. Online application asks questions about your project such as what is the project you are looking to raise funds for is about. What will your project do?
- Stage 2: Project Proposal which includes detailed information about your project idea is asked once your project has been shortlisted.
Grant application will include the following important elements, and even if not all of it is initially required, it probably will be at a later date in some form.
Concept Note or Application
When you are looking for grants, you are looking for a grant for a particular project not for your organization. This is very important to understand and distinguish between grants and donations.
Grants fund a particular project, whereas donations are given to organizations, people, specific event etc.
Grant applications would either require you to submit a concept note or fill in the online application.
At this point it is very important to have your project idea set out. Understand the goals, objectives and outcomes and how will those outcomes be measured. For example, your project is to train youth to find work in the agriculture sector:
- Project goal is to influence on decreasing youth unemployment in the specific country
- Key project objective is to raise qualifications and skill set of unemployed youth in agriculture sector order to increase youth employability
- Project expected outcome: five trainings delivered to 100 youth in the project period
- Indicators of achievement: Measurement of what percentage of trained youth found employment in agriculture sector
Only well presented and carefully planned projects may be shortlisted. Therefore, to increase your grant funding success make sure you have proper answers to all the donors questions including a sound budget.
Once your grant application is accepted, you will be asked to submit your project proposal. This is the roadmap of your project, outlining Who, What, How, When and Where of your activities including indicators of achievement. Donors need to know how will you measure your project’s success.
Below outlines several important elements of the project proposal, however, if you are not familiar in writing project proposals get training on how to write project proposals or assign and learn from an specialist on how to structure your project proposal.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you find the right expert to work on your project proposal or organize training for your organization to get trained in writing winning proposals. Getting the training is a far more sustainable solution if you are an NGO that has many projects that require funding at some point time. Having your own staff trained will increase the efficiency of in your proposal writing and success of your grant applications.
First impressions count. It might not always be fair, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Your cover letter is your chance to make an initial impression. The feeling the recipient has at the end of reading it will be carried into the more technical documents he/she reads afterwards. If it is longwinded and flat it will create little to no impression, or even worse, a bad one.
So what should you do to give your cover letter some teeth?
- Be succinct: Clearly introduce yourself and state the purpose of the proposal. When you edit your letter get rid of all the unnecessary words.
- Convey passion: Whenever possible, talk directly to funding agency to make it more personal. Tell them why this project matters. Make them care.
- Be confident: You will get a lot further if people believe in you. This is far easier for them to do if you believe in yourself. Pick the language you use to reflect this. Don’t say ‘I would like to raise x for’, say ‘I am going to raise x for’.
Finish on a polite note. Thank them for their consideration.
In terms of succinctness, tone and purpose the executive summary is probably best viewed as a continuation of your cover letter, even if it will be seen as a separate document. This is where you clearly and accurately state the basics of what you’re asking for. How you will implement the project and the results you expect to achieve. It is often best to write this towards the end of the process, as you can highlight all the key points from other areas of your proposal and include them here.
The length of this can vary greatly depending on your actual project, but we’d recommend it to be no longer than a page. A lot of projects only require a few succinct paragraphs.
Be as transparent and upfront as you can.
Need Statement/Goals And Objectives
This is far more technical than the previous parts. If you’ve done a good job so far they should reach this point eager to find out more, and this is where you give them more.
Here you can explain the full project, including all the technical aspects and potential problems you have already solved. You can elaborate on the practical side of the difference your project can make. Stress the importance of the problem you’re working to help with, and why you’ve chosen the planned solutions. Show the human element and the positive practical results your project will create. You can include statistics and research that supports the path you’re proposing. Refer to studies of experts in the field. You can also present your own data supporting your decisions.
Quantify your goals and what you hope to achieve.
While this part can be a lot more detailed try to minimise industry specific jargon. You want to be detailed, but not so technical they can’t understand half of what’s written. Remember the reader probably doesn’t work in your area of specialty. Keep the language simple and the points clear.
This is where you can break down the specific methods you will use to deliver the objectives. The methods should fall in line with the objectives and the resources you’re requesting in your budget. You can also highlight the roles of key personnel in helping to achieve the objectives. If any specific method you are using has several alternatives, then explain why you opted for the method you did and back your thoughts up with data and evidence.
The method should be presented in chronological order, so as the reader progresses down the page they are progressing in time towards achieving your goals.
You can also create a list of all the machinery and resources you will need, or incorporate the plant and machinery into the timeline as and when the need for it will arise.
Once the above is complete you can read through it looking for any parts that are out of order, or just feel disjointed in some way.
Here you can explain what data you will record on an ongoing basis, and how they will be able to measure the amount of good their dollar has done.
Here you can list all of the other investors, grants and sponsors who already have a level of commitment to the project. You can also provide any additional information for future funding if the project could end up longer term.
Just like its namesake on your company website, this is where you can provide a history of your organization, including any relevant personal history, They need to know why you can be trusted with their funds. Whether you inspire this trust using past experience or an impressive board overseeing everything, you can use this space to help instill confidence in your NGO’s ability to deliver.
This short budget should include all your income and expenditure forecasts for the project, and be as comprehensive as possible.
You can include any other relevant information here at the end of the proposal. Some of this may just be information you have referenced to in the proposal itself, while some of it may be additional information they have specifically requested. Perform a final read through to ensure you’re happy with the way it flows, and the way it represents your project. If you’re not then edit the relevant place accordingly. If you are happy with everything then get sending.
Get some more tips and tricks or help on how to prepare your Cover Letter, Concept Note or Applications and projects by contacting Maximpact at email@example.com