Before Writing a Proposal

Before we start writing a proposal, it is important for us 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 the 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 the field and in literature, before developing the actual proposal. But not many NGOs are lucky enough to avail such an opportunity.

The Project Stakeholders

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 the proposal. They are:

  1. The Proposing Organization/s or the Proponent: This could be just one NGO or a group of NGOs applying for the project to the donor.
  2. 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.
  3. The Donor Agency: Wherever possible, it will be useful to take inputs from the donor. Informal invitations for proposals, the donor may discourage any contact with the proposing organizations. However, in other situations where the donor has requested for a one-to-one proposal, it will be a good idea to have several meetings with this stakeholder and note down information carefully. It will also help to research donor priorities while conceiving the proposal idea.

What you need to know about your donor

  • Aid priorities and issues of the donor
  • The donor‟s country strategy paper (if any)
  • Proposal Guidelines
  • Previously funded projects and programs

Writing about your NGO

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 However, this information may be sometimes outdated.

You may have forgotten to add an important NGO activity.

Besides, many times, there are facts about our organizations which we ourselves are

unaware of. We do quite a lot of research on the beneficiaries and the donor agency while writing the proposal, but we hardly see the necessity of researching our own organization to present the best picture of our institution to the donor.

To ensure that there is thorough knowledge about the organization in the proposal, it is important not only to copy information from previous documents but also to 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.