Project Funding Proposal

PROJECT CONCEPT
A concept note is a summary of a proposal containing a brief description of the idea of the project and the objectives to be pursued. Concept notes are also submitted to donors without a formal call for proposals, who prefer to understand a project through a brief
summary rather than a full-fledged proposal document. The Concept Paper is typically a 10- to 30-page document that translates the project needs into clear, consistent requirements, actions and milestones. It clarifies and explains the purpose of the project in relation to business needs; it defines its scope (what the project is about), targets and delivery dates around milestones; and establishes the project management tools and methods.
It is a powerful tool that greatly increases the chances of success of any project, in particular the more complex ones. A good Concept Paper should align the organization to support the
project leader and the team responsible for the execution of a project. It is also a key activity to develop the project leader’s capability.

The Key Elements of the Concept Paper
The fundamental elements of a Concept Paper are project vision, project scope, project targets, timeline and milestones and project management.
1. Project Vision (purpose and objectives)

  • The first section of the Paper articulates the purpose and objectives of the project and defines the specific problem to be solved. It should define the strategic business issues involved and explain how the project will contribute to solving them (that’s why the project sponsor is often a senior manager
  • The project vision could begin with some background information and a brief history of the topic at hand, its relevance to the company, and the main reasons behind the new project based on current needs. It should contain the information necessary to get started.

2. Project Scope
The Concept Paper should next define the project scope, the specific flow of activities involved, the organizational boundaries as well as the end-to-end processes.

3. Project Targets
A few critical key performance indicators (KPIs) should be established, the current performance level defined whenever possible, together with the future performance level expected at a given time. KPIs should reflect the desired state for the project. This also includes

4. Timeline & Milestones
The project’s timeline (the cadence of the work) is defined by a number of key deliveries (milestones) – the fundamental steps in the process (they should be tied to specific dates) upon which the success of the project depends.

5.Project Management: methods and techniques, roles and responsibilities Concept Paper can detail how the project is going to be managed through different methods and techniques, as well as the final team, with roles and responsibilities laid out for each person
(including senior-management sponsors and key stakeholders, support functions personnel, etc).

6. Other possible key elements
Additional elements defined in the Concept Paper could include: major risks and challenges, connections with other company projects, specific assumptions and definitions about the business implications, or support-function requirements

PROJECT PROPOSAL
A project proposal is a detailed description of a series of activities aimed at solving a certain problem. Generally, a project proposal contains a detailed presentation of the following:

  • Project Justification (why the project)
  • Project Goal and Objectives (what the project intends to achieve)
  • Project Methodology (how the project will be carried out)
  • Project Activities (what must be carried out)
  • Project Implementation Timeline
  • Human, Material and Financial Resources needed to execute the project
  • To secure outside funding
  • Donor needs a coherent plan to know your organization and what you are going to do with the funds

Types of Proposals
1. Solicited proposals
Proposals submitted in response to a specific call issued by a sponsor.
 Request for Proposals (RFP)
 Request for Quotations (RFQ) (usually have specific requirements for format and technical content, and may specify certain award terms and conditions.)
 Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) are not considered formal solicitations.
i. Preproposals (EOI, LOI Concept Notes/Paper)
Preproposals are usually in the form of a letter of intent or brief abstract. After the preproposal is reviewed, the sponsor notifies the investigator if a full proposal is warranted.
ii. Continuation or non-competing proposals
These confirm the original proposal and funding requirements of a multi-year project which the sponsor has already provided funding for an initial period (normally one year).

2. Unsolicited Proposals (Grantee Initiated-Need+ Donor Interest)
Proposals submitted to a sponsor that has not issued a specific solicitation but is believed by the investigator to have an interest in the subject.
i. Renewal or competing proposals
Proposals which request continued support for an existing project that is about to end. These requests–from the sponsor’s viewpoint–generally have the same status as an unsolicited
proposal.
ii. Supplemental project proposal is required when you need to ask for extra resources for a project (beyond those originally proposed). Meant to justify the extra resources and produce updated estimates of what the project will now take to complete. If the project’s scope is being increased to have a further reach then this will read as an extension of the original document with a focus on explaining the benefits of expanding the scope.

Effective Grant Proposal
1. Explains what the donor is actually funding
2. Explains how the project will fit in with other existing projects and programs
3. Clearly identifies and explains who will be the beneficiaries of the project
4. Explains how the project’s objectives meet clearly identified need/s – ‘who said it was a
need?’ – Evidence (refer to statistics, reports, etc.)
5. Effectively links objectives with overall goals/aims
6. Convinces the donor that the project is ‘value for money’ – cost/benefit relationship.
7. Convinces the donor that there is a high likelihood that the project will succeed within the specified timeframe.
8. Takes into account gender and environment issues and how the project will work with the community i.e. facilitates community participation.
9. Addresses issues of sustainability and impact-what effect will the project have in the short, medium and long-term and which of the projects outputs (achievements) will be sustainable after the project is completed.

PROCESS OF DEVELOPING PROJECT FUNDING PROPOSAL
Steps in Proposal Writing:
The following steps are provided to help the proposal writer understand the steps that go into preparing a proposal and to share some advice that others have found useful.
Step 1: Gather Intelligence
Intelligence gathering is the ongoing collection of information about donors, funding opportunities, other organisations and the political environment. This process will help your organisation:
1. Identify prospective donors.
2. Determine whether to compete for a call for proposals.
3. Monitor market trends, such as the diseases or technical areas donors are prioritizing.
4. Identify competitor organisations.
There are three steps to intelligence gathering:
 Scan: Cast a wide net to see what kinds of donors and/or proposal opportunities exist or are to be released in the future.
 Track: Identify the specific donors or opportunities the organisation would like to prioritize for closer consideration.
 Focus: Make a decision to engage a donor or pursue a proposal/grant application.
When selecting which opportunities to pursue, ensure they align with the vision and mission of the organisation.
There are various strategies an organisation can use to gather intelligence, many of which include:
 Researching donors, competitor organisations and solicitation on the Internet.
 Conducting market research studies
 Attending national/international sector conferences, summits or meetings.
 Participating in social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Step 2: Complete Risk Assessment
This step will focus on how your organisation should determine whether to invest in a certain grant or proposal opportunity. Typically, donors issue a written request to solicit proposals in a competitive, transparent manner for interested and qualified parties (see example in step 1 above). These requests come out through different funding mechanisms including:
 Concept Paper /Expressions of Interest (EOI),
 Request for Proposals (RFP)
 Request for Applications (RFA)
 Request for Quotations (RFQ)
 Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and
 Annual Program Statement (APS
Your organisation should consider the following factors before pursuing a particular call for proposals
 The degree the call for proposal aligns with your organisation’s mission and vision.
 The degree of interest for your organisation in region/zone.
 The degree of interest in the technical area or approach
 The degree of interest in the donor
 The likelihood of successful implementation
 The likelihood of leading to other new opportunities
 The impact on other current and/or future projects
 The probability of success
While some call for proposals may be riskier investments than others, your organisation should weigh the costs and benefits to every announcement or call.

Step 3: Analyse A Call or Request for Proposals
Once a Call for Proposals has been released and your organisation has decided to respond to the call, the first step in developing a grant proposal is to critically read through the information provided in the call. Before even beginning to write a proposal, every person on the proposal development team should read through the call at least once. While reading through a call, make notes of the following information:
 The stated results that the donor is seeking
 The program components
 Any request for key personnel
 Available funding and project duration
 Deadline for submission
 Submission requirements
 Evaluation criteria
 Other key information and requirements
Many proposals are unsuccessful because organisations do not take time to read through the call details carefully resulting submission of proposals missing critical information. The best strategy is to develop an outline of the technical proposal while going through the call details to ensure that the proposal is responding directly to each criterion stated in the call.

Step 4: Manage the Proposal Process
Knowing how to properly manage a proposal process is almost equally as important as knowing how to develop a proposal.
a. The Development Team: The first step is to put together a proposal development team comprising of at least two people: one person responsible for the technical proposal and another in charge of creating the budget. Ideally, your organisation should have a larger proposal development team consisting of a finance officer, technical expert, human resource manager, and reviewer and proposal manager as outlined below:
 Proposal Manager: Coordinates the proposal development process and responsible for the submission of a responsive winning proposal on time.
 Budgeter: Collects budget assumptions from technical/program expert, proposal manager and others and then develops the proposal budget.
 Technical/Program Expert(s): Contributes to the design of the technical strategy and writes some of the technical content.
 Recruiter/Staffing Expert: Reviews staffing requirements of RFP, develops job descriptions, and identifies, interviews and recruits key personnel.
 Writer: Puts the proposal pieces together, edits the content; could also be a technical expert that contributes to the design of technical strategy
 Reviewer: Reviews proposal content; provides feedback and comments for improvement
If it is not possible to have a team, then your organisation need one person to take on the multiple roles described above during a proposal development process.

a. The Proposal Writing Calendar
This calendar should demonstrate key deadlines for each component of a proposal, such as the technical drafts, work plan and timeline, M and E plan, budget and more. When a proposal team develops a calendar, they should start with the formal proposal submission deadline and then work backwards to set all other deadlines. The proposal manager should be responsible for constantly updating the calendar during the proposal development process and ensuring that all members of the proposal development team have access to the calendar.

b. The Internal Proposal Review Process
Proposal managers should always ensure that the people who will be reviewing the proposal are not part of the proposal development team. Ideally, your organisation should have at least two proposal reviewers: one person from outside the organisation and a second within the organisation. Reviewers should be given the RFA/APS, as well as the proposal development calendar, and must be kept informed of when they will be receiving drafts and final versions of the proposal. In general, reviewers should be asking themselves the following questions when reviewing the technical and budget of the proposals:
⦁ Is the technical proposal responsive to donor priorities?
⦁ Is the vision, objectives of the project and the proposed strategies clear and coherent?
⦁ Does the proposal demonstrate depth and knowledge of the country and technical expertise area?
⦁ Is the proposed strategy innovative yet realistic for the situation?
⦁ Does the proposal demonstrate convincingly that the proposed team (partners and staff) is the winning team?
⦁ Does the management plan enable the team to achieve the strategy?
⦁ Format and style: Is the proposal clear, concise and compelling?
⦁ Do the costs look reasonable and realistic to achieve the project objectives?
⦁ Is the budget responsive to the procurement requirements?
⦁ Are there any discrepancies or omissions in the technical proposal?
⦁ Is the budget structured according to current funder’s requirements and trends?

c. The proposal production
The call for proposals will always include information on how eligible organisations should produce and submit a proposal. It is extremely important that your organisation adhere to the requirements listed in the call. Late submission or incorrect format can lead disqualification. Each proposal manager should develop a proposal production check list based on the call for proposal. The proposal manager should go through the checklist carefully before submitting a proposal.

Step 5: Write A Proposal
Grant proposal writing should begin once every person on the proposal development team has read through the call and created the draft technical outline.

Writing a Proposal
Since most religious organisations and projects depend on donor or government funding, knowing how to write a good project proposal can secure funding for your organisation or project.
In this section, we look at how to write a proposal to seek for funds. All funding proposals should be based on an organisation or project’s strategic plan. Before you start you must be clear about the following:
1. Be clear about the goals and purpose of the organisation and the specific objectives of the project (funding a proposal must be based on strategic plan).
2. What exact service you will provide (who is the target team/beneficiaries)
3. What activities do you need to implement and what resources do you need
Besides the above points, here are additional general suggestions:
• Write as simply and clearly as possible. Avoid using slang or phrases that are not commonly understood or that could be easily misunderstood.
• Keep the proposal as short as possible while still maintaining the substance. Remember to try to match your interests with those of foundation.
• Avoid broad or sweeping statements. Issues, problems and needs should be stated as accurately and factually as possible.
• Test the proposal on others not familiar with it before submission.
• Be prepared to rethink and rewrite the proposal.

IMPORTANCE OF PROJECT CONCEPT PAPER AND PROJECT PROPOSAL
The overall objective of the Course in Resource Mobilization and Proposal Writing is to enable the learner to mobilize a diverse range of financial and non-financial resources for their organization.
1. It can help you secure funding
Raising capital is an important first step for any type of business, but if your business is smaller in size, your business proposal will likely play a bigger role in helping you attract investors or secure outside funding. Writing a well-researched business proposal will help you demonstrate to prospective investors how investing in your business could benefit them, what makes your ideas or concepts unique, and why people will want to buy from you.
2. Project Understanding
A project proposal outlines the purpose and scope of a project. This is helpful before a project takes place since it ensures both parties agree about what the project itself will include. It states to the decision-maker or stakeholder that the service provider understands the scope of the project. This helps establish trust between the parties to facilitate a transactional agreement.
3. Guide project Implementation – The proposal serves as a key management tool for the implementation of projects. The proposal and budget should follow a clear logic, and provide adequate description of activities and expected outputs to help a project manager implement the project. It also assists with identifying staff required to carry out project activities. The expected outputs and outcomes must be clear and achievable.
4. Establish Credibility
A project proposal should be seen as a sales tool that helps establish credibility. It should communicate to the decision-maker or stakeholder that the service provider is capable of completing the project and fulfilling expectations. This is done by detailing how the project will be completed. The project proposal may also include potential risks or complications and how the service provider would overcome those challenges.
5. Propose an Estimated Timeline & Budget
A project proposal also proposes a timeline and budget for the project. While this document is not a formal contract, it provides stakeholders enough information about budget, timeline, and outcomes to determine whether or not to move forward with a project and, if so, to make an informed contractor or vendor decision.
6. Set Expectations
A project proposal also sets expectations for the client relationship. This includes having a mutual understanding of deliverables, timelines, and budget. While the project proposal is not a contractual agreement, it does set a preliminary agreement that the details in the project proposal will be put into the contract if the project moves forward.
7. Accountability – The proposal is the document that will be used to hold organisations accountable against in terms of what has delivered. The project manager will need to report against what is stated in the proposal, so it is critical that the content is feasible programmatically and financially, and achievable within the approved time frame.

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