If you’re an NGO, fund-raising can be a tedious endeavor, especially in the beginning when your NGO is still trying to build up its reputation. The process takes time and resources, but you can increase your probability of landing a sponsor by making a strong funding proposal. A clear, professional funding proposal not only delivers your mission and key message to a potential investor, but also helps you build a better understanding of how you will achieve your objectives, and improve outcomes. This in turn improves the evaluation of your proposal and makes it stand out amongst competing funding requests.
The level of details in the proposals should depend on various factors such as duration of project, size of budget, complexity of plans, number of implementation locations, and stage of engagement with sponsors (early vs. final submission). However, it is advisable that the following elements be included to make a strong funding proposal:
1. Organization Overview:
This includes answers to questions like: When was your organization founded? Who are the people behind it? What are the sectors you typically work in? Are there other similar projects you might have done in the past? This part is meant to focus on convincing the sponsor of your conviction about your cause.
2. Project Charter:
This is the summary of the project. Project charters should concisely capture all important information about the project. Several senior executives may look at only the charter of various applicants and decide to dive deeper or not. A good project charter should have the basic information regarding the organization including, but not limited to selecting key performance indicators (KPIs), defining targets and baseline, etc. Read more about how to select the right KPIs in detail.
3. Current situation:
An assessment of the current situation must be done and clearly presented. Needs that would improve the current situation should be identified.
A thorough analysis of the people and stakeholders who stand to benefit from your efforts must be done. It should be clearly stated how these people or stakeholders are getting benefited through your project. It is always helpful to quantify the benefits your project will be providing to them. You should also include some key statistics if possible.
In more detailed proposals it may also be helpful to include results of studies or surveys you may have conducted to understand the existing situation.
4. Solution and Rationale:
You should provide a solution to address the needs identified in point 1. Here you need to present your hypothesis – how you are going to address the identified needs. Construct a logical mechanism depicting where your organization will step in, and what it will do to make a difference. Moreover, you need to answer the more important question of why you think the approach showcased by you is going to work. You must provide reasons for the same, i.e. the rationale behind coming up with this solution, and how are you going to measure the true impact of your approach?
Again, in more detailed proposals, it would be helpful to share own experience in a similar situation. When that is not handy, it may be helpful to attach case studies showcasing similar successful approaches.
5. Execution plan:
A detailed execution plan is an important part of a project proposal, and it is also the one where many NGOs lose out. A well thought- out and properly presented execution plan reaffirms the faith of a sponsor in the project.
You can start off by listing all the activities that will be undertaken as part of the project and then divide similar activities into one group (work stream). There should be clear timelines set for each activity along with the owner/ manager/ executioner of each particular activity, its budget, and deliverable. Read more about how to create the perfect execution plan.
Without doubt, budget planning is the most crucial part of your project proposal, you must be doubly sure about the kind of numbers you showcase here. Having the passion and drive for the cause, and an execution plan is not enough in itself for a sponsor who’s being prospected to put some hard cash into the system, they must also know what exactly is going to happen with their funds. Read about the most important things to keep in mind while planning your budget.
7. Sustainability of solution
Some projects are executed for a limited time while others create infrastructure or systems or organizations that would continue to exist even after the duration of the project. One example of this are the several thousand toilets that have been built under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. For such projects, you must include why and how you see operations being sustained for the continued benefit of the associated people and stakeholders. A sustainable project which will provide continued benefit to the community/ beneficiaries is more likely to get more funded.
8. Supporting Documents
Most sponsors will have specific requirements on what supporting documents they need but the commonly requested ones are pre-attached with a good funding proposal
- NGO/Society/Trust Registration certificate
- PAN card
- 80G certificate
- 35AC certificate
- FCRA certificate (if available)
- Income tax return and audit reports (last 3 years, if available)
Apart from the elements mentioned above, there are a few things to keep in mind while drafting your project proposal:
- Use clear and plain language and if you use technical jargon, make sure to include definitions/explanation
- The proposal should be professional- looking. This includes proper formatting and language
- The proposal should be of the right length