How to write a proposal


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Presentation Given by Dr. Sharda Maharaj at the 2nd General meeting for the Caribbean Youth environment Network - Trinidad and Tobago Chapter.

Published in: Education, Technology

How to write a proposal

  1. 1. HOW TO WRITE APROPOSALSharda Surujdeo-Maharaj
  2. 2. PROPOSAL Is a written expression of, and proposed solution to, a problem  What is your organisations goals and objectives?  What is the problem?  Why is your organisation the best one to deal with this problem?  How will you efficiently solve the problem? (Time and money)
  3. 3. ORGANIZING WORK Involve your team (one person shouldn‟t write a proposal) Create a checklist – divide up the work Prepare all preliminary information Don‟t bother the funder too much during the preparation process Think of the structure
  4. 4. START-UP WORK Identifying a project idea Looking for a potential funder Studying priorities, guidelines and application forms / previously funded projects Establishing initial contact (organization‟s mission and vision, strategy, structure, team) Creating partnerships
  5. 5. COVER LETTER First thing the funder reads Must engage the reader so (s)he reads the rest of the proposal Personal, to the point, concise Structure: project title, goals and objectives, total amount requested, duration of the project
  6. 6. SUMMARY A succinct, clear synopsis of the project Not more than a page Description of the organization Statement of problem and / or need Project objectives Outline of proposed activities The amount requested
  7. 7. INTRODUCTION Description of the applicant (mission, vision, values, strategic objectives, structure, team) Short list of organization‟s achievements Who are you beneficiaries and partners Why do you apply to this funder?
  8. 8. NEEDS ASSESSMENT What is the problem or need? Describe the problem in relation to your target group Place the problem in a larger context your organizations works in Use figures and concrete examples (case studies) Relate it to the funders guidelines and priorities
  9. 9. OBJECTIVES All objectives should be SMART i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed. Specific - Be precise about what you are going to achieve Measurable - Quantify you objectives Achievable - Are you attempting too much? Realistic - Do you have the resource to make the objective happen (human resources, financial, the right context and opportunities)? Timed - State when you will achieve the objective (within a month? By February 2010?)
  10. 10. METHODS / ACTIVITIES Answer to the question “HOW?” Right place to give details and figures Put activities in a timeline Give reasons why you selected this method Be consistent with overall project goal, objectives and the context Make references to previous use of the method by you or other organizations
  11. 11. OUTCOMES / OUTPUTS Know the difference Outcome: long term result / effect (hard to measure) Output is a very concrete result / product (easily measurable) Provide both outcomes and outputs in a clear structure
  12. 12. EVALUATION PLAN Strategy to measure the success Explanation of the criteria used to measure the success Includes: - quantitative indicators (numbers) - qualitative indicators (contents) - vision of success (what you want to achieve
  13. 13. BUDGET Structure: human resources, purchases, operational costs, activities Clear budget items (how did you come up with the amount you‟ve indicated in the budget line) Explanations to the budget in annex (why you need a particular amount, offers, etc.)
  14. 14. GENERAL FEATURES OF A GOOD PROPOSAL Has clear and itemized objectives: shows clear vision  Generally need a bullet list in bold font of 1-sentence objectives (1 to 4) early in the proposal.  Some solicitations require you to deliver a specific product; this „deliverable‟ is then an objective  Explicitly state how your objectives respond to the solicitation (if appropriate & non-obvious)  Mention tools that you may use, options if things don‟t work, etc.
  15. 15. GENERAL FEATURES OF A GOOD PROPOSAL Has clear and itemized description of tasks, i.e., the work to be done to achieve these objectives  There should normally be a „Task‟ section mapped to each objective  Describe your research tools and how you will apply them. Reviewers want to know what work will actually be done to justify the budget  Have enough technical detail to convey competence, not so much as to lose reviewer or invite pickiness.  Mention tools that you may use, options if things don‟t work, etc.
  16. 16. GENERAL FEATURES OF A GOOD PROPOSAL Oozes with competence: you need to convince reviewer that you‟re the right person for the job  Proposal should include mini-review of literature on research topic, including discussion of your own previous accomplishments; this is usually the material that the reviewer enjoys reading most  Nothing beats having relevant publications to show (1) that you know what you‟re doing, (2) that you can publish. Advertise your publications.  Most proposals are tied to general professional development and reviewers will want to see this. Talk about how the proposed work fits into your larger-scale research plans and interests, your career development, your teaching/outreach objectives, etc. A proposal should be intensely personal.
  17. 17. TARGETING THE REVIEWER As with a presentation, it is crucial that you know your audience and pitch your message accordingly Expect the reviewer to be a specialist in your field, so write to a very high level of expertise (you must convince the expert that what you‟re proposing is new and worthwhile); if reviewer can‟t follow the technical content they will recognize it as their problem. At the same time, you need to put your work in perspective and show broad vision  A non-expert reviewer will expect to at least understand why you want to do your work, how it fits in the broader future of the field, and the general lines of what you want to do  An expert reviewer will also expect that you place your work in perspective
  18. 18. TARGETING THE REVIEWER Have enough technical detail to convince reviewer that you know what you‟re doing and that your tasks make sense.  Avoid controversy; don‟t give rope to hang yourself.  Avoid vague statements not backed up by evidence; reviewer will conclude you don‟t know what you‟re talking about. Proposal should ooze expertise!  Your tasks should be clear about the first steps of your proposed research. Beyond that, it‟s perfectly OK to be intelligently tentative. If plan A doesn‟t work, you will try Plan B, etc. This is research after all.
  19. 19. TARGETING THE REVIEWER Try to have a mix of objectives/tasks on which you can clearly deliver and others that you recognize as risky  Program managers have to account for the dollars they dole out – a proposal with risk of zero return has little chance of funding  Reviewers put a lot of stock on whether the proposer can actually deliver on the work, which tends to discourage risk-taking (this is a known problem). Fellowship and foundation funding are more amenable to risk-taking  It may however be a good idea for the proposal to have some element of risk and identified as such. Repetitions of important points, bullet and number lists, bold text are OK and may be important to ensure that the reviewer gets the message you want to convey. Don‟t assume that the reviewer will read every word in your proposal. Make sure that the important points