When was the last time you planned out your approach process for a proposal? When was the last time you thought about an evaluation or your outcomes in relation to your budget or your team, or for that matter, your team and your budget and your proposal in relation to each other? Can you do what you say you are going to do with the budget you are proposing with the team you have in the time frame allotted? Maybe you have been lucky and have been funded and this hasn’t been a concern for you or your team. However, if you keep missing the mark and are not getting funded you may want to look at your approach process for a proposal.
When completing a grant application, the proposal planning is just as, if not more important, than the actual writing portion. It is crucial to understand all of the elements that need to go into your proposal before you can successfully put those thoughts on paper. Proposal planning should be multi-disciplinary, meaning that it should include consideration of all aspects of the purpose and objectives, as well as administrative components such as management and budget. All of this should be done while also thinking of how to appeal to funders. While there is a lot to consider in proposal planning, here are essential items to consider as part of your approach process for a proposal.
- Purpose and objectives: It is important in your proposal to clearly state the purpose of your proposal, or the problem or need that you are looking to address. After this, you should address your program objective, or how it meets the problem or need. It is also important to include your target population, and how your project benefits this population. Lastly, a timeline of how you will approach your project is important for funders to determine the feasibility of your project, therefore it should be included in the proposal.
- Management and administration: Just as it is crucial to explain the objectives of your project, it is equally important to state what you will need to achieve that objective. A critical component of this is your team. Part of proposal planning should be considering any additional or specialized staff that you may need to meet your objectives. You should also consider which skills and experiences are necessary for your staff to have. This will be important for funders to understand how your goals will be achieved.
- Budget: Your budget is arguably the most important part of your proposal. Without funding, your project would not be possible, therefore, the budget determines what you will be able to do and what is feasible for your organization. For this reason, it should be clearly outlined in your proposal. This includes the total cost of the project, as well as how funds will be allocated, whether it be to staff salaries or other components of the project. In other words, you want to state how your funds will address your specific need. Because the budget determines what can be done in your project, it is important to create the budget first, so to have a better understanding of what is realistic for your project.
- Writing: Ideally, the writing portion can only begin once you have planned all of the elements that go into your proposal. Once this is complete, the writing portion ties all of these elements together. When writing the application, it is important to not only explain your project, but to do it in a way that appeals to funders by being clear and concise, and writing for the forms and guidelines of the application. In other words, be sure you are clearly following directions. Overall, planning all of the different components of your proposal should make the writing process go much smoother, and increase your chances of receiving the funding you need to help your business succeed.
This post was written by our intern, Lindsay Robbins. She is currently an undergraduate senior at Towson University majoring in International Studies and Economics. At Towson University she has held several leadership positions including working with Model United Nations and as a Writing Tutor. She has also spent time studying and working in youth development organizations in Honduras and Peru. See more about Lindsay here.
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