A proposal is very crucial as it often needed and requested from an individual to write one and submit at many points in life. A proposal is basically an elaborate article that identifies a problem, highlights strategies to be adopted in solving the problem, the impact of the solution, methods of evaluating the solutions prescribed and implemented and estimated budget needed to execute the objective. It is intended to solve problems in which many a times, funds are required. This article aims at highlighting very important tips on writing a good proposal.
- Funders’ guidelines
Most of the times, funding agencies have guidelines for proposals seeking for funds. It is therefore necessary to read the guidelines carefully before making an application. At the beginning of each proposal, it is very necessary to give a summary of the project. Many funders will state the length of each summary.
- Organizational Information
If the proposal is originating from an organization, it is necessary in a brief summary, to tell the funders about the nature of the organization. A summary of the track record of achievement of the organization should be given. The location and key officials of the organization should be given. If there are similar organizations in the geographical region where the organization is located, then the inter-relationship with other organizations should be mentioned.
If there are other co-workers, they should also be mentioned. Their levels of qualification should also be stated. Many funders will request that the CV of all the people involved in the project should be attached to the grant proposal.
- Problem description
It is wrong to assume that the funder knows your problem. Grant givers may even hire people to review the proposal. What is the identified problem? Is it necessary to solve the problem? Does your organization have on-going research in the area of the problem to be solved? Is there preliminary information on the problem or similar area to indicate the expertise of your organization on the research problem? It is important to note that your problem should not be larger than the expected solution. The chosen solution should be equivalent to the problem.
- Work Plan
It is always necessary to itemize how one plans to solve the problem. The step to be followed in solving the problem could be properly captured in the goal of the project. The level of activities to solve the problem should be described. The methodology should be detailed. The project objectives and how these will be realized should be well described. Do not promise or exaggerate an unrealistic level of plan. If a preliminary work has already taken place, this should be mentioned so that the funders can realize that you are well prepared.
- Impact of activities
The impact of the project should be mentioned, if possible. Sometimes such impact may be difficult to describe or measure before the commencement of the project.
This is aimed at finding out if the desired result has been achieved. All that needs to be done is to describe the information to be gathered to show how close the results are to the desired objectives.
- Other funding
The funder is interested in knowing if there are other sources of funds for the research project. Some funders may want to be the sole supporter or sponsor of the project.
- Future funding
Where the project does not terminate with the current funding, some funding agencies will want to know how the project will continuously sponsored after the termination of the present sponsorship.
A detailed budget is required to accompany every proposal unless there is an explicit statement indicating that this is not necessary. The type of budget will depend on the type of proposal. The budget consists generally of personnel expenses, direct project expenses and administrative or overhead expenses. Personnel expenses include the expenses for all the people who will work on the project. Direct project expenses are non-personnel expenses such as travel costs, printing, space, equipment, animals (for biomedical research), supplies (consumable items), insurance, etc. Administrative expenses will include phone, copying, postage and office supplies, etc.
Some funding organizations may request for auditors’ reports or even grant management procedures and other supplementary materials. Each proposal will generally follow the guidelines laid down by the funding body.