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Ansisters Event August 2005


Detail from the performance 'Patterns Outside My Head' by Janine Lewis, Rantebeng Makapan and Bonisile Nxumalo. As part of the FACE Ansisters 2005 event, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg.

Copyright © FACE 2005.
All rights reserved.

forum : resources : proposal writing article

Art Therapy Centre

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Proposal writing
The funding enquiry
Elements of a generic proposal
Uniqueness of the organisation
Expected benefits
Operational plan
Monitoring and evaluation
The budget
Attachments and other documentation
Download MSWord document

by Danny Myburgh, presentated to the Creative Activation Forum, Saturday 8 October 2005


I recently attended a conference in Cape Town called “Organizational Sustainability, Professional Fundraising, Proposal Writing” which was facilitated by Frank Julie. Frank is a remarkable, enthusiastic and inspiring person. He has worked for many NGOs, in various capacities, but now works as a consultant and strategist to NGOs and donors.

This presentation is a summary of a part of the conference relating to proposal writing. I make no representations about my personal expertise in the matter. In fact, I found the conference hugely enlightening and even daunting. It seems the more you know, the more there is yet to know.

The most important thing that needs to be said is that a proposal for funding is a reflection of the state of the organization. Before a donor will give an organization money it must be satisfied that its money is not going to be wasted by an organization that is badly/dishonestly/inefficiently run.

The donor must therefore be satisfied that:

• the people running the organization are trustworthy, capable and professional;
• the problem has been identified accurately;
• the proposed means of dealing with the problem is the best solution;
• the organization has the necessary capacity;
• the donor will get his money’s worth.

It is therefore imperative that all the basics of a sound business are in place.

Not everyone here may be concerned with fundraising and proposal writing in their organization. However, the issues addressed in a proposal focus the mind on the details and specifics of the project, and can only be useful in formulating and strategizing projects. This format can be adapted and applied when brainstorming a proposed project.



To check:

• The focus areas of funding
• The format in which the funding should be requested
• The channels of communication

A funding enquiry:

• Keep it short (not more than 2 pages)
• Give brief description of your organization and its vision and mission
• What project you are enquiring about
• Highlight your successes
• Indicate your organization’s ability to deliver results
• Give an idea of your accountability structures
• Pose the question whether the donor would consider a full proposal from your organization



• The covering letter
• Title page
• Introduction
• Problem statement
• Uniqueness of the organization
• Objectives
• Expected benefits
• Operational plan
• Personnel
• The budget
• Attachments and other documentation

There is no one correct way of writing a funding proposal. Most proposals will be drafted according to the criteria stipulated by the donor, or according to the type of project you are applying for funding to. Many donors have designed their own application forms.



• This letter briefly describes the content of the proposal, in other words, a short summary.
• It should not contain too much detail and must not sound prescriptive or intimidating.
• Definitely do not beg.
• The letter should be signed by the most senior staff member e.g. Director or project coordinator. The chairperson of an involved executive committee can co-sign.



The title page must contain the following information:

• Name and address of the organization
• Telephone, fax, email, website, cell phone numbers
• Title of the project
• Time period of the project
• Name of the potential donor
• Date of submission
• Fundraising/NPO number of the organization
• Name of the contact person



• Describes the general aims and objectives of the organization. SMART, (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time bound)
• as it makes reporting easier
• Describes briefly similar projects that already exist
• Describes the organization’s target group/clients
• Provides some statistics/research that support your proposal



• Identify the target group
• Identify the needs that your organization wishes to address
• Explain the scope of the problem your organization wishes to address
• Supply research/statistics to inform the donors of how big the problem really is
• Describe how social values will be influenced.
• Explain what impact the problem has on the community and provide an indication of community resources/the lack thereof

What is the problem/need?
Where is the problem?
When does the problem occur?
What is the scope of the problem?
Who is affected by the problem?



• The proposal should convince the donor that your organization is the most suitable to address the problem.
• Why your organization and not another?
• Why your proposal and not another?
• Why your methodology?
• Why your organization will deliver the best results?
• Use your track record to convince the donor.
• Sell results/success.
• You must document the organization’s successes, challenges, lessons and feedback
• Develop a model that you can sell. Project replication.



• Describe the objectives/results that you want to achieve and at what cost.
• SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time bound)
• The stages/phases in addressing the problem
• What benefits will there be for the recipients of your project?



• Indicate the benefits for your target group e.g. sustainable income, increased self-esteem, decrease in poverty, reduction in crime, community cohesion, access to information, etc.
• Indicate benefits to the organization e.g. more knowledge, more effective methods, new program/material, models for other projects, how does the project fit in with government focus areas, etc.
• Indicate benefits for the donors. Donors work with many organizations, therefore how can they use your project with others they may be involved with.



• This is the core of the proposal
• A realistic management plan for the total duration of the project
• It describes the structural relationship to the rest of the organization
• It indicates the commencement date and date of completion of every task and activity, preferably in a monthly sequence.

What will be done?
By whom?
How will it be done?
Resources needed to execute tasks
Indicators of success
Who is accountable for task completion?



Donors would like to know that the personnel are:

• Qualified
• Have the ability to initiate and complete projects successfully
• Have the necessary experience

Provide job descriptions of personnel:

• Job title
• Educational qualifications
• Specific responsibilities
• Authority for the project



• Formative and summative
• Quality and quantity
• Efficiency and effectivity
• Monitoring relates to the aims of the project
• Evaluation relates to the objectives of the project
• Before you can evaluate you need to monitor constantly to check for any deviations in your project plan.
• Monitoring is about gathering relevant info and processing it.
• An evaluation can be internal or external. An external evaluation is more objective.
• An evaluation determines the value of the project.
• Determine tools to establish the value of the project.

Einstein: Not everything that can be measured is important.

Evaluation should include:

• Evaluation criteria
• Techniques to be used
• Design
• Time period
• Who will do it
• Why will it be done
• Your commitment to submit an evaluation report (this should include unintended positive and negative spin offs)



Is a comprehensive and realistic monetary description of your organization’s projected income and expenses over a specific period.

The budget should cover:

• Operational expenses for the project
• Capital expenses for the project
• Core cost expenses for the organization to run the project
• Note that some core costs will also be operational expenses – do not under budget
• Also specify income that project will generate. Donor needs to know that project is financially sustainable.
• Indicate other donors that have been approached and those that have committed.
• Specify material donations and voluntary labor in monetary terms.
• Specify any expertise that can lead to project success.
• Contact other organizations to help with costing.
• Do not inflate your budget.
• Negotiate fees with suppliers and consultants.
• Demonstrate to donor that you will respect the money and not abuse it.



• Add an organizational structure (organogram) to show where your project fits into the total organization and the lines of accountability
• Include constitution and NPO certificate
• Newspaper cuttings of your organization’s work
• Letters of support from board members, community, client group
• Photos of similar projects



MSWord document

Posted 21 October 2005,, author: Danny Myburgh.