Do you sometimes wonder why your proposals, once sent, don’t actually turn into projects? All that effort and ... nothing.
We all want our proposals to be successful. After all, we put a lot of effort into them – and we know that implementing the proposal is going to benefit end-users. But donors are just not responding.
There are many reasons why a proposal might not get a response. Let’s look at a few here.
1. THE PROPOSAL’S OUTCOMES DO NOT REFLECT THE DONOR'S AREA OF CONCERN
Well, that’s a big issue. If the proposal doesn’t offer value, if it doesn’t align with the donor’s strategic objectives, or address a national, regional or global priority, it’s very unlikely to get your donors excited.
2. THE ISSUE DOES NOT STRIKE THE READER AS SIGNIFICANT
While this may be because it doesn’t match the donor’s interests, it could be something else. The most important part of a proposal is the problem description. This is where you ‘sell’ the need for the project. So, even if you have an amazing project that fully lines up with you donor’s interests, you still not have convinced them because you just didn’t explain the problem well enough.
3. THE PROPOSAL IS POORLY WRITTEN AND HARD TO UNDERSTAND
One of the reasons we fail to get our message across is simply that we didn’t explain the problem well enough. But there’s the rest, too – the background, the project description, explaining how the project will be monitored and managed, as well as the budget. It may be hard to follow because the ideas are organised poorly and the main ideas don’t come through; or the writing may lack clarity.
4. THE WRITER DID NOT FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES
Donors need to evaluate proposals in a consistent way. Ignoring the guidelines or template is another sure way to have your proposal rejected without consideration.
HOW TO INCREASE SUPPORT FOR YOUR PROPOSALS
Clearly, then, we need to firstly identify projects that our donors are likely to support. This means a project which firstly offers VALUE. It needs to align with the donor’s strategic plans, or contribute to a national, regional or global development goal.
We also need to demonstrate that we have support towards solving this problem. That support can be internal (i.e. it is in line with your own organisation’s purpose and mandate) as well as the support of key stakeholders such as government, NGOs and other institutions.
And the project needs to be where you have comparative advantage. What unique skills do you have that means you can do this better than others? What do you bring to the table in terms of capacity, reputation and experience?
Once the project is identified, of course you will also need a project plan – as well as the skills to organise that proposal well, express your ideas clearly and convince your donor that:
- There is a problem that deserves their attention
- There is a solution
- You have the ability to deliver
You can learn all these skills in our online training on Project Planning & Proposal Writing.
Learn what makes proposals successful and how to identify a project your donors will support. Learn the steps of project design as well as the key skills of writing a persuasive project proposal.
Start delivering proposals that your donors actually want to support.