But organising those ideas into a well-organised concept note that persuades donors to support your project can be a challenge for many.
Your concept note / proposal needs to do three things.
Firstly, it has to convince the reader there is a problem that needs to be solved. Next, it has to show that there is a solution. And, finally, you need to convince the reader of your ability to make that happen.
So here’s a template you can use when organising your project ideas into a concept note / proposal that will persuade your donor of those things.
The Background has two parts – Context and Problem Analysis.
In the Context section you will give a very brief description of the environment in which the project will operate. This may often be no more than a couple of a paragraphs, and it definitely ISN’T a place to go on at great length, as you need to get to the problem quickly if you want to keep your reader’s interest. So include here just enough information that your reader has a general idea about the location, target community, their history and anything else important they might need to know in order to understand the rest.
Next, get to the Problem Analysis, and start with the Core Problem from your Problem Tree analysis. That’s the central issue that project aims to address / change by its end. This will get your reader’s attention.
Next, describe the effects. Remember, we need to persuade the reader that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
After that, describe the causes.
Now we can move onto the Project Description.
Start by describing the Impact – the shared development goal the project will contribute to – and the Outcome – what the project promises to deliver in terms of change by its end.
Once that is done, move onto the Outputs. It is a good idea to present the activities – either as a list or a short description – after each activity.
We are now already on the way to persuading the reader that there is a solution.
We can now get deeper into the management side.
In the M&E section, describe how M&E activities will be carried out. What approaches / methods will you use? Who will be involved? How frequently will M&E activities be conducted, and how will information gathered from M&E be reported and acted upon?
In the Management section, describe the management structure of the project. Who is involved? What are the different roles? How will information move around this system? Here it’s also good to include a list of all key staff, as well as visual of the organigram showing the communication within the project.
By the point we are already on our way to persuading the donor of the third thing – our ability to carry that out.
First, though, let’s look at Budget. Include here the total cost, and, if possible, break this down so each output / result has a cost assigned to it. Describe also your expected funding sources (donors / government / community contribution, etc.).
And the final section - Organisation Background - is where – if you haven’t convinced the donor already – you convince them that you are the right people for the job. Discuss why your organisation exists, and its mandate; what experience you have in similar work; and whatever other special skills you bring to this project that makes it something uniquely suited to your organisation.
Download the Word template here.