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9 Tips to write great project proposals

There are some issues to note in developing and preparing project proposals. These issues will decide if you will succeed in raising the desired funds or not. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to these proposal tips.



Tip #1: Keep the Language Simple:

Use simple language – use familiar words and avoid jargon. The assessors would rather understand you than read beautifully crafted compound sentences. Be clear and avoid getting the assessors confused. Note that they often have tens or even hundreds of proposals to check. They won’t have the patience to check the meanings of words in a dictionary.


Tip #2: Stick to Instructions:

It is very common for instructions to be overlooked. This often has serious consequences as there may be specific guidelines on how certain sections should be written. Some sections of a proposal template might stipulate word or character limits. Never exceed limits in characters, words or pages. Therefore, use short words, sentences and paragraphs or otherwise where appropriate. Take time and study the instructions (if any) before writing a proposal.

Tip #3: Avoid Repetition:

Be direct – do not repeat yourself. Get straight to the point and say what you mean. Present a new idea in each section or paragraph. Exhaust all points on an idea before introducing a new idea. Remain consistent in the use of terminologies throughout the document. It is not a very good practice to alternate between words that may refer to the same thing. Note the importance to use the same terms consistently throughout the document to avoid confounding the assessor.

Tip #4: Use the Right Format:

Various donors have customized proposal formats and each requires that proposals be written using same. One must be careful to use the right format. Be aware that most formats or templates require similar information but may be distinct in some regards. There are some seemingly confusing issues that can complicate the use of formats such as using different terminologies to mean the same things like goal/overall objective; outcomes/results. Whatever the case may be, it is important to study the donor’s interpretation of the terms. Sometimes, it is just difficult to find the right template for your proposal. If none has been provided, there are many great templates online which can be found here.

Tip #5: Conduct Adequate Planning:

The major planning problems lie in poor logframe development skills. Many people find it difficult to specify how the interventions they have stated will result in the impact they claim to achieve. To deal with this, the logframe analysis must be mastered. We shall have a step by step logframe guide in subsequent articles.


Tip #6: Avoid Fear and poor motivation:

Poor motivation is a big issue for people writing proposals. This stems from the fear of proposal rejection. Fear causes writers to want to invest time and resources to develop good proposals. While we cannot be certain that a proposal will be approved, one must envisage the desired result, make the necessary efforts and be satisfied in having developed such a good proposal. Any experienced proposal writer will know that rejection are normal even after one has mastered the art. Shun the fear and write!!!



Tip #7: Tight deadlines:

This is perhaps the most universal problem for all proposal writers. Deadlines are a necessary condition for funding and hence proposal writers must work within the given time if they really want the funds.



Tip #8: Unsolicited proposal:

A person writing a proposal must be able to determine if they are writing a solicited or unsolicited proposal. Solicited proposals are more likely to get a favourable response than an unsolicited proposal. To a large extent, avoid writing an unsolicited proposal, except if it is very necessary. Study your target donor, some specify in clear terms that do not consider unsolicited proposals. If that is the case, please do not send any to them.



Tip #9: Shake off the Laziness and write

This is the most serious problem facing organizations that desire to make a positive change in society. Honestly, good proposals require painstaking efforts. However, it is wrong to assume that one good proposal will appeal to every donor. There is no one size fits all proposals. Avoid laziness and prepare a really good proposal for each donor. The benefit of doing this is that the skill to develop great proposals improve and the chances to get a favourable response also grows.

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