Writing Successful Proposals:
Some working strategies

Hari Srinivas
The NGO Cafe sits in the middle - between funding organizations on hand, and NGOs seeking funds on the other. While it has not itself disbursed funds, The NGO Cafe as learnt a number of lessons on the way. Here are some working strategies for successful proposal writing, written in no particular order:
  • Building credibility goes a long way in getting that grant. Use your board members and advisors to 'advertise' your proposal (and set up an advisory board if you don't have one already!).

  • Funding organizations work in grant cycles, disbursing grants one to three times a year. So, if you fail for the current grant, you can always apply for the next round.

  • It is important that the requested budget is within the limits of the funding organization's limits. Check their annual reports or similar documents to see the average size of funding made available.

  • Make sure to write a proposal that is within the limits of your organization's capacities and competencies. And within the limits of the budget requested.

  • Make sure you have clearly outlined exactly what is intended - do not use grand language without the substantial details of the exact impact that is intended, or benefits for the target groups. Ask friends and advisors to check the proposal.

  • Make sure you have fully studied and understood the priorities of the funding organization, and the reasons they are providing funds.

  • Many times, key wordings and well articulated proposals help convince the funders of its viability and impact. Again, link it strongly to the priorities of the funding organization, but don't quote it verbatim!

  • Most funding organization have clear guidelines, instructions and guides on their funding procedures. Many times they are targeted at a particular group, for a particular purpose or a region.

  • Since many organizations apply for funding make sure your proposal and application form is correct in all respects and follows the procedures properly.

  • Ultimately, no funding organization want to see a dependency on external funds for the success of a project. Clearly outline how self-sufficiency will be built using a long-term strategy, which goes beyond the time frames of the proposal being made.

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