Proposal Writing Workshop

  • Introduction
  • Process
    • Research into orgs
    • Contact develop a relationship
    • Process for proposal
  • Writing an introduction to a project (writing time)
  • Needs statement, purpose and goals
  • Program design and methodology
  • Evaluation and monitoring
  • Budget
  • Review
  • Presentations (10- 15min each)
  • Response
  • Reporting back to the funding agency
  • Who has experience applying for grants
  • What types of grants
  • Why grants?
  • Grant making bodies
  • Government
  • Semi-government foundations
  • Private foundations
  • Corporate foundations

Finding funding sources that match : foundation interests that match your project and organization

Know your project

  1. Need for this project
  2. Why YOU should be doing this
  3. Network, allies, reputation
  4. Mission and Vision
  5. Expectations, impact of project
  6. Ways to continue or build upon this later

Know your organization

Do a SWOT analysis

Doing research

Key points :

1. Find out about funders’ interests –
  • Make sure they are related to your project or organization’s mission
2. Contents :
  • their priorities : issues, locations and types of programs
  • what/who they have funded in the past
  • how much they give for what
  • If they only give restricted funds or not
3. Process :
  • types of materials
  • how much they give
  • their funding period and schedule
  • Requirements
  • What you need to submit
4. Targets: who are the decision makers/Find out who board of directors and staff are
  • Maybe there is a person with an interest in your work
  • Identify people associated with the funder that can help you
5. Budget/financial issues to look for in funder guidelines :
  • What kind of budget is the funder looking for? Find out if they want you to submit
    • A budget for a department or major program,
    • A budget for your organization
    • Just the budget for the proposed project.
    • An audit of your organization
    • A particular form or a budget in a particular format.
  • What costs are allowed and what are not allowed?
    • For example, will they pay for/cover :
      • Equipment purchases, or for a lease?
      • Specific common costs such as phone, rent or insurance?
      • Fundraising costs,
      • Efforts to find ongoing or replacement funding for the proposed project?
      • Personnel related costs?
      • A certain % of a project?
  • What does the funder classify as (direct) program, maintenance/shared and indirect costs?
    • Are the costs that you internally term common/shared, such as rent and telephone, considered direct costs or indirect costs? This will vary by funder.
    • Are there elements of your internal overhead costs that the funder does not allow you to include as indirect?
    • Will they cover personnel costs?
    • Do they allow any type of cushion or line item for misc. costs?
    • Do they have set % that they will allow for any of these?

Information Sources

Books : foundation guides, how-to books
Magazines / online magazines
Centers / On-line :

Funding institutions


Creating a relationship

How do you get your foot in the door? How do you get to know each other?

Step 1

  • Contact by phone or email.
  • See if you can get a formal introduction by someone you know.
  • Provide them with information about your mission and some general comments about a project idea you have.
  • Contact them with something concrete – even if only a list of ideas – but do not overwhelm them with too much information. (They are getting hundred of these emails everyday!)

Step 2 : meeting

  • Send your materials in advance
  • Try to get a sense of interest and what types of interest
  • Try to leave meeting with something concrete : follow-up visit, date to had in a concept paper, a new contact, etc.

Top 20 U.S. Foundations Awarding Grants for International Affairs

Foundation Name, State Dollar Amount No. of Grants
1. The Ford Foundation NY $119,521,230 547
2. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation WA 59,727,234 46
3. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation IL 37,684,500 124
4. Turner Foundation, Inc. GA 35,633,518 44
5. The Rockefeller Foundation NY 32,348,506 193
6. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation CA 31,142,627 100
7. The Starr Foundation NY 28,378,000 77
8. The Freeman Foundation NY 16,566,227 58
9. The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. MD 14,418,613 15
10. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation MI 13,859,287 91
11. Carnegie Corporation of New York NY 13,819,200 73
12. Open Society Institute NY 13,078,834 101
13. Citigroup Foundation NY 10,120,850 210
14. W. K. Kellogg Foundation MI 10,049,972 40
15. J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation IL 9,050,000 2
16. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation CA 7,834,500 35
17. Monsanto Fund MO 7,797,606 7
18. The Buffett Foundation NE 6,103,425 3
19. Lucent Technologies Foundation NJ 5,268,802 15
20. The Danforth Foundation MO 5,250,000 2

Top 20 Non-U.S. Recipients of U.S. Foundation Grants, circa 2002*

Recipient Name Country Dollar Amount No. of Grants
1. International Vaccine Institute South Korea $55,334,470 3
2. Armenia, Government of Armenia 39,010,658 1
3. Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (FONCA) Mexico 28,895,089 2
4. World Health Organization Switzerland 28,497,855 19
5. Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine England 27,931,000 3
6. Avi Chai Israel 17,100,602 1
7. Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia Peru 15,525,718 1
8. Health Systems Trust South Africa 13,200,000 3
9. Makerere University Uganda 8,776,664 26
10. Confederation of Independent States, Ministries, Soviet Union 7,915,242 1
11. Charities Aid Foundation England 6,615,307 50
12. Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum Austria 6,150,000 3
13. Shalem Center Israel 5,897,517 1
14. Foundation for Academic Excellence and Access India 5,894,271 2
15. Human Sciences Research Council South Africa 5,513,500 5
16. University of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe 4,978,425 17
17. Oxford University England 4,775,834 18
18. Asian Scholarship Foundation Thailand 4,530,000 1
19. European Centre for Population and Development Belgium 3,950,000 4
20. University of Cape Town South Africa 3,474,200 15
FC Stats : The Foundation Center’s Statistical Information Service

Group Discussion

Discuss your own ideas for a project you would like to get funding for your organization.


Introduce your PROJECT : what is it?

WHY is this project necessary?

What do you hope to achieve?

How you will carry it out/what are your METHODS?

Who will your participants be?





Process : Steps before the proposal

Concept paper

◆ Summary paper of the project : Introduce key themes : show need, vision and expected impact

Usually less than 3 pages

“A concept paper is a short description of the idea you wish to submit to a foundation for consideration… requests these if an institution has several projects and can’t choose which to send in… helps them indicate which might be the best project for the institution to submit. Its an informal document that usually precedes a formal letter of intent.” (From Foundation Directory online)

◆ “The concept paper or pre-proposal should contain all of the main arguments and evidence you will use to convince your reader to give you something. However, unlike the position paper, you must first convince the reader that: • there is a problem that needs to be solved. Show that: You know the solution to the problem. You are the best person or team to solve the problem.”

LOI (Letter of inquiry/ Letter of intent) An official first step

Two parts

Part 1 Narrative, usually 1-3 pages,
Part 2 Basic budget 1 page
  • Order your LOI in a way that is logical.
  • A summary or outline is also useful.
  • Funders are most interested in supporting organizations which :
    1. are unique and innovative,
    2. have results to show, that can be measured
    3. can present themselves well on paper and in person.

Tips on narrative :

  • Give your project a name
  • Keep the narrative clear and simple
  • Use words that show action and avoid special terms no one outside that field knows
  • Think of this as a sales document rather than a PR tool
  • Have an outside reader check it.
  • Be sure you check their form/format carefully.
  • Do not need to be too specific about dates, but show a clear timeframe
  • Show some flexibility but clear vision and impacts
  • Highlight other partners, supporters or funders
  • Show a clear relationship between their priorities and yours
  • Use key words (why: some do document searches for key words)

Letter of inquiry : sample outline

◆ Narrative (1-3 pages) Relationship between Foundation’s priorities and your project.

  • Introduction : How does this relate to grant makers priority issues? Show a clear relationship between your project and the funder’s priorities.
  • Projects objectives, goals and needs it fulfills
  • Project need : What are the needs you are responding to/addressing? [e.g. some statistics about the number of foster youth who are homeless, etc.] Define the population you will serve
  • Organization intro/background/expertise/structure, potential partners
  • Program design (be sure to show how this relates to the ‘need’) Approach/process/procedure/plan
  • Outcomes/evaluation – how will you know you have been successful? Do you have specific timelines by which projects will be completed?
  • Funding Request – 1 page, budget outline
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