Nonprofit Operational Manual

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Concept paper

The reason for doing the needs assessment is to get information on the needs of the community and what actions to take in addressing them. So it is time to take action. Based on the plan of action developed from the needs assessment we recommend you develop a concept note.

A concept note is a summary of your proposed projects that will convince your stakeholders and potential funders that there is a real need for it to be implemented. Usually a concept note helps to check a funder’s interest in supporting your work before writing a full proposal. This is a trend with many funders these days. Having a concept note written enables the organisation to collect project ideas and have then filed for potential fund raising or partnerships.

A concept note is a brief outline of the project you have in your mind. Ideally, it should not be more than 2-3 pages unless the donor agency has specific requirements—some ask for maximum of 5 pages. If you wish to supply extra information, you can always annex documents such as your organization profile. Your concept note will have an introduction, a background, proposed objectives and results and a budget overview. It should address the following questions:

After writing your concept note, make sure that you proofread for errors and check if it is clear and simple enough to be understood by anyone reading it. Ask yourself if the problems and solutions you have identified are well stated? When this is done, identify a list of potential funders and send the concept note to them via email or courier. Note that some funders have a standard process for receiving concept notes