Nonprofit Operational Manual

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Full project proposal

Now that you have written a concept note and a funder has signified interest in providing support, the next you will hear is “send us a full proposal for further consideration”. This is potentially a good news but the start of another process. At this stage the concept note now needs to be developed into a full proposal.

Most funding organisations have a template or guideline for writing and submitting proposals. It is important that you follow their guide or template if one is provided. Note also activities that the funder can and cannot fund.

A full proposal or grant proposal follows a fairly standard format that includes a cover letter, a summary of your project, and the amount of money you’ll need from the funder. Proposals can range in length from 5-25 pages. While there a no single model or structure for a funding proposal there are components that we think should not be ignored:


Outcomes of the needs assessment will be very helpful in developing a good background to the issue and excerpts from your strategic plan.

Statement of the problem
Goals and objectives
The goals of the project are the results you hope see at the end of the project. The goals tell the funding agency the improvements you are hoping to achieve among the community or target group. Goals show what the impact will be over a long term period.

Objectives are much narrower than goals and are smart, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound. Objectives should be framed along the following lines:
For example:

Activities that will achieve the goals and objectives need to be identified and clearly articulated in the proposal. At this stage of the proposal, the activities must be related to the problem and objectives. Explanation should be given for each activity with timeframe for each activity. Each activity must lead to the other.

Roles and responsibilities
If partners or multiple organisations are involved in the delivery of the activities, it is necessary to identify the role of each partner or organisation to prevent disputes.

Most funders are interested in knowing how you will sustain the project when funding has ended. Your proposal should include information on how this will be achieved. List out the organisations/partners or beneficiaries and the role they will play in taking over the project and their responsibilities once the project funding come to an end.

Implementation plan
This section of the proposal details how the activities will be implemented, time frame, activity, who will be responsible and expected outputs. Your work plan should be included here in form of a table. See sample of a project work plan here

Monitoring and Evaluation
A description of how the project will be monitored and evaluated (M and E) should be included in the proposal to identify gaps and implementation challenges for quick retooling, learning and impact measurement. How the results of the M&E will be shared also needs to be included.

The best way to submit your budget is to put in a spreadsheet and should include the description of the items needed, unit cost, quantity and total cost. The budget must not be inflated and must include all costs you want the funder to cover. See for a sample project budget.