Proposal writing is not a one-man show; while one individual may bear the responsibility of overseeing the proposal from start to finish, many other people need to be involved in the process. It is an inclusive process. More ideas are brought to light when all those involved in the project have some input.
Here are some examples of those who could be involved in the planning and writing stages of the proposal.
- Program Staff – The people who will be running the program should have a say in how it is designed.
- Fundraisers – The fundraisers need to know about the project to sell it. Fundraisers will also have some expertise on what project elements will appeal to donors and what won’t.
- Beneficiaries – The project is designed to help these people. They should be consulted in the planning stages.
- Community – A project may affect others beyond the intended beneficiaries. It is important to hear from others within the project area.
- Others within the NGO – Running a program is a team activity. Let the team be involved from the very start.
- The Board – A good board should be able to provide valuable assistance.
- Other NGOs – Other organizations may have advice, expertise and other resources at their disposal. They may have examples of similar past projects, proposals, budgets, etc. or be willing to partner.
- Experts – Almost all projects have a technical component, so it is important to consult them on the details. Depending on the type of project, experts may include lawyers, medical doctors, local government agencies, accountants, community organizers, advocacy groups, software developers, teachers, scientists, police etc.
- Contractors – Some projects necessitate hiring others outside the NGO to provide goods and services. Consult these people or companies to make sure the requirements are reasonable and get a cost estimate. Also, see if they can provide free or discounted services for NGOs!
- Donors – In some cases, donors may be willing to help plan a project they would be interested in funding. Many donors have experience in planning projects from reviewing so many proposals, visiting the field, working with NGOs etc. Some donors provide technical expertise as part of their mission. If possible, try to connect with donors and seek advice.
The planning stage should give rise to numerous writings and documents which can be condensed and formatted into a proposal. In general, one individual should be responsible for the proposal, however, certain sections should be drafted by others and many should be involved in the review process.
- Proposal writer – Ideally this is someone within the organization with experience in writing proposals. In general, it is not recommended to hire consultants to write proposals, as this is a necessary skill NGOs need to develop. It may, however, be a good idea to hire a consultant in the planning and review stages.
- Program managers – Program people will have a very in-depth understanding of how the project will be implemented.
- Researchers – Researchers can contribute to the project rationale, background, and context.
- Marketing team – Those responsible for marketing will know how to present the NGO, have a good organizational background summary, and can assist in branding the proposal.
- Accountant – An accountant should always look over the budget.
- Reviewers – Have as many people as possible look over the proposal drafted to help finalize it. Try to get those involved in the planning stages to check for accuracy and ask other people within the NGO to make sure the NGO’s message is conveyed. It is also a good idea to have people completely unrelated to the project and NGO look over the draft, as they can often give an unbiased opinion and evaluate how easily understandable the proposal is. Also, make sure an editor/ native speaker checks spelling and grammar!