Proposal writing, like all other writing, has its own special jargon. Note that all these definitions are specific to NGOs in writing proposals. Many of these words will have alternative meanings outside of this space which are not included here.
Activity: an action undertaken by the project or the organization to achieve the set objectives; also referred to as input.
Assumption: a predicted external factor, which if fails to occur may negatively impact the project.
Beneficiary: the direct participants or recipients of funding or program support; a group or individual directly impacted and benefited by the project.
Budget: a document which specifies how money will be allocated to implement the activities described in the proposal; a description of the project in numbers.
Case study: a personal story which analyses a problem faced by an individual or a group of persons.
Concept note: the shortest expression of a project idea given on paper to a donor; document generally used in the first instance when pitching a project to a donor.
Cross-cutting theme: a related issue or theme that is integrated into the project goals and objectives.
Donor: an individual or organization that provides funding. In this guide, the term “donor” will refer to institutional donor agencies which review grant proposals.
Gantt chart: chart that summarizes the schedule or timeline of project activities proposed. Similar to a workplan, timetable or schedule.
Impact: long-term result of project activities. Long-lasting effect of the activities undertaken by the project.
Indicator: measure of the result; the measures which will prove the success of the project.
Letter of inquiry: short letter sent to a prospective donor to determine donor’s interest in evaluating a full grant proposal. See Concept note.
Logical framework: AKA logframe; a management tool for effective planning and implementation of developmental projects; framework with clear, concise and systematic information about a project.
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E): an approach developed to measure and assess the success and performance of projects, programs or entire organizations.
Objective: specific target the project works to achieve within the stipulated time.
Outcome: medium-term result of project activities; result achieved after a period of time, but not immediately, after the completion of a project.
Output: short-term result of project activities; immediate result achieved at the completion of the project or project activity.
Program: portfolio comprised of multiple projects that are managed and coordinated as one unit with the objective of achieving (often intangible) outcomes and benefits for the organization.
Project goal: very general, high-level and long-term vision for the project.
Project: temporary entity established to deliver specific (often tangible) outputs in line with predefined time, cost and quality constraints.
Project rationale: an argument in favor of implementing the proposed project; a detailed explanation of why the project is required.
Proposal: a document which is used to request funding to implement a project.
Risk: an unplanned external factor which may occur and could negatively impact the project
Strategy: the broad concept of which activities are placed.
Sustainability: the ability of an NGO to continue a mission or a program indefinitely. Separate from environmental sustainability.
SWOT: Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats; the tool used for discussing the pros and cons of the organization that could impact the project.
Theory of Change: a methodology that defines long-term goals and then maps backward to identify necessary preconditions.