A project proposal is a document that defines the necessary steps towards solving a particular problem. It presents logical progression and description of the problem, the intended plan of action towards tackling the problem, and the budgetary requirement for the same. The proposal is submitted to donors in anticipation of funds to facilitate the implementation of the project and the realization of the intended social impact.

When writing a project proposal, close attention needs to be given at every stage of project development.


 The following points should be considered in project planning;

  • Identify the problem in the community that your project would solve,
  • Identify prospective funding agencies/donors, 
    • Who are the donors that you’ll be applying to?
    • Does the organization qualify the eligibility criteria set by the donor agency? 
  • Know what the donor is looking for,
  • Organize a good working team.

Most organizations pay little attention during the project planning phase, and this ultimately affects the quality of the proposal they come up with. 


Once the planning phase is done, the actual work of drafting the proposal starts. While writing the Project proposal, you will have to pay keen attention to the donor guidelines, the formatting, setting the right tone of the proposal, and developing a budget among others. It is important to pay attention to both steps (proposal planning and writing stages) in order to develop a good proposal. 

In brief, when writing a project proposal, the following tips will guide you; 

  • The project title should capture the essence of the project, 
  • Structure of the proposal properly by bringing in innovative ideas and elements in the project. 
  • Write the executive summary in a clear, succinct, and appealing manner. Be specific and to the point.
  • Including relevant examples in the proposal gives the donor an idea of how your organization has tackled similar situations earlier. 
  • When writing about the organization, do not brag about your achievements. In the section where you write about your organization, use language that does not appear to boast about you, instead proves to the donor that you're capable of handling and successfully completing the project. You can mention some achievements and awards that your organization has received for doing similar kinds of work. 

Use data and facts to support your case 

While writing the project rationale, quote facts and figures as evidence of the problem. The facts can be from data your organization has collected, or from research articles, government reports, news articles, etc. Always make sure the data you quote is up to date and is from credible sources. Avoid using data that is outdated or one you are not sure of the source.  

  • Project Goal should clearly indicate the purpose of the proposal. 

It is advisable that only the main goal is maintained in the proposal. The goal of the proposal should indicate the main purpose of the project, target beneficiaries, and specific aspects of the project. 

  • Write S.M.A.R.T. objectives; meaning  objectives should be;
    • Specific; addressing questions like "what is to be done?" "How will you determine that it is done?",
    • Measurable; addressing questions like "how will you know that it meets all the expectations?",
    • Attainable/ Achievable: addressing questions such as "can a person do it?",
    • Realistic; addressing questions like "should it be done?" or "why is it necessary for it to be done?" and "what impact will it have?"
    • Time-bound statements meaning "when will it be done?".  
  • Clearly describe the methodology that you will follow to achieve the desired goals/ objectives.  While writing the approach/ methodology of the project, clearly describe each and every activity you would implement. Give details of the strategy for example number of workshops to be organized, training, and or other activities to be carried out over a period of three months among others that you will adopt to align your project activities with the project goals and objectives. 
  • Use charts, flow diagrams, and info graphs to make the proposal. 

To make your proposal stand out, it is always better to use simple diagrams, maps, graphs among others rather than using plain text. The use of flow charts and diagrams helps the reader in understanding the context in a better way as well as making the proposal more tempting. 

  • Follow the specific guidelines. Under no circumstances, you should overstep the limits set in the donor guidelines, the number of pages, font size, line space, and many others. These should be as per guideline; remember they are there for a reason and therefore you should strictly follow them. 
  • Format the proposal properly, in a way that it looks attractive.  All paragraphs should be neatly aligned, use the same font type, and ensure all page numbers are correct. 
  • Get the proposal reviewed by your colleagues before submitting it. Go through all the comments given by the reviewers and accommodate their suggestions, criticisms, and correct errors and omissions suggested by them. The review helps in improving the quality of the proposal, goes through the proposal again and again to remove unnecessary details, grammatical and factual errors. 
  • Design the budget with the utmost care. 

Make sure all budget items meet the funding agency's requirements. Always prepare a narrative with the budget so as to explain the various expenses. It is important for the project budget to be aligned with the project activities and you should be able to justify all the costs that you mention.  

It is also good to have an evaluation or monitoring plan for the project. Donors tend to fund those projects that have an evaluation plan and monitoring structure. Having an evaluation plan in the proposal makes your organization be more accountable and enhances your chances of getting funded. 

With this tip into consideration, one can develop a strong project proposal that is attractive and competitive.

 Sharon Orina

(Head of Public Sector)