What Else Is It Called?
• Project narrative
• Project explanation
When Is It Used? Always.
Why Is It Used?
The funder must have as complete a description as possible to choose from among the proposals received. Funders don't just fund good ideas. They fund well-thought out, workable projects. It is critical that the description clearly shows what you intend to do in the project, what resources your organization will contribute, and what role the funder is asked to play.
• No jargon—you do not know if readers will know your jargon, and it is imperative that the description is clear to readers.
1 Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), U.S. poet.
• Cover major project events.
• Major project events are in logical order.
• If there are any unusual budget requests, clearly show how they are necessary for project success.
• If there are technical issues, be sure that the lay person can understand your description.
• You may include a time chart and project organization chart if there is space.
Keep within required space limitations, never cheat. If the funder asks a list of questions about your project, answer them in the order in which the funder listed them. Repeat their question and then answer it. Never, ever leave a question out. Use 12-point type and do not cheat on margins.
If goals and objectives are written as we recommend (see Chapter 6), they can be used as an outline for creating the project description. They are the steps to completing your project mission. You should have developed your goals as the major steps to completing your project. You should have developed your objectives as the major steps to completing your goals. You are likely to have goals that involve the following items. Depending on the specific activities involved in your project, you may not have all of them.
• Project set-up, which may include such things as setting up advisory committees, hiring temporary staff, partner meetings, and planning sessions.
• Materials and training, which may include such things as designing training and delivery, setting up a library of materials for use during the project, development of curriculum for students, review of materials to purchase, and development of business, employee, and student manuals.
• Infrastructure set-up, which may include such things as building renovation, purchase of equipment, installation of equipment, and purchase of reference materials.
• Intake activities, which may include such things as creating written procedures for registering participants, scheduling, assigning intake activities to partners, and actually registering participants.
• Project implementation comes next in the scheme of things and may include such things as starting classes, beginning research, allowing participants to access information, beginning a study, opening the doors of a clinic, admitting patients, having a concert, or whatever it takes to launch your project.
• Project evaluation is a critical goal to the funder and should be a separate goal, including such things as surveys and questionnaires, statistical studies, outcomes for every goal and every objective, participant tracking, results of research, and results of tests.
• Project management is important as a goal to inform the funder that you know you have to effectively administer and fiscally manage your project. This goal can include such things as accounting, supervision, administration of tasks, project oversight and auditing.
You may not need all these goal topics for your project, but most projects will follow the general pattern listed above. If you cover all the ground listed in the goal template above, you will cover all the topics in which a funder is interested.
When formulating objectives, think of the steps (tasks or activities) you must take to accomplish each goal, and group like tasks together to form objectives. Keep your objectives in logical order to communicate clearly to the proposal readers, and to facilitate project management.
Notice that the goals in the last section are in roughly the order that you would do them to manage your project. Objectives should be also. If two things are being done at the same time, choose one to be listed first. Remember the reader does not know anything about your project—you are communicating with a lay person. We like to say "assume ignorance but not stupidity." The more logical your project plan sounds to the reader, the more the reader will be impressed with it and with your ability to manage the project to a successful ending.
Only cover major project events—do not get into small, nitty-gritty details, or you will confuse the reader. Stick to the main project outline as demonstrated in your goals and objectives. Use clear titles to separate different sections of your description. Make short, concise paragraphs of four to six sentences, and keep the sentences as short as possible to be readable.
If there is space, include a timeline. Some funders require a timeline in another section. If it is not required, it is a good idea to include it to clarify the work flow for the reader. Keep to the major benchmarks for the timeline. Nothing is worse than seeing a timeline that is so busy that it is impossible to read. Exhibit 7.1 presents a simple one that is made using the table function of a word processor. Other timelines will appear in other sections of this book.
Also, if there is space included, it is a good idea to include an organization chart. Again, do not show every aspect of your organization—just the parts of it that are important to the project. Be sure to show the project as integral to the organization by connecting it to a top manager, as we discuss under the chapter on continuation (Chapter 12). Exhibit 7.2 is a simple organization chart. Other organization charts will be illustrated in various sections of this book.
Each funder has certain things that are important to them. Sometimes they state those things outright, and sometimes you have to read between the lines. You must always research the funder and read all available material to uncover the hot buttons, and insure your project matches what they want to fund. Take an example from the Ford Foundation's Web site.
Family Crisis, Community Response
AIDS continues to devastate African societies, but in Kenya and Tanzania, community organizations are making a difference with programs that combine care, health, education, neighborhood activism and efforts to expand employment options for the poor. "Economic opportunity will reduce the transmission of AIDS" explains one expert, pointing to women who have used small loans to escape prostitution by selling produce or opening beauty salons and handicraft shops.
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