So what is a proposal, you might ask?
A simple definition is an act of putting forward or stating something for consideration.
A proposal is not a brochure.
It is often a paper document of two to four pages that reflects a business plan.
It should be progressive and help move the reader from one point to another.
It will include analysis and facts that communicate thoughtful planning as it addresses an identified need.
Common barriers faced in writing a proposal:
Developing a proposal is labor-intensive.
When funding is needed immediately, a proposal can be overlooked, especially when a clear ministry plan hasn't been developed.
Anticipating that a relationship and history will be enough.
A proposal can feel less desirable when asking for financial support because of restrictions on how funds are allocated.
When you lack clarity about the information, your ministry partner needs to consider greater involvement.
Are proposals essential?
Serious potential financial partners expect to see something in writing.
It helps align understanding and expectations to help ensure good communication and clarity of focus.
It provides the potential ministry partner with something to review as they prayerfully consider what kind of investment the Lord would have them make.
Tools and skills that you need to develop an effective written proposal:
A compelling need.
Understanding the thinking of a potential ministry partner.
An outline that progressively frames the need.
Collaboration with the facilitators—those responsible for implementation.
Writing ability and time as you wordsmith the document until it's right.
A clear understanding of the financial need.
PROJECT PROPOSAL OUTLINE
Here is a proven template that you should use for all of your written project proposals: (often two pages front and back, but sometimes three to four pages in length, depending on the audience, objective, or need). The budget portion typically deals with a one-year need, but on some occasions, this could be for the needs of multiple years.
Please provide the project's name as it is or could be commonly known by donors.
Define, in one sentence, the purpose of the project or ministry initiative. Include the key audience(s), the key activities, and the expected results.
This segment should include three to ten paragraphs that describe the situation or need that is addressed. Think of this as the basis for the compelling reason to give. Including:
cultural realities, history, analysis of an identified problem
liabilities or barriers that could impact the objective
or conclusions that require attention.
This is where we want to briefly build a CASE for the need the project will address.
Plan of Action:
As an outline, use two or three paragraphs or an introductory paragraph with five to six bullet points. This will indicate what actions are being taken to address the CASE defined in the above segment.
Here, we need to outline in simple terms that donors can understand the handful of costs related to undertaking this project. There is no reason to use typical financial budgets; instead, formulate a budget of five to seven elements about the project. It is appropriate to break the total projected cost into segments, phases, or sequences.
For example: if the total is needed, how much is required by when? The figures of the budget should reflect donor dollars, not net ministry dollars. Define how much is required by specific dates to keep the project on track. Make sure the most critical dates are highlighted.
Positive Benefits and Outcomes:
Here, we will need to outline donor and ministry benefits and relate how these impact your ministry's mission. Keep the benefits to no more than five. These benefits are presented in terms that attract donor interest. The intent is to help the donors connect their investments with a program that results in something that the donors see as beneficial and worthy of their support.
List the organizations with whom you partner to accomplish your mission's objective. If you partner with numerous groups and churches, then state the number of established partnerships and the types of groups. Include two or three of the more influential or prominent organizations.
Persons Responsible for the Project:
In a sentence or two, provide some information about the ministry leaders responsible for this project's oversight. Provide information that shows that these individuals are qualified and prepared to see this project to completion. Demonstrate the likelihood of success because of the experience and expertise of those in charge. In some cases, this could refer to a team of experienced people who are doing the implementation. Briefly position them as capable of leading this initiative.
Providing More Information:
Here, you'll share who should be contacted for more information. Share the name, address, phone number, and email address of the development leader. Someone who can share more insight, detail, or answer questions that the donors might have regarding this project.
You can find some sample proposals listed on the Major Partners section of TeamGold. Study these and capture ideas that will aid your process. It might be beneficial to share a copy with your leadership so they can see how a completed written proposal looks.
Effective project proposals are critical to your success in working with major partners. There is a growing trend that individuals and foundations will be seeking appropriate documentation to justify giving.
Quick Tip: For projects requiring under $50,000, try to develop them in-house. When your project need exceeds $50,000 and is more complicated with phases and other issues, your ministry should consider outsourcing the work to a professional with experience in project proposal development.