Identify and Develop a Project that Supports your Organization's Core Mission
Although ideas for projects usually abound in non-profit organizations, proposal writers can try to generate fresh ideas by reading newspapers, journals or newsletters related to your organization's mission and talking to colleagues about what topics seem to be getting the most attention in your field. Try to find a unique approach to solving a problem or combination of problems. If the funder receives 10 proposals dealing with similar issues, any unique angle your proposal offers will help make it stick out in the reviewer's mind.
Brainstorming with stakeholders (the people who are supposedly going to benefit from the project) will help to generate ideas for projects. Involving stakeholders in the outline and design process will also make the project more practical and it will generate alternative methods for achieving the proposed objectives. Stakeholder involvement will also help ensure community support for the project during the proposal writing process AND after the grant is awarded!
However, it is not enough to have a good idea or goal. Good planning is needed to ensure the project's success. In addition to the brainstorming and clarification processes mentioned above, a proposal writer must also do research on the feasibility of the project. A few questions to ask during these processes are:
- What do you want to do, how much will it cost, and how much time will it take?
- What difference will the project make and for whom: your organization, your students, your field, the state, the nation, the world, etc.?
- What has already been done in the area of your project? By whom? What were the results?
- How does the project fit within the mission of your organization?
- Is the project strictly local in nature or can it be replicated in other places by other organizations?
- Can the problems you claim to be addressing actually be solved?
- How will you accomplish your goals? What is your plan?
- How will the results be evaluated?
- How will the project be maintained once it's implemented?
- Why should you (your organization), rather than someone else, do this project?
- Why should this project be done now?
Brainstorming Principles and Procedures: A Community Management Training Technique
These basic guidelines will help you lead a group to making a decision by consensus. The technique can be used in a variety of settings and is essentially a way to facilitate creative group decision making. Prepare a mini-proposal or short description of the project.