NGO Funding Proposal Writer

How to write a funding proposal ?

What donor [ ] want?

Most donors want a range of things.

These include:

1. To make a difference. Donors want their money to count and the work they fund to be successful. More importantly, donors want to be seen to be / as successful.

2. To acquire knowledge, understanding and information. This has some ethical problems, if interventions are directly geared toward the generation of knowledge without clear and tangible outcomes to be attained by those receiving the development assistance.

3. To share knowledge, understanding, information, and, in so doing, add value to their chosen interventions.

4. To increase their influence in addressing what they consider to be the problems of the world, the region, the country, or a particular area.

What an NGO needs to find out about a donor in order to prepare for a funding proposal is given below:

1. Name, address, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address, name and title of the person the NGO should make contact with. This is the preliminary information which the NGO can get from the switchboard, from the donor's web page, from a directory, or from colleagues in civil society organizations.

2. The goals, mission and concern of the donor, including its areas of interest, whether it funds in particular geographical areas only, what its general funding criteria are, what else it funds. The NGO can get this kind of information from a web page or from a brochure or annual report, as well as from colleagues in civil society organizations.

3. What size of grant the donor usually gives.

4. What the donor's decision-making process is and how long it is likely to take for a decision to be made once the NGO submits a written proposal.

5. The dates when proposals are considered and the dates/deadlines for submission of proposals for consideration.

6. Whether the donor has a special proposal format the NGO should use, or guidelines the NGO should follow, or whether the NGO can use its own. Some donors may want a short preliminary proposal before asking the NGO to complete a full proposal. This enables them to make an initial judgment about whether or not they want to get involved in more detailed negotiations with the NGO.

When an NGO begins preparing a funding proposal, the NGO already needs to know, and have written down:

1. Who the NGO and it identity are.

2. What the NGO strengths and weaknesses are, and what opportunities and threats confront the NGO.

3. The NGO track record (what the NGO has achieved and what the NGO can show from past work that will give a donor confidence that the NGO is a "good risk."

Organizational identity

To present the NGO organizational identity, the NGO needs:

1. An overall mission and goal for the organization – why it exists, who it is intended to benefit, how it is linked to the intended beneficiary community and what it is committed to achieving through its work.

2. A board that provides the organization with a credible governance structure. This means that the NGO needs a short biography of each person, reflecting, for example, such factors as experience, community links, and gender.

3. Some organizations also have patrons. These are usually highly respected and well-known people who, although they do not have the time to be involved in the regular governance of the organization, are willing to lend their support and name to the cause and the organization.

4. Key staff or volunteers who are in place to make the organization and, therefore, the project, work. Here too the NGO wants to present brief biographies of the people who will be central in the project, showing why they are appropriate.

The initial step when the NGO plans a project is to make a strong link between the NGO's organizational mission and strategy and the specific project. It is a serious mistake to take as the NGO's starting point: "What can we get money for?"

An organization is a response to a problem or an opportunity in the environment. It is from this that the mission and strategy of the organisation flow. It is this that a strategic planning process should address. The projects the NGO plan and request funding for should be part of the NGO strategy, not just a way to raise money.

The NGO plan must reflect:

1. The NGO's understanding of the context and how this is reflected in the organization's mission and strategy;

2. The specific circumstances in the context that create the problem the project is meant to address and what that problem is;

3. The objectives of the project;

4. The process intended to achieve the objectives.


Some of the do's and don'ts of how an NGO should write the funding proposal follow.


1. Address the proposal to concerning dept. in donor organization.

2. Plan ahead so that the NGO proposal isn't rushed or crisis-related.

3. Show that the NGO knows who else is working in the field and what they are doing.

4. Involve others in editing the proposal.

5. Explain acronyms.

6. Keep it short – not more than 10 pages for the body of the proposal and less if possible.

7. Show that the NGO cares about the work –show some passion.

8. Pitch the tone correctly – be human rather than academic, let the human story come through, but don't go overboard on emotion.


1. Take a "one proposal fits all" approach

2. "Pad" the NGO budget to include things that are not relevant to the project.

3. Hide information the donor is entitled to.

4. Send so much documentation that the reader gives up before he or she begins.

5. Assume that the donor knows all about the NGO so the NGO does not need to bother to present itself well.

6. Use unnecessary jargon.

7. Make the project fit the donor criteria at the expense of what the NGO think needs to be done.

Prepared by Civicus: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Ozg Funding Consultant