Guidelines For Proposal Writing And Preparing Budgets
Proposal writing is a challenging enterprise. These guidelines outline what the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) considers the main elements of a grant proposal. Underpinning guidelines are issues relating to clarity of proposals – relevance, eligibility criteria, scope, nature and limits of operations, focus-based approach, chronogram, planning, phased implementation of programs, and periodicity of grants. In preparing the proposal, the organization seeking a grant must demonstrate its capacity to address a need. But funders are diverse, and have different criteria for giving support. Prior to submitting a proposal, the grant seeker should research each funder’s mission, strategic priorities and budget. Indeed, the potential grantee greatly increases the likelihood of receiving funding by seeking support for respective components of its work from the appropriate source. The need expressed by the organization submitting a grant proposal should clearly fall into OSIWA’s priority areas. These areas include Political Governance, Economic Governance and Law, Justice and Human Rights. Organizations are encouraged to look for funding from other sources or for those components of the project that fall outside OSIWA’s mandate.
Generally funders provide funding for a project only when convinced that it is feasible and that the prospective grantee is capable of implementing it; consequently a well written proposal for a weak, unnecessary or infeasible project or; a poorly written proposal for a potentially good project may be denied funding. Further, even though applications for grants are assessed on individual basis, in cases where more than one application is received in respect of the same or similar project, and due to the unavailability of adequate funds to meet increasing demand the process becomes competitive. Consequently, well thought out, structured and written proposals are more likely to be given more favorable attention than those less carefully put together. As much as possible applicants are encouraged to be innovative; this does not necessarily mean coming up with proposals for new or first ever projects. The needs of the community should be the determining factor. The proposal must respond to a specific call for proposal and must be in line with the content of the call for proposal. Unsolicited proposals are not accepted. In order to be accepted by OSIWA, a proposal needs to be SMART. That is:
S: Specific, significant, stretching
M: Measurable, meaningful and motivational
A: Attainable, achievable, acceptable, agreed upon, and action-oriented
R: Realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T: Time-based, timely, tangible, track-able
These specific guidelines are central to the Monitoring and Evaluation process as they provide the basis for the discussion, screening and approval of applications as well as for the review and impact assessment of grants.
OSIWA requires all organizations seeking funding to fill out and submit the Application forms