2. Plan Your Project (Practical Vision):
Perhaps you and your associates have many ideas of things you want to do; you see a need to reduce illiteracy, to reduce poverty, to provide safe drinking water, to improve the level of health, to provide training for disabled persons, and many other things. You must, however, choose a project that is very specific, limit your goal to a single desired solution to the highest priority problem.
Involve the whole community. In choosing your project, call a meeting and do not neglect to include the people who have been often neglected in the past, women, disabled, the very poor, those who have no voice in the way things are decided in the community. Make sure that the people who are supposed to benefiting your project feel that this is their project, for their benefit, and that they may contribute to it because it is theirs.
It is not enough, however, to choose your goal. Good planning is needed, identifying your available or potential resources, generating several strategies and choosing the most viable one, deciding how you are going to monitor (watch) the project to ensure that it stays on track (ie it continues to be consistent with your original desires) , ensuring that the accounting is both transparent and accurate, and deciding what is to be done when (a schedule) . A bit of research about the location, the population characteristics, the situation, the existing facilities, is needed in order to objectively describe the background to the project. Involving the community and the beneficiaries in this research is the best way to ensure that it is valid.
With the community or target group, use Brainstorming Principles and Procedures to outline a Plan or Project Design. Without allowing criticism, ask group members to contribute to each step of a brainstorming group process: what is the priority problem (list all, even the foolish statements; then rank them in order of priority) , facilitate the group to understand, therefore, that the goal is the solution to that identified problem. Help them to generate objectives (finite, verifiable, specific) from that general goal. Identify resources and constraints, then generate several alternative solutions, choosing the most viable. Other documents are available to explain the brainstorming process in more detail but this was a brief sketch.
With your background work behind you, you will want to start drafting your proposal. We highly recommend that you obtain resources (funds) from several sources. Do not let your organization or group become dependent upon a single donor.
Before you begin to write your proposal, keep in mind the following points:
1. It is necessary to find out in advance what sources of funding are available, through governments, United Nations agencies, some international NGOs or private foundations.
2. Most donors look for the degree of local initiative in the project proposal, the utilization of the available resources within the country itself and the plans for the project to be self-supporting once the initial funding has been spent.
3. Your project should be practical, not too costly, and have the potential for being repeated in other situations.
4. Increasingly, funding agencies are looking for integrated approaches to development projects. This means that you will want to see to what extent your project supports and supplements existing activities, and is designed to overcome identified problems.
5. Almost all UN and government agencies, foundations and private voluntary agencies have their own proposal format, that they will want you to follow. If you are not in contact with a local or regional representative, write a letter requesting information as to proper procedures, application format and funding requirements. While format varies, the same information is asked for by all agencies and foundations.
6. Find out the budgeting cycle of the agency, whether annual, quarterly or ongoing. Check to see if there is a closing date for application.
To be continued to CHAPTER III