- Read the call for proposals and take note of the scoring. Spend your time accordingly. If the management plan is worth five points, don’t spend two days of meetings sorting it out. Pick something good enough and move on to the sections that matter.
- Structure your proposal in exactly the same order as the request for applications. If the request mentions agriculture, nutrition, and family farming, your proposal should cover agriculture, then nutrition, then family farming. Your summary should be the same way. This makes it easy for donors to know you have covered everything they asked for.
- Don’t waste space on recapping basic situational data. If you can find it in the CIA World Factbook or the World Bank website, the donor already knows. Instead, spend your time giving your organization’s unique take on the situation. That’s your competitive advantage. For example, don’t tell the donor that only 20% of students complete eighth grade. Instead, tell them that school infrastructure is severely damaged. Then explain that according to your research, the damage is a major reason students drop out of school, contributing to a 20% graduation rate.
- Write really good budget notes. Make them clear and legible. Many donors will read the budget first, and good notes are your first chance to establish the high quality of the proposal.
- Tell, don’t show. This is not a screenplay and you aren’t aiming for art. If your approach is unique, innovative, or unprecedented, say so and say why. Give your readers the language they need to sell your proposal to each other and to decision makers.