This module will convert your research into winning applications. We will take you through the complete process of developing and writing a successful funding proposal.
Firstly, we will look at the components of good project design – this is about the substance you are writing about. Is the content of good quality? Is there a sound project planning process? Is there a coherent Theory of Change and an effective monitoring and evaluation framework?
We will then look at how you then convert a well-designed project into a powerful proposal, in three different formats:
- Basic application forms
- The most complex application forms
- Informal proposals with no pre-determined formats
We will also share some change management techniques which will help you with the tricky challenges of building a bid development team. We have a series of workshops focussing on some time-honoured techniques for mastering brevity, becoming a trustworthy narrator and making sure that your writing is memorable.
2.1 Results Based Project Design
All winning proposals are built upon sound project management principles, it’s worth understanding these.
- Ability to describe the five elements of Results Based Management.
- Ability to design projects in a high quality and robust manner.
We’ll explain the differences between Impacts, Outcomes, Outputs, Activities and Inputs and reveal how a logically consistent project needs to be constructed. These principles of good project design can then easily be converted into funding proposals. Without these ingredients, even the most gifted writer can’t convert a flawed project into a successful funding proposal.
2.2 Introduction to Theory of Change
An increasingly common fundamental within all proposals. All grantseekers have to grasp these principles.
- Ability to understand the principles and structure of a Theory of Change
- Understand all of the key terms and acquire a basic level of expertise.
Theory of Change is a fundamental part of the international development landscape and it is becoming a more common requirement for UK grantseeking. As grantseekers, we need to know the principles and terminology, so that we can contribute to building a Theory of Change and clearly present it within a funding proposal.
2.3 Monitoring Evaluation and Learning
Unfortunately we have had to postpone this workshop. By 28th October, we will inform everyone who has booked regarding the new time and date, which is likely to be in mid-November. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience caused by this.
An essential component in any funding proposal or report; as grantseekers, we need to understand the logic beneath MEL systems.
- Understanding the principles of monitoring and evaluation.
- Ability to describe M&E effectively within your proposals.
We’ll explain the difference between process, outcome and composite evaluations and explore the range of monitoring methods. This session will help you to explain monitoring and evaluation in a precise and knowledgeable way.
2.4 The Art of Applications
How to master the formula for basic application form
- Understanding of the universal components within all application forms.
- Ability to develop answers to the key questions that funders ask.
We will explain the source and the rationale of the fourteen questions that underpin all application forms. We’ll explain the meaning of each question and their inter-relationships with each other.
We will give you a chance to assess your own proposals against these fourteen questions so that you have a self-assessment tool that you can use for all applications, whether in a form or less formal.
We’ll help provide answers for the questions that you and your organization will struggle with.
2.5 Mastering Complex Applications
Going beyond the basics to meet the demands of the sophisticated funders.
- Ability to interpret the underlying logic beneath contrasting application forms.
- Understanding of the definitions of the complex proposal terminology.
- Ability to develop your own portable concept note template.
How do you interpret and respond to a funding application with 34 pages of guidance notes? This session will equip you to rise to this challenge. We’ll look at three very different funders and show how there is an underlying consistency across their different application forms. We’ll make sure that you fully understand terms such as: ‘the enabling environment’ and the difference between ‘intervention logic’ and ‘intervention strategy’. As a ‘takeaway’, you’ll have a template for a concept note that will help you to describe all of your projects in a way that can be easily adapted for virtually every funder.
2.6 Managing the Bid Writing Team
It’s not just about the writing – maintaining collaboration and keeping everyone heading in the same direction is a massive challenge.
- Ability to use a planning to tool to assess the commitment of your colleagues and devise plans to improve the functioning of the team.
- Ability to use forcefield analysis to manage set aims and implement changes to the team activities and behaviours.
As grantseekers, we rarely have line management authority over everyone in the bid development team. This session will introduce two proven change management techniques that will help you to build and maintain a functioning team, that will take that bid ‘over the line’. We’ll use a case study as the central learning process, then guide you on how to apply these tools in your own context.
2.7 Persuasive Story Telling
When they don’t have an application form and they don’t tell what to say, how do you construct a proposal?
- Understanding of the six ingredients of a persuasive story.
- Understanding of the role of empathy and how to build this into your stories.
- How to use the ‘Disney Method’ to construct a powerful story.
We will take you through a six-stage process which will reveal a logical structure for persuasive storytelling. We will start with identifying the problem in factual and emotional terms, move onto the fears and the hopes and then developing a solution and proposition for the donor.
You’ll be able to practice crafting a story for your own organization using this technique.
2.8 Mastering Brevity
In the words of Oscar Wilde: “I haven’t got time to write you a short letter, so here is a long one.” Squeezing all your points into a tiny word count is an essential skill.
- Ability to reduce word counts by converting from passive to active voice.
- Ability to reduce word counts by using techniques to cut out unnecessary words.
We’ll explain the difference between active and passive statements and equip you to convert lengthy passive statements in direct and shorter active ones. We’ll also draw upon the wisdom of George Orwell to help you write with greater clarity, less jargon and less words. We’ll use case studies to learn and then help you to apply these techniques within your own writing.
2.9 Memorable and Trustworthy Writing
Good writing needs to be accurate and picturesque.
- Ability to identify the key point you want to emphasize and use a ‘dissonant’ technique to ensure that it is memorable.
- Ability to insert appropriate detail into proposals, in order to convince readers of the accuracy of your writing.
The grantmaking process usually involves someone condensing your extensive proposal into a short summary for a committee. You need to equip your reader to write on your behalf. So, you need to make sure that your most important point is retained. We’ll explore the world of abstract art to show how dissonance (rule breaking) is a powerful tool for recall. You also need to be a trustworthy narrator, and we’ll share the techniques within Homer’s Odyssey to equip you to present your information with accuracy.