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PROPOSAL WRITING HANDBOOK
 
 

Dr. R. S. Zaharna
Fulbright Scholar
Center for Studies, Consultations
& Technical Services
An-Najah National University
Nablus

June 1997
(Internet: June 2001)
 



Contents

Appreciation & Thanks

Note to My Reader
 

                                                                                                                  .
GETTING STARTED . . .

Components of a Proposal
Tips for a Successful Proposal
Developing a Two-Way Relationship with the Funder
Goal Worksheet
WRITING THE SECTIONS OF YOUR PROPOSAL

 Section I: Project Proposal

 Section II: Project Formulation / Methodology  Section III:  Project Evaluation
   Section IV:  Budget ATTACHMENTS -- What to Include with Your Proposal FINAL NOTE TO READER

How You Can Contact Me



Note of Appreciation & Thanks
 

I wish to thank An-Najah National University, and specifically its president, Dr. Munther Salah, and Dr. Abdelfatah Abu Shokoor, the Director of the Center for Studies, Consultations and Technical Services, who provided encouragement and assistance for the preparation of this workbook. I also thank the Fulbright Commission which has made my stay at An-Najah possible. Finally, and always, many thanks to my supportive family Reema, Yahya, & Ibrahim!

rsz


Note to Reader

 It was once said that a nation in the midst of development is a nation in a hurry. Perhaps no where is this phrase more true than in Palestine today. We are very much "a nation in a hurry." We are eager to build our institutions, reform our educational system, develop our infrastructure, create an efficient health care system -- build a nation.

 However, while our goal is clear and our energy great, our resources are limited. Where will the resources come from? One source is the great amount that is available through outside, international sources of funding. Many funding agencies are willing and eager to provide funding for development projects. Some are especially keen on helping Palestinian institutions. Also, many research and academic foundations have as their primary mission the goal to increase knowledge and understanding in a particular field of study. A creative academic can design a research program that not only meets the Funderís scholarly mission, but which also provides valuable information for development projects.

 Funding clearly exists. The challenge is how to obtain it.

 This workbook was written with the goal of helping Palestinian institutions and individuals develop high-quality, professional proposals for Western funding agencies. Poorly written, undeveloped, and unsophisticated proposals do not get funded -- and these types of proposals are obvious to a Funder who must review hundreds of proposals a year. Successful proposals are also obvious. Successful proposals have a professional appearance, a powerful idea that is clearly explained, and a persuasive argument that makes the Funder eager to say "Yes!"

 There is a technique to writing successful proposals. First, one needs to develop a sophisticated approach to thinking about and writing a proposal. Second, one needs knowledge of the components of a proposal; what is the purpose of each component and how should it be written. Finally, one needs to know how to combine these various components in order to present a complete proposal package.

 This workbook takes a step-by-step approach, look at each of these three elements. The first section looks at the "Thinking" behind a successful proposal. The second major section examines each of the proposal components and how to write them clearly and persuasively. The final section provides the "finishing touches" on how to assemble a high-quality, professional proposal.

 Throughout the workbook, I have included hints or tips. I learned these points through making many mistakes -- I was NOT successful when I first began preparing proposals. But, I took the advice of a wise person, "If you submit a proposal, you may or may not get funding. However, if you do not submit a proposal, it is guaranteed that you will not get funding. Be persistent! Apply and re-Apply!"

 I advise you to do the same -- "Be persistent!" Develop your proposal writing skills, develop excellence. Your success, God willing, will follow.
 


GETTING STARTED . . .
This section provides an introduction to the proposal writing process. It lists the basic components that are found in successful proposals and discusses important points to remember when developing your proposal idea.
  • Components of a Proposal
  • Tips for a Successful Proposal
  • Developing a Two-Way Relationship with the Funder
  • Worksheet for Matching Goals

  •  
     
     
     


    Components of a Proposal
    A complete and professional proposal consists of several important components, which together, give the Funder a full picture of what you want to do and why. Although you may find that Funders use different terms for the various components, you want to make sure that your proposal contains all of these essential components.
         
      1. Cover letter
      This a very short note which states that you are submitting a proposal. It provides important information about what you are including with your proposal (any attachments such as an application form, resume, or reference letters) as well as information how to contact you (address, phone and fax numbers).

      2. Application Form
      This is an official form which a Funder may require from people wishing to submit a proposal. Not all Funders have application forms.

      3. Proposal Text
      Most proposals consist of several sections or parts. The first section, "Project Proposal" provides information about what you want to do and why it is important. The section, "Project Methodology" discusses how you will do it. The third section, "Project Evaluation," tells what you expect to achieve and how you will demonstrate or evaluate these achievements. The final section, "Project Budget," presents how much you expect each item for the project to cost and why each item is important to complete the project.

      4. Resume / Curriculum Vitae
      Resume is usually the term used for professionals such as managers, engineers, administrators, etc. who want to highlight their professional experience. Curriculum Vitae is usually the term used for academics who what to highlight their education, university teaching, and publications.

      5. Reference Letters (if required)
      Some Funders may ask for "Reference Letters" or have "Reference Forms" which they will ask you to submit as an attachment to your proposal.


    Tips for a Successful Proposal

     Even before your begin to write your proposal, you want to keep the following important points in mind.

      1. Think of your proposal as your PERSONAL Representative
      You may not have the opportunity to meet with the people who make the decision about your proposal. Therefore, your proposal must be your representative. Think about how you would like your PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE to be. 2. Think HIGH-QUALITY and PROFESSIONAL
      Most Western Funders do not operate by "wasta." In fact, some are very careful to use an objective, unbiased way of selecting proposals and frown upon any personal relations connected with a proposal. These type of Funders select proposals based on the quality and merits of the proposal itself. They are looking for high-quality, professional proposals. They want excellence and reward excellence.

      3.  Know your goal

      Your goal is NOT to get lots of $$$$ or to travel -- the money or travel is the means to achieve your goal. Your goal is to do your project, or get assistance for your research, or to develop your program. This is your goal. Many people make the mistake of trying to explain why the money is important. Instead, they need to explain why the project, research or program is important.

      4. Try to highlight what is UNIQUE or DIFFERENT about your project
       Because Funderís receive so many proposals, one way to make your proposal stand out is to highlight a unique feature that shows that your project, program or research is different and special from all the others. Does your research methodology propose an approach that other researchers have overlooked? Does your program include a special component that other institutions do not have? Does your project offer an additional benefit beyond what would normally be expected? Highlight these points. Make your idea unique.

      5. Know your Funder -- Think of the Funding RELATIONSHIP
      Many people make the mistake of thinking that the proposal and awards are one-way: YOU --> $$$ --> ME.   Or, you give me money.

      You want to think of the proposal as a two-way RELATIONSHIP between you and the Funder. What can you offer or give to them? How much do you know about the Funder so that you know what to give in this two-way relationship? Because this point is so important, the next section looks at how to develop this relationship.

      6. Follow the Funderís Procedures & Work with THEIR SYSTEM
      Nearly all Funders have specific procedures which they request that applicants follow. It is important to learn the procedures and follow them exactly. Because Funders usually receive so many applications, it is easy to simply disqualify an applicant who does not follow the procedures. You want to follow the rules carefully, pay special attention to every detail, respond immediately to any requests, and show that you are competent, able, and cooperative.

       Donít try to change the rules or make yourself into a "special case" that needs "special attention." To a Funder who must work with many proposals, a "special" case usually means a "problem" case -- the person has difficulty understanding the procedures, isnít competent or professional, canít meet deadlines, or canít follow simple directions -- this is a bad sign from the very beginning.
       

      7. Make the language CLEAR
       I am a native speaker of English. BUT, before I submit any proposal, usually ask several people to read over my proposal to see if they can understand the general ideas I am trying to convey. After I do that, I hire a professional editor to review and edit my writing so that the language flows effortlessly for the reader.

      Why? Because researchers have discovered that proposals that can be read in one sitting have a greater chance of being accepted. A reader who must struggle through the language is less likely to read the proposal in its entirety or understand the real aim or significance of the proposalís purpose. Also, the money spent to hire a good editor is minimal compared to a proposal award worth $60,000, or $8,000.


    Developing a Two-Way Relationship with the Funder
      2. Speak specifically about the Funderís interests.
      Try to specifically highlight points that the Funder is interested in. For example, if one of the Funderís goals is to "improve the condition of children," make sure to speak about how your project or research specifically helps children.
       

      3. Speak the Funderís language.
      You can even use some of the same language and wording from the Funderís materials in your proposal. For example, if the Funder talks about the "important role higher education plays in development," you can include the phrase "the importance of higher education in development" in your proposal.
       

       4. Include the Funderís name.
      Just as you would use the personís name when you are talking to someone, you can use the Funderís name in writing your proposal.

       Example:
                  "I was enriched by that opportunity to help bridge cultures and peoples through my expertise in communication. Now, through this Fulbright scholarship, I am hoping to do the same once again."
       

      5.  Try to match your goal with the Funderís goals and requirements.
       MOST IMPORTANT -- find out what the Funderís goals are and then try to prepare your proposal so that it specifically addresses the Funderís goals. Be creative. Learn to be flexible -- change the time period you think you need to match to time period of the grant, or think of how one aspect of your project can possibly fit with an interest of the Funder, or break your project into smaller units to match the funding amount available.

       Some researchers or institutions insist that their project can only be done in a certain way. Unfortunately, this very rigid thinking causes them to lose valuable funding opportunities. The irony also is that those who do get funding awards, continue to get MORE and LARGER awards in the future. Why? Because even if the person/institution received a small grant in the past, this shows the Funder that others have been willing to invest money in this person/institution and thus the current Funder is more likely to invest also.
       



     
     

    Worksheet: Matching Goals

    I would recommend using this worksheet to outline your goals and the Funderís requirements. With this information in front of you, you can then begin to construct your proposal.
    Funderís Goal  &   Your Project

     

    SECTION I: Proposal Introduction

     
     The first section of your proposal presents what you want to do in your project, program, or research and why it is important. Although Funders may use different terms -- or even no terms -- you want to make sure this section includes the following important elements:
     

    Project Statement
     The project statement is a short, clear statement that gives the main idea of the project. Usually the project statement is one or two sentences, and not longer than a paragraph.

     Because Funders have many proposals to review, they like to see what the person intends to do in the very first sentence. So, even if there is not specific "Project Statement" required, I would recommend writing a project statement and putting that sentence as your first sentence.
     The project statement should answer the questions of who, what, why, when, and how.
     

                                            what major activity?                                         what are the long-term benefits?

    Sample Project Statements

    NOTE: Look for the who, what, where, when, why, and how in each of these project statements.
     
     

    Example A

     The aim of this project is to provide a series of week-long proposal writing workshops for professionals and academics in major Palestinian institutions. The goal of these workshops is to help Palestinian institutions increase the quality of the proposals they submit to international funding agencies so that more institutions will be successful in receiving the necessary funds to achieve their development goals.
    Example B
     The proposed counseling project seeks to provide professionally-trained guidance counselors throughout the Palestinian public school system over a two-year period.
    Example C
     The goal of this research project is to identify major factors that influence foreign investors in their decision to invest in the local Palestinian economy. This information will help policy makers and the local community provide a more favorable environment for investors.

    Project Rational
     The Project Rational provides important and relevant information about how the problem developed and what its current status is. The section should present a clear and pressing problem that needs a solution. Your proposal should show how your project will address some aspect of that solution.

    The Project Rational is usually about 2-3 pages. Each paragraph contains a main idea that is developed. This section is important because it gives the Funder a good idea about the expertise and knowledge of the proposal writer.

    It is important in this section to research your information carefully. The more you can use specific numbers and information, the more knowledgeable you will appear to the Funder. This will help build your credibility with the Funder. This is also the section in which you can begin to build a strong argument that can persuade the Funder to accept your idea.
     


    What  to include in PROJECT RATIONAL
     

    1.  Present a clear and pressing problem.
    Most Funders receive many proposals, and usually much more than they have money to fund. Because of this, Funder tend to prioritize, or put the most important projects first. In order to convince the Funder to give the highest priority to your project, you must show that there is a great need or urgency for doing your project at this time.

    To show a great need, you can tell how many people are affected, or how many people will benefit from your project. You can talk about how long the problem has existed, and what the consequences have been. Use numbers and statistics. Explain why it is important to act now. Explain each point you are making. Make sure the importance of the problem is clear -- not just to you, the Palestinian people who can see the problem daily -- but to someone reading your proposal who may be living thousands of miles away and who can only see the problem by what you explain to him.

    2. Provide important background information.
    Part of presenting a clear and pressing problem is explaining how the problem began and how it has developed. You want to research the problem and become very knowledgeable about every aspect. Although you cannot present too much information, you do want to be able to put the problem in context.

    3. Give current status of the problem.
    After you have provided background on how the problem developed, you then need to discuss what the current status of the problem. How many people are being affected? Why is the problem continuing? What are the ramifications or consequences of the problem if it continues?

    4. Show how your project will provide a solution to the problem.
    The final step is to propose your solution to the problem. You do not have to solve the WHOLE problem. In fact, it may be unrealistic and even unwise to tackle a large problem at one time if it is a developmental problem that needs to be addressed in stages. However, you must show clearly how the project you propose will address some aspect of the problem. Highlight what you expect the benefits will be by doing the project, how many people will benefit, etc.

    Ways to make the PROJECT RATIONAL stronger

      The format above outlines the basic ingredients of the Project Rational. However, because the Project Rational is important for building a strong, persuasive argument, there are several technique you can use to strengthen this component.
       

      1. Try to contrast a VERY BAD problem with a VERY GOOD solution.
      The format I outlined above is really a based on a persuasive technique. First, you present a big, bad problem (you magnify the problem, make it big). Second, you show the consequences of not solving the problem (you create urgency). Third, you solve the problem (you give a specific solution that will provide timely and significant benefits).

      You can use this technique when writing your project background. When you describe the problem, you want the problem to appear big, bad, important, and urgent. When you describe your part of the solution, you want it to be specific, beneficial, significant, and timely.

      2. Use research to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise.
      In this section, you have the chance to show your knowledge and expertise. You can do this by carefully researching the problem and providing detailed information. Try to avoid being general or vague. For example, instead of saying "many Palestinian institutions are affected," try to provide statistics, "approximately 250 institutions throughout the West Bank and Gaza are affected." In addition to showing your knowledge on a subject, numbers help show the magnitude and importance of a problem.

    3. Only provide information that directly relates to the problem.
    Sometimes people put too much information in their proposals. Instead of talking about how and why their specific institution developed, they go back to the beginning of the conflict and talk the development of the Palestine Question and the importance of the Intifadah. The Intifadah was very important. But, books have been written on it. Also, most Funders are familiar with Palestinian history, including the Intifadah. However, what they may not know is the relationship between the Intifadah and your institution or research. This may be important. If it is, this is what you need to focus on.

    Sample Project Rational

    NOTE: Even if the reader only reads the first sentence of each paragraph, he can quickly grasp the central problem and what needs done. Usually, the first sentence gives the main idea, and the rest of the paragraph provides additional detail.
     

     "As more and more Palestinian institutions seek to participate in the development process of their society, they are finding that there is a strong competition for limited resources and funding. Increasingly, these institutions are having to turn to outside donors for financial support.

    However, while international funding is available, the Palestinian institutions must first write a funding proposal. An institutionís ability to write a strong, clear, and proper proposal has become absolutely critical to the institutionís success in receiving the necessary funding. Poor proposals do not get funded -- no matter how "great" the researcherís idea or institutionís program may be.

    Unfortunately, many Palestinian institutions and researchers are unfamiliar with the necessary components of a successful proposal. Others do not understand the proposal writing process or the funding procedures. Cultural barriers and misunderstandings may also defeat a well-conceived idea or needed program.

    The aim of the proposed project is to provide institutions and academics with the knowledge and skills they need to prepare successful proposals. The project consists of a series of workshops, each addressing the individual skills and knowledge one needs to know about a proposalís components. The trainer will help the participantís identify critical ingredients that are often overlooked because of lack of familiarity or cultural reasons."
     
     


    Project Objectives
    The Project Objectives outline specific activities to achieve your project or research goal. Usually Project Objectives are presented in a set format and provide specific information about the who, what, where, when, and how of a project.
    To prepare your project objectives, you want to do the following:
     

    Example

     The specific objectives of this SAMPLE project include:

    (a) To provide basic information to Palestinian professionals about the           proposal writing process;

    (b) To improve the quality of the proposals submitted by Palestinian professionals, academics and institutions to international funding agencies; and

    (c) To develop a cadre of trainers who can teach the proposal writing process in the future.
     
     


    Project Significance
    The Project Significance may reinforce some of the points you may have made earlier in the Project Rational. However, by putting a separate section, you have the opportunity to strengthen your argument for your project even more. In this section you want to try to highlight some of the points below.

     
     
     
     


    SECTION II:
    PROJECT FORMULATION or METHODOLOGY


    Project Formulation For Institutions
    If you are an institution talking about developing a program, you will probably want to use the terms "Project Formulation." The term "Project Methodology" is usually used by academic researchers.
    The Project Formulation usually contains several critical ingredients:
  • 1. Project Objectives (if not previously stated, or sometimes restated)
  • 2. Project Organizational Structure and Personnel
  • 3. Target Audience
  • 4. Project Activities and Implementation
  • 5. Project Evaluation*
  • * "Project Evaluation" is an important element of both research and institutional proposals. It is discussed as Section IV of the Proposal.
     
     


    Project Objectives
    Sometimes the Project Objectives are put or are restated even more specifically in the Project Formulation section of a proposal submitted by an institution. Note the detail of the Project Objectives in the example below.
    Sample:

    Aims & Target Objectives

    The overall aim of the proposed project is to develop an in-school counseling program for the Palestinian school system. Delineated within this broader goal are three specific objectives: (1) to provide counseling services for 500 schools, with a total pupil population of 227,100; (2) to develop the awareness of school personnel of the role and benefits of counseling within the school; and (3) to provide professional training for school counselors and supervisors.
     


    Project Organizational Structure & Personnel
    Because more money is usually involved institutional awards than in individual ones, showing accountability and responsibility is an important part of an institutionís proposal. This can be done by discussing the organizational structure of the institution and highlighting those departments or individual who will be directly involved in the project. If outside personnel such as consultants or trainers will be hired for the project, they should also be included under some branch of the institution.
    You can present the Organizational Structure first in narrative form, using sentences and paragraphs to present who is in charge of what and what their responsibilities and duties are. You may then want to present an "Organizational Chart" to show the chain of responsibility.

     ** Reminder: You want to include the resumes of all personnel associated with the project.


    Target Audience
    You may have referred to who will benefit and why from the project in the Project Significance section. As part of the Project Formulation, the target audience should be identified with specific numbers. Note the detailed presentation of the example below. First the target audience is presented in narrative form. Directly below it is a visual presentation, followed by more details.
    Sample:
     
    Target Group

     While the program focuses on developing the skills of counselors, the ultimate beneficiaries of the program are the school pupils. By helping pupils overcome their psychological problems, the number of pupils who drop out will be reduced. It is also expected that pupilsí achievement will improve. The student distribution is presented below.

    Directorates          Pupils*      School Counselors Counseling Supervisors
    Gaza                       108,800                 68                              02
    West Bank             118,300               120                              11

    Total                        227,100               188                              13

    It is hoped that the program can be expanded to include the total student population for Gaza and the West Bank. Currently in Gaza, 108,800 pupils out of a total of 126,210 pupils and 136 public schools out of a total of 150 public schools are participating in the counseling program. In the West Bank, 188,300 student out of a total of 321,621 pupils and 364 public schools out of 927 public schools are covered in the counseling program.

    Project Activities
    The next thing you need to discuss in the Project Formulation are the specific activities. If there are several different types of activities, they should be grouped together and put under specific short headings, such as "Training," "Research," or "Pilot Project."

    Each activity should be discussed as clearly and comprehensively as possible.

    The best way to do this is to go step-by-step. Write as if you were writing how to bake a cake or how to assemble the engine of a car. What do you do first? What do you do second? What you do third?

    When you present each step, explain why it is important. Explain why it is the best approach. Explain how it relates to the step before it. Explain how it relates to the overall project goal. Explain. Explain. Explain.

    Proposed Activities (checklist)
     - what are the specific activities?
     - are activities stated clearly?
     - do activities clearly relate to the project goal?
     - are the activities achievable?
     - is the personnel qualified to conduct the activities?

    Resources
     - what resources are available?
     - what additional resources are needed? why?


    Sample -- Program Activitites & Project Implementation
      1. Training
      A major component of the program entails upgrading the skills of the counselors and counseling supervisors. There are several training levels to be conducted locally within Gaza and the West Bank. The local training has three levels of training for counselors and counseling supervisors: (1) pre-assignment orientation session; (2) basic counseling skills training; and (3) advanced counseling and supervision skills training.

      The Pre-assignment Orientation Session consists of 30 hours of training for the 13 counseling supervisors and 188 counselors (201 total trainees). It is envisioned that there will be 10 sections of this Orientation session with approximately 20 trainees in each section. The Pre-assignment Orientation Session will cover such topics as self-exploration, characteristics of counselors, and how to write a counseling plan for the school.

        ** ETC., each training level is discussed in the same manner.
       

      2. School-Based Pilot Project
      About 200 schools will be selected to participate in a school-based pilot project aimed at strengthening the efforts of individual schools to incorporate counseling efforts in their school. Each school will work closely with one counselor. A school will be accepted into the project only if two-thirds of its staff have shown commitment to the required training and a willingness to participate actively in the activities.

      Each school participating in the pilot project will receive a set amount of funds which it can use to develop counseling related activities. The objective of these activities are to help improve student-teacher relations, the school environment and studentsí motivation to learn, and teacher awareness regarding social problems that their students may encounter at home. Such activities may include holding parentsí meetings and seminars, enhancing the school environment, and improving the existing counseling facilities.
       

       3. Evaluative Research & Assessment Studies
      The Ministry of Education plans to conduct research surveys of key publics within the school system. The Ministry views these studies as critical to its ability to identify problem areas, to monitor program implementation, and to assess the overall effectiveness of the Counseling Development Program. The Ministry envisions a total of five separate studies.

        *** ETC. Each of the 5 studies are then explained in detail.


    SECTION III: PROJECT EVALUATION
    This section looks at the elements of the evaluation procedures. It is important for both institutions and individuals to state what they expect to be the project outcome or results and show how these results can be demonstrated.
     
     

    Project Outcomes
     
    3.  Highlight "Project Sustainability"
    Often, Funders contributing to development programs are concerned not only with the immediate results, but the long-term results as well. They want to see that the benefits of the project will not stop after the project funding ends. For this, they are looking for "Project Sustainability." They want to see what activities are in place which will help this project continue into the future. You want to stress project continuity throughout your proposal when you discuss the various features. You may also include a special heading under your Evaluation Procedures which discusses project sustainability.

    Explaining the Time Frame
    Often it is helpful to include a "Timeline" to show when you will conduce each activity. A timeline is useful because it immediately shows the relationship among the activities. I usually include the Timeline at the end of the proposal, after Project Evaluation, since by then I have discussed all of the activities of the project.

    In preparing your timeline, you list the time sequence (hours, days, weeks, or months) across the top of the page. You list the activities down the side of the page. Then, for each activity, you write the name of the activity and mark of the duration for the activity. First you give a narrative statement of the time frame for the activities. Then, you can provide the visual representation of the timeline.
     

    Sample:     Time Sequence (narrative form)
     
    The proposed project will be implemented over a two-month period. The first two weeks will be devoted to collecting information on the selected institutions who have agreed to participate in the study. The following two weeks will be devoted to interviewing key personnel identified in the project methodology. The fifth and sixth weeks will be devoted to analyzing the data and writing up the research findings. The seventh week will be used to prepare and present the research findings, in their preliminary form, to the conference committee. The eighth and final week will be used to prepare the final report.
    Sample:   Project Timeline   (visual graph form)
     

    ACTIVITY                  Week 1         Week 2         Week 3         Week 4         Week 5

    Train Interviewers    _______>
    Conduct Interviews                         ______>
    Analyze Data                                                        ________________>
    Prepare Final Report                                                                                         ______//
     
     



     
    PROPOSAL SECTION VI:
    BUDGET



    Some Funders require you to prepare a budget. This section looks at tips for preparing a budget and then provides a sample budget and budget rational.


     
     


    Tips for Preparing Your Budget


    1. Think like an accountant.
    In your budget you want to demonstrate sound financial planning and management. You want to think very careful about how much money you need for each specific budgetary item. What is necessary? Look at each item and be very specific and provide details. How much does each unit cost? How much will 3 units cost? How much does something cost for 6-months? for three-years? How much is the salary if the person is only working 25% of the time for 2 years?

    Some people make the mistake of giving just a general amount. For example, the project will cost $5,000. Then, they do not say specifically how the money will be used. This type of thinking does not show responsible financial management or any kind of financial planning. It is a clear sign to the Funder that the person may be unable to manage his project responsibly.

    2. Include all expected costs.
    It is important to show responsible financial planning. To do this, try to be very specific and accurate about what items you really do need -- and include all of them with their specific, detailed costs.

    It is equally important not to make up items or adding extra items. Some people try to "play" with budget and put in items that they donít need in order to get more money than they actually need. No matter how much one tries to hide these items, they usually standout. Funders take great offense to this practice. If, however, you plan your budget carefully, and include all the necessary items you will probably find at the end of the project that you have more than enough funds to complete your project.

    3. Find official or documented sources to obtain cost amounts -- do not guess.
    Again, you want to think like an account and be professional in where you obtain the cost estimates for your budgetary items. Try to locate official sources to quote exact amounts of items. For example, if your project requires you to travel to France, call a standard air carrier and get the estimated amount for the time period you intend to travel. If you will be staying France for two days, call the French Consulate and try to find the average cost of a hotel room. Find the official per diem rate. You can find standard costs for equipment by contacting the procurement office of one of the ministries.

    Some people do not know how much an item costs, so they guess. Others, think about how much they paid for a similar item they bought for their home, and put that amount. This is okay for oneís home, but not for a professional budget. For every item you include in your budget, find an official source to quote the amount you are using. This is the way Funders calculate their budgets, so you need to do the same.

    4. Be specific and accurate about all figures you quote.
    Once you obtain a cost estimate from an official source, state the amount accurately. Do not try to exaggerate the amount. Funders take offense to this practice. Also, because most Funder have worked with so many proposals, any type of exaggerated amount will usually standout.
    5. Use a standard budget format.
    Even if you are not an accountant, your budget should look neat and professional. Usually budgetary items are listed in a specific order: (1) Personnel costs; (2) Equipment costs; (3) Travel; (4) Training costs; (5) Materials and Office Supplies. Under each of these headings, list each specific item and its cost. Make sure the number columns are correctly ordered and the $ signs in their proper place. Underline subtotals and total amounts.
    6. Show brief calculation of cost in the itemized budget.
    In the "Itemized Budget," you only need to put very brief, math calculations for each item. In the "Budget Rational," you need to explain how you made each calculation and state the itemís importance to the project, even if it is something obvious like office supplies.

    Sample:  Project Overview & Budget
    The next pages show a sample itemized budget for a research project that I made up. I did not include all the items, but only the main items to give you an idea of how to present the different items and how to order your budget. For your own project, you want to include all items.
    Sample: Project Overview
     
    I am a communication scholar working in one of the research centers of a Palestinian university. As part of my research in public communication, I want to learn what are the best ways to communicate health information to specific audiences within the Palestinian society.

    For my sample research project, I want to conduct two surveys of the mothers in Balata refugee camp about their knowledge of nutrition and personal hygiene. The first survey will be one month before the Palestinian Ministry of Health conducts its nutrition information and education campaign. The second survey will be conducted 6 months after the health campaign.
    I want to study the types of information materials that were used in the information campaign and then see if there was any change in the motherís knowledge following the campaign.

    I am the "principal investigator," or the one who is primarily responsible for this research project. I have determined that I will need help conducting my research, so have included a research assistant, an statistician, and a typist in my budget.

     Because the university center I am working with has limited resources, and because the Funder specifically allows for "Equipment," I am including office equipment as part of my budget.

    Because the information I will learn from my project is important to international organizations involved in development projects, I want to present my research findings at an international conference. The Funder also specifically allows for "Conferences and Travel," so I am including this as part of my budget.

    Finally, there are materials and general supplies that I will need for my project, I am listing each one of these.

    AGAIN -- I made this ALL up. It is an EXAMPLE!


    Sample Budget:
     
     

    Research Project (for 2 Years)

    Project Personnel

    1.  Principal Investigator
     (salary; 25% of time devoted  to project for 2 years)                        $6,000

    2. Research Assistant
     (120 hours @ $5 per hour)                                                                        600

    3. Statistician
     (50 hours @ $10 per hour)                                                                        500

    3. Typist
     (75 hours @ $2 per hour)                                                                          150

                                                                             Subtotal Personnel     $7,250

    Project Equipment

    1. Computer
     (2 computer @ $2,500)                                                                        $5,000

    2. Computer modem
     (2 computer modem @ $350)                                                                  700

    3. Computer printer
     (1 computer printer @ $2,000)                                                              2,000

    4. Computer supplies
     ($750 x 2 years)                                                                                      1,500

    5. Computer software
     (1 statistical package @ $350)                                                                350

    6. Video camera and accessories
     (1 video camera @ $2,500)                                                                  2,500

                                                                           Subtotal Equipment   $12,000
     

    Conference Travel

    1. Airfare
     (1 round-trip ticket to France)                                                               $ 850
    2. Hotel accommodations
     (4 nights @ $150 per night)                                                                     600
    3. Food and expenses
     (4 days @ $45 per day)                                                                           180

                                                                          Subtotal Conference    $1,630

    Materials & Supplies

    1. Paper and office supplies
     ($450 x 2 years)                                                                                     $900

    2. Photocopying
     ($125 x 2 years)                                                                                       250

    3. Postage, fax, and telephone
     ($325 x 2 years)                                                                                       650

                                                                             Subtotal Materials    $1,800

                                                                          PROJECT TOTAL     $22,680
                                                                            __________________________
     


    Sample Budget Rational:   Research Project

    Project Personnel

    1.  Principal Investigator: Principal investigator will devote 25% of time over a two year period to conduct project. Figure calculated on a base salary of $12,000 per year.

    2. Research Assistant: Research assistant is needed to provide 120 hours of work. Figure calculate at standard rate of $5 per hour.
     

    Project Equipment

    1. Computer: Request two computers, 1 computer for principal researcher and 1 computer to be shared by the research assistant and statistician. Figure calculated at $2,500 per computer.

    3. Computer printer: Request computer printer to facilitate the work of the project. Figure calculated at $2,000 per printer.

    4. Computer supplies: Request computer supplies to cover costs of maintaining and facilitating the project over a 2-year period. Figure estimated at $750 per year.

    5. Computer software: Request SPSS-X Windows software program to conduct statistical analysis for the project.

    6. Video camera and accessories: Request video equipment to document human subjects and supplement statistical findings of project. Equipment calculated at $2,500.
     

    Conference Travel
    1. Airfare: Request funds to travel to UNESCO Conference in Paris to present findings of research. Round-trip airfare from Palestine to France estimated at $850.

    2. Hotel accommodations: Request funds to cover hotel accommodations in Paris to attend UNESCO Conference. Conference to last 3 days, expect to arrive the day before conference opening to be present for opening sessions. Figure calculated at 4 nights at $150 per night.
     

    Materials & Supplies

    1. Paper and office supplies: Request funds to cover cost of office supplies, estimated at $450 per year over a two-year period.

    2. Photocopying: Request funds to cover cost of duplicating research materials and final reports.

    3. Postage, fax, and telephone: Request funds to cover communication costs of running the project. Figure estimated at $650 over a two-year period.
     

    ** NOTE: I have not included all items, but rather selected items to show how they can be presented in the itemized budget and budget rational.
     
     
     


    PROPOSAL ATTACHMENTS


    Cover Letter
    A cover letter may not be required. However, attaching a cover letter always provides a nice, professional, and sophisticated touch to your proposal.

    The cover letter is a VERY SHORT, CLEAR, IMPERSONAL note about the contents of what you are submitting to the Funder. Keep it short -- only state the title of your proposal and the attachments you are including. Be clear -- use number to list your attachments if you want. Keep it impersonal -- many Funders like to be "objective" in their selection process. If you include any personal references, "wasta" type information, or gratuitous salutations, it may be seen as "subjective" and biased.
     


    Sample Cover Letter

       June11, 1997






    Mr. Joe Smith, Director
    The So-and-So Foundation
    Street Address
    City, State, Country postal code
    Fax number: (if you are faxing your proposal)

    Dear Mr. Smith:

    Enclosed please find a copy of my proposal entitled, "Improving the Quality of Proposals Submitted by Palestinian Professionals," which I would like to be considered by the So-and-So Foundation.

    The proposal includes the following attachments:

     - So-and-So Foundation application form
     - text of proposal
     - budget
     - curriculum vitae
     - 3 references from reviewers
    I thank the So-and-So Foundation for the opportunity to submit this proposal. If any additional information is required, I can be reached by fax (972-9-387982) or by e-mail (Zaharna@Najah.edu).

    Sincerely,
     

    R. S. Zaharna, Ed.D.
     


    Application Form

    Curriculum Vitae / Resume
    For any professional proposal, you want to include a curriculum vitae or resume. Curriculum Vitae (or "CV") is usually used by academics to highlight their education and publications. Resume is usually used by professionals to highlight their professional experience. Below are guidelines for enhancing your resume or CV.
     

    1.  Highlight your skills, experience, or knowledge which directly relate to the project.
    You want to demonstrate through your resume that you are qualified -- indeed, highly qualified -- to undertake and complete the project you have proposed. To do this, review your proposal carefully to notice what particular skills, knowledge or expertise is needed for the project you have proposed and then make sure to highlight those aspects in your resume or CV.
     

    2. Omit personal information.
    Personal information, such as marital status, number of children or birth date, is not included in professional resumes. If the Funder wants this information, it will be asked on the application form.
     

    3. List most recent items and dates first.
    When listing dates work experience, academic studies, research publications, etc. put the most recent item or date first.
     

    4.  Be selective
    If you include ALL the items, you lose the point of being able to highlight what you want to emphasize. You want to be selective in what you include and have a purpose for why you are including it in your CV.
     

    5.  Check for errors.
    Again, remember that some reviewers make it a personal hobby to find errors in resumes. So double check every wod! -- I mean, every word!
     

    6. Avoid abbreviations.
    Except for academic degrees, all words should be spelled out. Do not make the Funder guess what you mean by UFO.
     

    7. List "research" as publications and use standard style format.
    The term used to refer to "research studies" is "publications." All research should be organized and listed by the type -- journal article, book, book chapter, etc. Also, because publications are a critical feature of an academicís scholarly expertise, they should be cited carefully, using the MLA, APA (American Psychological Association), or other standard style manual used by Western scholars.
     

    8. Use standard curriculum vitae / resume format.
    You want your resume to look neat and organized so that it is easy to see what are your qualifications and expertise. You may want to group items and put them under a heading and make the heading bold. I am attaching a format (next page) that lists the order which you can list your items. In the sample curriculum vitae, I have added additional headings because I wanted to stress to the Funder different aspects of my experience. You can do the same as long as format is clear and orderly.

    Sample Curriculum Vitae Format:
     


    Reference Letters
    Some Funders may ask for Reference Letters or ask you to submit "Reference Forms" which they supply. There are a few points to keep in mind.

    1. Make sure to submit the Reference Letters / Forms on TIME!
    If a Funder asks for References they probably are an important component of the proposal, so you should treat it as such. Many times a Funder will not even review a proposal until all the materials -- including References -- are submitted. Therefore, you want to give the person who is writing on your behalf time to prepare the letter, and you want to find a gentle way to make sure it is submitted on time. If someone is VERY, VERY busy you may not want to take the risk of asking him to write a letter if you are not sure he can complete the letter on time.

    2. Keep the Reference professional.
    The Funder is wants to know about your professional qualifications or the quality of the project. You want to avoid stressing any personal or family relationship with the person preparing your reference.


     
     


    Final note to my readers

    If you are working on a proposal and have questions about your proposal, please feel free to contact me.

    You can contact me by e-mail: Zaharna@American.edu.

    or by fax: (001) 202-885-2099

    or by regular post:

    Dr. Randa Zaharna
    School of Communication
    American University
    4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW
    Washington, DC 20016-8017
     
     


    Appendix A:    Sample Format for Timeline for Project Activities
     
     
     
     

    ___________________________________________________1996
    ___________________________________________________ January ___________________________________________________ February ___________________________________________________ March ___________________________________________________ April ___________________________________________________ May ___________________________________________________ June
    ___________________________________________________ July
    ___________________________________________________ August
    ___________________________________________________ September
    ___________________________________________________ October
    ___________________________________________________ November
    ___________________________________________________ December
    ___________________________________________________1997
    ___________________________________________________ January ___________________________________________________ February ___________________________________________________ March ___________________________________________________ April ___________________________________________________ May ___________________________________________________ June
    ___________________________________________________ July
    ___________________________________________________ August
    ___________________________________________________ September
    ___________________________________________________ October
    ___________________________________________________ November
    ___________________________________________________ December
    ___________________________________________________1998
    ___________________________________________________ January ___________________________________________________ February ___________________________________________________ March ___________________________________________________ April ___________________________________________________ May ___________________________________________________ June