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close this bookWater and Sanitation Technologies: A Trainer's Manual (Peace Corps, 1985)
close this folderSessions
close this folderSession 43 - Proposal writing
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View the documentAttachment 43A: Guidelines for a small-scale non-technical proposal



2 Hours, 30 Minutes


* Evaluate proposal writing as a method of procuring funds for a development project

* Identify and discuss various components of a small-scale proposal

* Practice writing a sample proposal for a development project


Attachment 43-A: "'Guidelines for a Small-Scale Non-Technical Proposal"


Newsprint and felt-tip pens


Copies of Attachment for all trainees

Cost estimates and materials list from a training construction project


One or more trainers

Trainer Introduction

This session serves two purposes. First of all, it gets trainees thinking about funding sources for development projects. Secondly, it provides guidelines for writing a small-scale proposal.

Many trainees feel unsure about their ability to write proposals and this session should emphasize that the process can be made simple by effective, realistic planning of a project.


Step 1

10 minutes

Present the objectives and open the floor for discussion on this question:

- How many people here have written a proposal or planned and implemented a community project?

Trainer Note

Chances are that most trainees will answer this question in the negative. If some trainees have done such things, ask them to briefly explain the proposal or project, and generally give their impressions of the experience. If no trainees have had experience in this area, briefly relate some personal experience. Emphasize that writing a proposal is not the impossible task that many Volunteers believe it to be. Explain that proposal writing must be preceded by good planning. If a project is well thought out, proposal writing is simply a process of organizing and writing down those thoughts.

Step 2

25 minutes

Lead a discussion on the procurement of funding for a community project.

Trainer Note

Begin with the question many Volunteers face, whether or not to bring in outside sources to fund a community project. In simple terms, there are two schools of thought concerning this issue. One saying that in most cases outside moneys are available and if the project is well thought out and will help the community, there is no valid reason not to bring in outside funding, and the other saying that if the community itself cannot support and pay for the project, it is not a viable project for that community.

Emphasize that there is not one correct answer for all situations. Both opinions have validity and carry with them strengths and weaknesses. Volunteers need to study the project and community, consult with their co-workers, weigh the advantages and disadvantages, and then make a decision whether or not to fund a project with money from outside the community.

Point out that although this session deals with proposal writing, which usually is connected with outside funding sources, trainers do not mean to imply that outside funding is appropriate for all Peace Corps projects. That decision needs to be made on a case by case process.

If a decision is made that a proposal will be used to procure funding for a specific project. Encourage the trainees to think about a project proposal from the point of view of a funding agency. Emphasize that a funding agency must have a clear idea of what the project is all about, and what they are being asked to contribute.

Next, mention that Volunteers should check out what funding sources are available before they write the actual proposal. Ask trainees to list some things that they might want to know about a funding source. Here are some possible answers:

* What type of projects do they favor?
* Do they have minimum or maximum amounts of money that can be requested?
* At what times of the year do they release money?
* What kind of turn around time do they have once a proposal is submitted?
* What type of activities in a project will they fund? Materials? Labor? Transportation?
* Do they have a set format for a written proposal to follow?

Step 3

15 minutes

Lead a brainstorming activity to answer these two questions. Record answers on newsprint.

* When is a good time to write a proposal?

* How should a proposal be written?

Trainer Note

Here are some points which should be emphasized:

1. The planning stage of a project should always come first. As for the time table for submitting a proposal, there are no exact rules to follow, but the time for submitting the proposal should be linked to the plan for project implementation. Volunteers should keep in mind the approximate dates the money will be needed, and how long it will take to receive the money after the proposal has been submitted and approved. Much time is often lost waiting for funds.

2. Trainees should be encouraged to think realistically with regard to their projects, which usually means to think small and manageable. Most successful Peace Corps projects are small-scale and community oriented; effective proposals follow the same rules. A simple, clearly written, feasible proposal will be more readily accepted by a funding source, and also lead to a realistic and manageable project. Some general rules to follow when writing are:

- Write with the audience in mind, being familiar with the organization(s) to whom the proposal will be submitted. Remember, it is often wise to submit the proposal to several sources, instead of counting on a single funding source which may fall through.

- Be concise and specific, straight forward and knowledgeable.

- Write in a simple and clear fashion.

- Show enthusiasm and commitment to the project by all those involved.

- Support your statements with adequate documentation.

- Do not lie or say things that cannot be proved.

- Take the time to make it look good visually and sound good grammatically.

Step 4

25 minutes

Handout the Attachment and discuss these guidelines.

Trainer Note

Lead this discussion, making sure to emphasize each component. Encourage questions without straying too far from the subject matter. Mention that not all proposals need to follow this exact format. However, this format can be used as a general guideline. Make note that many funding agencies have their own guidelines to follow and forms to use.

Step 5

50 minutes

In groups of six to eight trainees, practice writing a small-scale proposal for a water/sanitation project. Use a project that has been done during training, such as a ferrocement water tank or latrine.

Trainer Note

For their proposal, trainees should use the materials list drawn up during the construction of the project they have selected. Make sure that list is on hand. Also, supply prices for necessary materials in the project. Encourage trainees to be brief and to the point. By delegating various responsibilities, they should be able to complete the exercise in the time allowed.

Step 6

15 minutes

Bring the groups back together. Review one of the sample proposals.

Trainer Note

Read aloud sections of the proposal and ask the group to critique its content. Lead a discussion on the proposal, looking at it from the point of view of a funding source. Here are some questions to answer:

- What information does it give? What does it lack?
- Is the language simple and understandable?
- Does the project sound realistic and capable of being completed as planned?
- Would you fund this proposal? Why or Why not?

Step 7

10 minutes

Review the objectives and conclude the session by reflecting on the importance of community participation in project planning and proposal writing.

Trainer Note

Ask trainees for ideas concerning how community members might be included in these processes.

REFERENCE: In-Service Training Manual, Peace Corps, ICE.