Network of African Youths for Development - 'Together is better'
Actiontoolkit - Preparation - Writing a proposal

Now you have thought how to turn you idea into a practical project it is time to write it all down in a proposal. Every project needs a written proposal -it is the only way you are going to gather the people and the resources you need to do a project. A project proposal is a living document -something that can be translated into real money, real resources and real improvements. Every funding agency has a different funding procedure, often with enormously long and complicated forms, but they all ask broadly the same questions. The Be the Change! YLD programme uses a 10-point application which you can use to give you an idea of what to expect. As you will see from the sample on page 22, it can be filled out simply and it provides funders with all the information a funder needs to know about a project. The points are:
1 Title of Project: make it catchy -ten words or less!
2 The Context: a description of your community/region and the major issues you face;Africa scene
3 The Need: the specific need you have chose to address and why it is important;
4 The Project: describe the actions you are going to take to tackle the need (described above) and devise a schedule of when you are going to do each action;
5 The Budget: how much each action will cost. Estimate as precisely as possible;
6 You and Your Team: who are you? what are your qualifications for doing these actions and why do you think you will succeed? What have you done before that is similar?
7 The Mentor: identify an older person with skills and experience in your project area who is prepared to support and guide you;
8 The Evaluator(s): aim for one older and one younger person, not involved with the project, who can give an objective evaluation on its success.
9 Handling the Money: who is going to handle the money? give bank details.
10 Sustainability: how are you going to make sure that the impact of your actions lasts? What plans do you have for follow-up and continuing funding?
Remember to include your contact details: your name, address, phone and, most importantly, your e-mail address.

If you have followed our advice and planned well you should be able to answer 1-4 pretty easily. Follow these pointers to help with the rest...

Drawing up a budget: the budget should include absolutely everything you might need, with each cost carefully researched and verified. People often fail to break down their budget: don’t just give a general overview but make sure you think of every detail! Think materials, transport, food & drink during working days, rent and administration costs, to name but a few. If you need a skilled tradesperson or materials put the costs in the budget even if later you can persuade them to donate their time or resources.

The Schedule: what is going to be done and by when? A common problem in YLD is that projects never seem to get finished. Good project managers nip that problem in the bud by setting a firm, realistic schedule early on with tasks and monthly targets. You will see later on how the budget becomes the mechanism by which you do the financial reporting - showing what you thought you would spend on each item and comparing it with what you actually spent. Have a column for little notes to explain the variations. You do exactly the same with the schedule when you come to write your report: show the schedule you planned to follow and place alongside it the schedule you were actually able to follow, explaining any variations with little notes; (‘The materials were delivered
late...’ etc.)

The Team: who do you actually need to do this project? List all the names of the people in your team, their assets and skills and assign roles to them -including a role for yourself. In good people management, the team will be present as you discuss and determine everyone’s roles so that they are a part of the decision-making process. Again this gives them a feeling of ownership of the project which is essential to motivation, especially when there is no salary motive for doing the work. It is also educational for every one to be present during these discussions as all can learn from each other, and the benefits of doing the project will be spread as widely as possible. Check out page below for good team work and people management tips.

Identifying a Good Mentor: Many funders will insist upon projects securing an adult mentor. A good mentor almost always is the reason that some YLD projects are more successful than others. The individual should be dictated by the nature of the project. If you are setting Africa scene up an IT training centre, you may want to approach a local IT professional and so on. However, always try to find a multi-talented individual who really wants to help you succeed and is not trying to re-live his or her life through you! Even worse are mentors who use youth to push their own agenda. A bad mentor can be worse than having no mentor at all. We have known some dishonest ones who run off with the money! So be very cautious. Think through your friends, family and business contacts. It is good to have someone who you trust. But before you get Mum to do it just because she will, make sure she has the skills to provide and support you need.

Identify Good Evaluator(s): Remember, whether your project is a huge success or a howling failure, you will unquestionably learn from the experience. And, to make sure you learn all the lessons you can learn from this project, it is incredibly important to have an impartial, objective evaluator. It is preferable to have TWO evaluators: an older person who will represent the interests of the older members of the community; and a younger person, close to your age who will tell you honestly if your project has improved the lives and opportunities for young people in the community. Do NOT get friends to be your evaluator just because you think they will
give you a favorable report. That doesn’t do anyone any good least of all you who will miss out on the opportunity to learn important lessons from the project. The independent evaluators’ report are the major things that funders look at to see if their money has been wisely spent. Often, a good choice for the adult evaluator is a teacher or a journalist: if you get a journalist interested, he or she may write about your project in the local paper. Finding a local independent youth evaluator shouldn’t be hard: think about approaching community groups such as religious congregations, guide or scout associations.

Handling money: This is very important! Sponsors know there is corruption in some countries and are very worried about their money going astray. With good reason! All of us have heard stories of young project managers receiving money for a project then spending it on something totally unrelated. It is therefore necessary to impress upon potential funders how you are going to protect the money they give you and ensure that it is spent on the budget and nothing else. This usually involves getting a local school, NGO or church to allow their bank account to be used for money transfers. Take the financial part of your project very seriously. By doing this bit right, you will learn an invaluable skill. Do it in a sloppy way and you may well make it difficult for anyone to trust or employ you in the future!

Sustainability: This is often the hardest question to answer! How will your project survive after the money given to you is all used up? If it is an income-generating project, chances are you will be selling goods so you will be able to demonstrate that a funder’s investment will have a long-term impact. However, it is also perfectly possible to argue that a one-off event like an HIV-AIDS awareness performance or an environmental clean-up will make a life-changing impact on all who take part and therefore is worth doing. Basically, you just have to make the case that the impact of your project is going to last. It is not enough to say, as many do, that “We trust in God to provide...” You might, but it is unwise to assume that funders will feel the same! Also, it is not good to simply say, “We plan to carry on fundraising AHURTODand hope to get more money…” This indicates that you are going to be dependent on soft-money gifts forever. That doesn’t impress any funders. So think about how you will sustain your project and develop a careful argument.

Allow your community to feel ownership of your project.In your research, define exactly what they need and then involve them in it.If you build a school, for example,let the children paint it. Involve a local government or NGO to ensure other structures are interested in your project’s continuation. Delegate power.If you give people responsibility and ownership,they will nurture the project and care about its continuation. Train and educate the next generation of young people.This will help them continue your good work into the future.

Troubleshooting for project proposals. We asked a young person who sits on a youth funding board to tell us the
most common mistakes made by youth applicants. Read carefully and learn from them.

REFERENCES: References are essential to an application form and referees need to be chosen carefully. As a rule, referees cannot be a family member or an individual already involved in the project/with a vested interest in the project’s success. A referee should be a respected person with a level of interest regarding the project and issues it tackles.

PRESENTATION: Your form is likely to be photocopied and read by many people. If possible type it. If not, make sure your handwriting is legible.

COMPLETE THE FORM: An obvious but very common mistake! Every question is there for a reason so answer all of them! Any unanswered questions allow the funder to turn down your project immediately.

CONTENT: State the obvious! Remember the funding board probably knows nothing about you, your project or your community’s needs. You must make sure your writing is clear and detailed, explaining exactly what you hope to achieve and why it is necessary.

CRITERIA: Know the aims of your funding board and make sure you are applying to the right people! A board whose remit is to empower young women is not about to fund a project involving only men!

INNOVATION: Funders have to read through hundreds of applications. You need to show them why your project is the best and
why they should fund yours above others. Be innovative!

SUCCESS STORIES AND IMAGES: An example of a similar project working in the past will add gravitas to your application. A picture also speaks a thousand words! Good images that illustrate a need is very valuable and will help get funders on your side.

RISK AWARENESS: Do you need a criminal record check? Do you need to request legal permission for any land you use? If working with children do you need the permission from parents or schools? Is insurance necessary for your project? All risks and permissions Africa scene need to be considered before the application stage and included on the form. In most cases, the issue will need to be resolved before applying for funding.

Successful project proposals! Below is a sample proposal that successfully secured funding at the World Youth Congress 2005. From this proposal the project manager, 24-year-old Maeve Wadge, now has the resources to make a real change in the lives of her local community in Bangalore. A well thought proposal will help you achieve the same.

Project Title: Screen Printing and Paper Production Cooperative
The Context: There are huge communities of migrant workers in Bangalore, living in temporary, tent-like accommodation. In the more developed parts, these have built up into slums and more permanent housing, but conditions are still very poor. Most of the inhabitants of these areas are migrant workers from neighbouring Tamil Nadu, the majority of whom do not speak the local language, Kannada. The only opportunity to work is on the building sites – hard, physical labour which is extremely poorly paid, or other menial jobs which leave people open to exploitation. It is often only the man in the family who takes up this work, which means women are left to bring up the children on a very tight budget. They are completely dependent on their husbands, and as the work can be quite unpredictable, are often left with nothing.
The Need: The project aims to address the issue of exploitation and social and financial insecurity in these communities of migrant workers. We wish to establish a cooperative of young people, particularly women, and train them in screen painting and the manufacture of products from recycled and hand made paper. We will market products, such as business cards and paper bags, to local shops. We will also prepare products, such as greeting cards, gift bags and books, for the export market.

Your Team:
Project Manager: Maeve Wadge: 24, member of local NGO Arivu/Peace Child India. Recruitment of members for cooperative marketing of products internationally and locally for training, coordination and overseeing work.
Raju: 18, Team leader. Training new members, coordinating work load and marketing of products locally.
Laksmi: 24, Screen printer and paper product manufacturer.
Shivagarmi: 25, screen printer and paper product manufacturer.
This team consists of members of the pilot cooperative, who have received initial training and have been working as a unit for the past four months. They have proved to be hard working, resourceful and skilled. After the cooperative has become sustainable and we are receiving enough orders and demand for the products, we will expand the members of the cooperative to include at least five to ten people. However, we want to start small to ensure that the product becomes sustainable and the funds are not wasted. Africa scene

The Mentor:
Prabhu MC: member of local NGO Arivu. Prabhu is trained in screen painting and the manufacture of local products, such as gift bags and books. He has a number of local contacts who can provide support and business for the cooperative. Having grown up in very poor conditions, he has many self-taught skills that make him able to understand the social background of the co-operative members and communicate with them in their own languages. e-mail:

The Evaluator(s):
Bernadette Raj: 52, Bernadette is the president of a small NGO. She has been involved in development work for the past 20 years. e-mail:
Venkatesh: 30. Venkatesh has worked for the association for the promotion of social action for the last five years. He has experi ence running their screen painting unit – training Dalit youth in printing and running the unit as a commercial enterprise. e-mail:

Handling Money:
The cooperative will be overseen by Arivu, an Indian registered local NGO who work with young people from marginalized communities. The accounts and financial report will be conducted by it. Members of Arivu will be involved in the setting up of the cooperative and then in the training, marketing and monitoring the progress of the cooperative.
Bank Account Name: Arivu Address: 123 Peace Avenue, Chamarajpet, Bangalore, 1234567 Email: Contact: Jagan Devaraj A/c Number: 123456789 Bank Sort Code and other details: 1234567890

After the initial set-up period, the project will become sustainable by receiving orders from local businesses and selling products overseas. The sales of products will cover all material costs and staff wages as well as replacing wear and tear of tools and materials for screen painting.

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