Recently I spent two very productive hours helping a team draft a fundraising proposal. You may be wondering  “What made your time so “productive?”  Answer:  One of my colleagues introduced us to:

“Proposal Writing  Process – Questions to Ask”  shared here with the permission of the co-authors – Larry O’nan and Dan Willmanm

It quickly became apparent that this Proposal Writing Process is another great example of  “Leading with Questions!”

(Author’s Note: This is written from the standpoint of addressing a problem or need with a specific plan. It can also be used to seize a specific opportunity, just reword the questions appropriately)

“Proposal Writing  Process – Questions to Ask”    

1. The Need:

A. What is the problem you are trying to solve?

1. Why is this a problem?

2. Why is this so bad?

B. What happens if the problem is not addressed?

1. Are there any stories or statistics that illustrate the need or problem?

2. Is there any way to measure the scope or depth of the need or problem?

2. The Solution:

A. What solution are you proposing to the problem?

1. How will your solution address the problem?

2. What are your specific objectives as you address the need?

3. What would it look like if your solution were fully implemented?

4. Are there any examples of a similar solution to a similar problem being implemented? How would you measure that outcome? Stories? Statistics?

B. Why do you believe you are best suited to address the need with your solution?

1. Do you have any stories or statistics to show you are the best? What is your history of success in this area?

3. The Plan:

A. Specifically, What will you do? What is your plan?

1. What are the critical path steps to see to your solution accomplished?

2. What are the key milestones to show you are making progress on your critical path steps?

B. Leadership, people and partners:

1. Who will lead this plan? Why are they best suited to lead in this way?

2. Who else will be involved?

3. Are there any partner ministries or churches involved? What will be their part in the plan?

C. Schedule

1. Specifically, when will you do each element of the plan?

2. Are there multiple phases or stages to the plan?

3. When will the key milestones of the plan be completed?

4. When will the overall plan be completed?

D. Budget

1. What will each step or phase element cost?

2. What is the total cost of accomplishing the plan?

3. What resources are currently available to accomplish the plan?

4. What additional resources are needed to accomplish the plan?

5. How will those resources be secured?

E. Evaluation

1. How will you measure the success of each key milestone?

2. Specifically, what outcomes will indicate successful completion of the plan?

3. How will you measure those outcomes?

4. Assumptions:

A. What are the assumptions upon which this plan depends?

B. Have those assumptions been tested? How?

C. What level of confidence do we have in our assumptions?

Larry O’Nan & Dan Willmann

Larry is Vice President Stewardship Strategies at Management Development Associates – Consultant to non-profits in fund development strategies and best practices.

Dan is V.P. of Global Fund Development for Cru.

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2 thoughts on “Do You Need Help Drafting a Fundraising Proposal?

  1. Philip DelRe says:

    By adopting these questions, I was able to write the most compelling grant proposal I have ever written in 30 minutes! It helps that we have the right product at the right time for the right price, but these questions enabled our opportunity to shine brightly! This article is practically invaluable. Thank you!

    1. Bob Tiede says:

      Philip that is remarkable! And very encouraging! Thank you!

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