7.2 Tips for proposal writing

The following tips can help with managing the challenges of writing proposals in an emergency environment while conforming to principles for good design and presentation.

Address the challenges of writing proposals in an emergency:

  • Time frames are short -Many proposals need to be written very quickly. The Proposal Writer needs to spend the early phase of emergency writing a lot and fast.
  • Information and hard facts are scarce -Proposal Writers need to do the best they can with the available information. Don’t be paralysed by scarcity of information. However, do not make false claims about what CARE will do if we are not sure we can deliver.
  • The situation is changing and unpredictable-The proposal needs to build in scope for flexibility.
  • It is difficult to strike a balance between providing a robust design for project implementers while ensuring that all specific activities are achievable in an uncertain operating environment -this is a skill learned by experienced Proposal Writers.

Make sure proposals meet good principles:

  • All projects, including emergency projects, should comply with CARE’s Programme Principles and Standards. Use Annex 8.11 Programme Standards Emergency Checklist, to do a quick check of the design quality, including ensuring cross-cutting issues are addressed adequately.
  • Base the design on a thorough assessment of the humanitarian situation.
  • Ensure the design is realistic and achievable within the requested budget and time frame.
  • Ensure the design is a logical response to address a significant problem.
  • Make sure the proposal is aligned with CARE’s overall programme strategy and CARE’s comparative advantage.
  • Consider the risks facing the project and articulate strategies to manage them.
  • Coordinate with other agencies to avoid proposing the same interventions with the same affected population.

Make sure the proposal is convincing and well presented:

  • Make sure the proposal reflects CARE’s assessment process and understanding of the humanitarian situation, and shows that it has been coordinated with other key stakeholders.
  • Clearly demonstrate CARE’s capacity, both locally and globally.
  • Always ensure that the correct donor format for the emergency response is being used.
  • Ensure that the writing style is clear, simple and well edited.
  • Ensure that the proposal is logical and makes sense. Double-check to make sure that the instructions provided in the format have been followed exactly.
  • If gaps in information exist, demonstrate how these gaps are being addressed-do not simply leave them unaddressed.
  • Make sure the narrative proposal and the budget are consistent.
  • If using a translator, ensure the quality is checked.

Check any other donor requirements very clearly with the CARE International Member or donor representative, including eligibility of activities and costs.