Project and Project Proposal

Project and Project Proposal

Meaning of a Project A project is a plan with specified objectives to be achieved within a specified time frame and with specified resources. With reference to non government organization a project is means to bring certain desirable changes in the conditions of a group within a specified time period and cost.

Project Formulation
The process of project formulation involves-

  • Project planning keeping in view the project ‘idea’
  • Comparative appraisal for determining priority of the project and allocation of resources within the financial constraints
  • The exercise of project formulation is necessary to ensure that the project is technically sound, economically and socially viable and fits within the overall economic objectives of the donor or sponsoring agency

Following steps should be followed in project formulation process:
Step One-Conceptualization

  • Identifying the Problem
    Conceptualization of a problem is first step for project formulation. Program activities have direct relationship with the conceptualization of problem. Program activities are the conscious efforts to reduce the problem. The problem can be something that is hampering or disturbing the economical, social, psychological, environmental or educational development of the persons or group of people. Different methods can be used to get the real understanding of the problem such as observation, individual contacts, group meetings, focused group interaction, surveys, secondary data, research studies, record available with different groups, organization or departments, etc. are the most common ways of data collection.

  • Finding Solutions of the Problem
    After identifying and understanding the problem, possible solutions of the problem find out through the program activities. The problem may be dealt in two ways- Remedial approach provides an immediate solution and generally of short term in nature. Developmental approach relies on providing a permanent solution to the problem and has generally a long term effect. The solutions can be evolved through team work by involving other like minded people, staff and outside experts in the field.

  • Listing the Activities
    Possible activities to achieve the desired objectives should be enlisted. Program activities should not only reduce the negative factors but also take care of the promotive activities.

  • Building Consensus opinion
    A project is not an aloof activity rather it is a team effort. Therefore, community people, stake holders, volunteers and staff must be included in all the steps of project and all aspects of the problem, possible solutions and plan of action should be thoroughly discussed with them. Various components of the project, their relevance to the people, requirement of resources, implementing strategy, etc. should be discussed in detail.
Step Two-Planning

Planning is fundamentally an intellectual process, a mental predisposition to do things in an orderly way, to think before action, and to act in the light of facts rather than the guesses. Planning is the provision to implement guaranteed minimum of resources, both physical and social according to needs and necessities for better life conditions and adjustment.

The basic principles of planning are:

  • Participation at all level:
    Planning involves discussions with all concerned peoples, departments and individuals. It should not just come from the top. Planning ensures participation of all levels instead of one man at the top deciding everything on his own thinking.
  • Continuity:
    Planning is a continuous process. Regular monitoring, review and introspection are required in the planning so that constraints in the plan are removed if the plan is not achieving the targets. Planning thus has to be done on a continuous basis.
  • Objectivity:
    In order to make a plan effective, its objectives must be stated in advance, in clear and unambiguous terms.
  • Evaluation:
    Effective methods of evaluation should be used to ensure the effectiveness of planning.
Step Three-Objectives

Objectives are statements of what an organizations intends to achieve. The general purpose of not for profit organization is to render service to humanity. For example, to provide education to poor children, to provide vocational training to school dropouts, to provide health education to college students, etc. The objectives should always be stated in positive terms. The objective of a project should be SMART, meaning specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time based.

Step Four- Organizing

Organizing means systematic arrangement and allocation of resources including human, physical and financial resources with a view to achieve the predetermined goals in most effective manner.

Organizing involves-

  • Drawing an activity plan based on the target set;
  • Seeking volunteers for delivering the services;
  • Staffing of paid employees;
  • Arranging necessary supplies by way of donations in kind or by procuring from the market;
  • Arranging finance for the activities.
Once the resources have been acquired, they need to be coordinated and controlled in such a manner that they do not work in conflict to the other and they achieve the desired goals in most cost effective manner.

Step Five-Budgeting

Once the resource necessary in achieving the organizations objectives have been identified, these are then translated into monetary terms. The various sources from which the necessary funds can be tapped are also identified. This process is known as budgeting which involves stating the various sources from which money is to be raised during a particular period and the activities on which the money will be utilized.

The budget is thus, an important document for assessing the financial requirements of a project. A budget should normally be prepared for a period of 12 months, which may a financial year or a calendar year.

The income (sources of funds) and expenditure (application of funds) sides should always be balanced showing deficit or surplus. If there is deficit then the sources from which it shall be met or the measures to reduce the expenditure should be indicated. A budget should be prepared well in advance. It should be realistic and accurate, while also providing for unforeseen or abnormal expenditure.

Step Six-Raising Funds

Donors play an important role in translating a project into reality. Donors have to be influenced to consider a project, convinced about the projects validity and persuaded to extend their cooperation.

Raising funds for a project involves:

  • Identifying the donors:
    Potential donors for a project may be individuals, corporate bodies, industrial houses, other trust/organization, funding agencies, government etc. Donors should be identified with respect to availability of funds with them and their conviction to a particular social cause.
  • Communicating with the Donors:
    The most common means of communicating with the donors are through post, personal visits, giving advertisements/pamphlets in newspaper/magazines etc. The initial communication should be brief but convincing and persuasive. Interested donors may be sent detailed proposal either by post or personally.
  • Preparing for Project Proposal:
    Usually a large funding agency requires information about the project in a specific format known as project proposal. A project proposal should carry sufficient information about the problem and why it is necessary to find solution, feasibility of program, resources required etc.

An outline for preparing a project proposal is given here under:

Specimen Project Proposal Format

    Section A: General Information
  1. Title of the project
  2. Organization- name, address, contact person, legal status, present activities, etc.
  3. Project-problem, size of the problem, project area, existing facilities in the project area.
  4. Budget- Resource requirements and availability of funds
  5. Section B: Organization
  6. Organizational background
  7. Organizational structure
  8. Area covered
  9. Activities in the previous three years
  10. Participants
  11. Beneficiaries
  12. Section C: Proposed project
  13. Target area
  14. Objectives(General and Specific)
  15. Activities/Plan
  16. Implementation strategy at the central, intermediate and grass root level
  17. Staffing
  18. Training and development
  19. Monitoring and evaluation
  20. Project coordination and management
  21. Section D: Budget
  22. Resource requirements (Equipment and furniture, transport, staff, finance)
  23. Source of funds
  24. Sustainability of the project without outside support
    • Internal generation of funds;
    • Making maximum utilization of volunteers and voluntary donation in kind;
    • Sale of project services /products for generating funds
    • Investment of surplus
    Section E: Project Evaluation
  25. Procedure for monitoring the project activities
  26. Indicators
  27. Expected impact of the project on the target beneficiaries, community and society at large
  28. Conclusion

Checklist for preparing a project proposal

  • The proposal should contain all details which may be required by a donor agency.
  • The document should be comprehensive but brief and not bulky.
  • Heavy charts and tables should be avoided or given as appendix.
  • Avoid use of uncommon abbreviations and unexplained short terms.
  • Figures and data given in the document should be accurate.
  • Copy of registration certificate, memorandum, rules and regulations, audited balance sheet and final accounts, latest annual report and list of beneficiaries should be attached to the document.