Designing Your Proposal

When developing your proposal, identify the problem, and specify your aims, objectives, activities, outputs and outcomes. 

Your proposal should reflect:

  • The funder's priorities/requirements/objectives
  • Your community's needs
  • Your organisation's role, goals and strategic directions.

Funding bodies want you to clearly describe:

  • The identified need
  • What you are offering them
  • What your proposal will achieve.

Your proposal should inform the funder about:

  1. The underlying problem or need (see Identifying Needs)
  2. Your proposed aim/s and objectives
  3. Your planned activities and timelines
  4. The products and services you will generate (i.e., outputs)
  5. The outcomes and benefits anticipated (see Setting Objectives and Measuring Outcomes)
  6. The resources required to conduct the activities and produce the services
  7. Total cost involved in delivering the activities and the amount you are asking for (see Your Budget).

The Result Chain highlights a number of the key elements that need to be considered when designing your proposal.

For more guidance about your proposal's aims, objecitves and activities, please refer to the section below: Developing Your Proposal's Aims, Objectives, and Activities and Setting Objectives and Measuring Outcomes.

Questions you may want to address when developing your proposal are outlined in the table below.

Proposal Development Questions

Proposal Area Questions
  • WHAT is the identified need?
  • WHO is the targeted population?
  • WHY does the problem need to be addressed?
  • WHAT does the funder want?
  • WHAT do you propose to do?
  • HOW will your proposal meet the identified need and the funder's aims?
  • WHAT activities will you be doing?
  • WHO will be doing them?
  • HOW will the activities be delivered?
  • WHAT is the timeframe for the activities?
  • WHAT will the activities achieve?
  • HOW will your achievements be measured  (see Setting Objectives and Measuring Outcomes)?
  • WHAT resources and materials are needed?
  • WHY are the resources and materials needed?
  • HOW long do you need the resources and materials for?
  • HOW much do they cost?
  • HOW much of the total cost will be met by your organisation?
  • HOW much of the total cost will be requested from the funding body?

See Your Budget

Organisational Track Record and Proposal Team
  • WHY should the funding body fund your organisation?
  • WHAT experience does your organisation have in producing outcomes and benefits?
  • WHAT skills and qualifications does the proposed team possess?

The Identified Need

Tell the funder about the underlying problem or need you have identified:

  • Demonstrate the need exists
  • Underscore the urgency of addressing the need
  • Establish your expertise and knowledge (see Identifying Needs). 

Provide information about:

  • The targeted consumer group
  • Why they need your proposed program/service
  • How often they will use your service.

Prioritise needs by assessing the:

  • Number of people who experience the problem and/or are detrimentally impacted
  • Harms caused to the social, environmental, physical, and/or mental wellbeing of the individual and community
  • Availability, suitability, and effectiveness of other services and/or programs.

If you are seeking:

  • Continued funding, tell the funding body:
    • How your current activities are measured and provide up-to-date statistics about the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of these activities
    • How the service will respond to emerging needs and/or periods of high demand
  • Funds to start a new service or program of work, consider which sources of evidence may be useful to include in your proposal (see the list below).

Evidence Which Demonstrates Need, Significance, and/or Community Support

The following sources of information may assist you to demonstrate community need:

  • Letters of support that highlight the difference your proposal will make
  • Needs assessment findings which detail and prioritise problems, map complementary services, and identify gaps
  • Quality assurance surveys which demonstrate the relevance and effectiveness of your proposed activities
  • Case studies which illustrate: 
    • The benefical outcomes and impacts of your activities
    • What is likely to occur if the activities are not provided
  • Information obtained from local, sub-regional or regional plans.

Developing Your Proposal's Aims, Objectives, and Activities

Develop a clear, achievable and measurable approach to address the identified need and funder’s priortities and requirements:

  • Define your proposal’s aims
  • Set your objectives - use action-orientated words (e.g., decrease, deliver, develop, establish, improve, increase, produce, and provide)
  • Outline the activities you will undertake to achieve your objectives
  • Detail who will be involved in executing the proposal
  • Develop measures to assess:
    • What you are doing
    • How well you are doing it
    • Is anyone better off?

Description of Aims, Objectives, and Activities

Aims are broad, general, and intangible statements which:

  • Provide a succinct description of what your proposal hopes to achieve
  • Are directly linked with the identified need.

Objectives are:


  • Are the specific actions and tasks required to achieve your objectives
  • Have defined start and end dates.


Your Proposed Activities

In developing the specific activities and tasks required to achieve your objectives, consider:

  • The approach you will adopt
  • What actions and tasks are required
  • Why you selected your approach, activities and tasks
  • Who will undertake the activities and tasks:
    • The skills, knowledge, and experience required
    • How much time will they contribute
    • Whether any new staff will need to be recruited
  • When the activities will start and finish
  • How your proposal will be administered (including lines of authority, supervision, reporting and communication). This is especially important for a large proposal or if more than one agency is involved.

​Many proposals forget to quantify the amount of time and resources contributed by volunteers. Describing tasks that volunteers can undertake underscores the value added by the volunteers as well as the cost-effectiveness of the project.

Warning: Do not over commit staff to achieving the proposed activities. Funders may ask about other funding commitments and how you will free up the time of an already fully deployed individual. Be prepared to discuss with funders about how staff will allocate their time.

TIPS: Designing Your Proposal

  • Aims are broad statements that describe what programs or activities should achieve. They reflect the purpose and priorities of your program.
  • Ensure aims are easily understandable.
  • Aims must start with an action verb.
  • Well-articulated objectives are critical to a proposal's success as they define the methods adopted by the funding recipient. 
  • Case studies can capture the imagination of funding panels. They humanise the organisational story and can present a compelling picture.
  • Select facts or statistics which best support your proposal.
  • Use data which is current, accurate, and targeted. Do not use statistics which are out of date, incorrect, or generic or too broad.
  • It may be helpful to include a Gantt chart or some other scheduling tool so the assessor can clearly see the start and end time for each activity.
  • Establish an organisational chart which clearly defines the lines of authority and supervision, and the staff relationships with consumers.
  • It needs to be clear who is responsible for financial management, project outcomes, and reporting. Develop a tracking sheet to monitor staff allocations.
  • A skills matrix may be useful to describe the skills required to deliver the proposed activities. Identify staff already employed and those to be recruited specifically for the project.

References & Resources


Complete the activities below by en​tering text into the fields provided and/or completing the attached documents. If you download and complete an attached document, you will have to save this to your personal file.

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Activity 6.2.1 Create a Mindmap

Before writing your proposal:
1. Brainstorm ways to meet the funder’s objectives
2. List the broad program areas/services that you intend to provide and their objectives
3. Identify the activity/ies for each area and objective
4. Map the order and timing for the activities and objectives
5. Explain why you chose the activity to achieve your objective
6. Describe the evidence base for your chosen delivery model, methods, activities, and outcomes
7. Indicate how the planned work will effectively lead to the anticipated outcomes.

Mindmap your thoughts.
Answer the questions on the attached document.

6.2.1.pdf (142 KB)

Activity 6.2.2 Summarise Your Mindmap

Take a moment to focus on the need/problem that your organisation seeks to address.

6.2.2.pdf (111 KB)

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