The quality of a proposal depends on a number of aspects, which can be visualized by the following triangle:
When we test a proposal, we, proposal designers and assessors, using the Logical Framework Analysis and concentrate on second and the third level, the ‘Concrete and Conciseness‘ and the ‘Coherence‘ and the ‘Consistency‘, or in other words the basis or justification and the internal logic of the intervention, which are verified by three quality criteria:
Understanding these criteria are key for the success of your proposal. Key, because these criteria are being applied by funding agencies and key because these are indicators for the success of the project for end-users. That is why funding agencies assess those criteria …. They want their funds to be used efficiently and effectively, assuring RELEVANCE, FEASIBILITY and working towards SUSTAINABILITY, which should be accounted for in a transparent way.
These quality criteria are included into the standard format used by funding agencies. When preparing a proposal it should adhere to the format used by the respective donor. A general outline of a standard format is presented below.
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Quality judgement of project design
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When you would like to verify your Proposal you could consult the following format which covers most chapters and sub-chapters that should or could show up somehow in a Proposal.
Describe the process that was followed to prepare the project proposal.
general summary of the project proposal (max 1 page)
(2 – 3 pages)
What is the government orientation towards this sector, scale of interest, policies formulated and activities implemented, supporting measures taken?
The actual description of this sector, historical context, it’s size, importance and characteristics? Describe the experiences so far with previous phases or projects.
Description of the beneficiaries/’end-users’. What sub-categories can be identified and how different responses or demands do they have from the sector? What are their typical characteristics, categories, age, sex, geographical site, potentials, weaknesses, fears, and expectations?
Whom are the ‘involved parties’ contributing to this sector? (governmental, NGO’s, associations, Private enterprises, societies, local, foreign, etc.) Through which role they are connected to this sector? What are their potentials, weaknesses, ‘fears’, and expectations? What are their previous experience, activities and achievements?
What are the main problems facing the beneficiaries / ‘end-users’? What are the causes of these problems, and the effects? What makes these problems to continue, prevailed? Which major problems and difficulties are affecting the adequate functioning of the ‘involved parties’? How do these relate to each other? Annex a cause-effect relationship (problem analysis) to this proposal.
Which other interventions are currently carried out or/ are carried / or are being planned by related institutions in this sector? Which donors are or have been involved and how do these relate to each other? Is donor co-ordination taking place in the sector? Which institution carries the lead?
Provide reference to other documentation that is related to this sector, like surveys, statistics, evaluations, articles or studies? Provide a total list of relevant documentation in the annexes.
(2 – 3 pages)
Describe the overall objectives that will explain why this proposal will be important for the society/ at national level? What are the expected benefits to the society?
Describe in terms of one objective why this project is important for the beneficiaries? It should describe what positive change the beneficiaries will initiate as a result of the project? And how can we measure this change? What are the quantitative and qualitative criteria’s that evaluate the level of benefits gained by the beneficiaries? Indicators of achievements (quantity, quality, time, place).
What ‘services’ will the project make available to the beneficiaries / ‘end-users’ to enable them together with the assumptions to achieve the project purpose? And what are the Indicators of achievements: what concrete (behavioural) changes will be observed (i.t.o. quantity, quality, time, and place), that confirm that the beneficiaries / ‘end-users’ positively benefitted from the services? What has changed in their environment due to the results having been received?
Please list the Results and describe the strategy (justification) why these Results have been selected and not others.
What are the main activities to be carried out to achieve each result? Please list each of the Results and the supporting Activities. Describe the ‘tactics’ explaining why these activities and not others. Make reference to other experiences to provide evidence for the choices.
4. Important assumptions:
What are the external conditions that are necessary to be present or are to be made available to achieve the results and the project purpose, but which are not under the direct control of the project. Explain why these are important and cannot be affected by the project.
Formulate indicators for each or the assumptions and suggest how and who should monitor these assumptions.
What are the expected risks and obstacles? And what are the strategies for facing them?
(2 – 3 pages)
Which institutions will be involved in the project and what arrangements are going to be carried out to facilitate project implementation? How will administrative and technical staffs be positioned and managed? Do they work full time for the project? Are they nominated from other institutions and on which basis?
Describe the actions that are aiming at the strengthening of the internal organisation(s) – implementing agencies, which are required to enable the organisation(s) to carry out its duties and tasks as described in the intervention above.
What is the time schedule and the periodic achievements for this project? Please indicate specific phases in the project implementation. Make explicit the required long-term commitment if different from the above project duration.
List the physical inputs or means that are required to carry out the activities specified by technical assistance (expertise), equipment (e.g. vehicles, furniture, computer hard/software, etc.) and funding specified by local contribution and donor support requested.
Present an overview of the estimated cost of the project, specified by each phase. Differentiate between local contribution and donor support.
Annex the detailed budget showing all the activities with the responsible institution and their respective costs (local contribution and donor contribution).
Present the financing plan, if relevant.
What are other requirements or measures (pre-conditions) that need to be taken into account before the project activities can start?
Describe the project management structure, its institutional positioning, the staffing and managerial and monitoring mandate. Present a separate budget for the project management.
(1 – 2 pages)
Please confirm whether the policies at political and institutional level are supportive to the philosophy of this project. What are the actual procedures, which ensure a future support, what are the needed requirements at political, institutional level, are they available, achievable?
Are the technological options that are being proposed in this proposal ‘sustainable’: i.e. can these be maintained by the local (technical and social / gender) environment after completion of this project (i.e. operation experiences, maintenance, local conditions, climate?)
In how far is this project design considering the environmental influence? Are any positive or negative effects expected and how will the project deal with these? How does the project manage its ‘waste’ that is expected to be produced (waste disposal)?
Is the project expected to affect local habits and traditions and how is the project expected to cope with these? Is any resistance to the project expected from a specific group in society? Are negative effects expected to specific groups in society? How are minority groups represented in the project management and monitoring?
Please confirm and make evident if relevant that the project has placed sufficient orientation towards equal distribution of benefits among men and women, boys and girls. Are they intended to participate and contribute the project? Are difficulties expected with regard to the control of the resources and benefits?
Please make evident that the project has placed sufficient emphasis on the strengthening of the involved institutions within the public and the private sector.
How will handing-over of project related responsibilities be managed? Present a separate time frame on handing-over if required.
Describe how the project fits in the economic context and predict its influences on it or visa versa. Has the project accounted for cost (re-) covering mechanisms and will these be sufficient in the long run. Has the project the intention to become financially sustainable?
Monitoring of the achievement of the project results and the monitoring of the implementation of key activities must be described in the proposal. Present a monitoring system (in brief) incorporating the key indicators, the responsibilities for actual monitoring and initiating corrective actions, the periodicity of reporting and recipients of the reports and the estimated costs for monitoring has to be included in the project management budget.
Present a schedule and procedure to initiate a mid-term (joint) review. Describe the procedure to design the Terms of Reference and how to select the evaluation experts. Have a budget item on mid-term evaluation incorporated in the budget.
Possible annexes to the proposal:
Logical Framework matrix
Supportive problem tree and objective tree
Elaborate analysis and synthesis of the situation
Detailed budget/ cash flow,
Organisational structures / diagrams and responsibilities,
Job descriptions of Technical Assistance
Evaluation findings and recommendations
Maps, pictures, articles, surveys, …