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The specialist international beekeeping organisation

Proposal writing

If you or your group have plans for future activities, but these plans cannot be achieved without some extra funding, then you will need to approach a donor for funds. Your success in finding funding will depend not just on the value of your idea, but also on the quality of your proposal.

A clear proposal, which displays well thought-out and realistic plans, can be your key to success. There is no standard format of project proposal and some funding organisations will ask you to complete their own forms. Different projects will require slightly different approaches but the format given here provides a good starting point. The outline will not guarantee you success in locating funding. However it will help to ensure that your proposal has as good a chance as any other. Good luck!

Title

The title should provide a clear statement of your aim, but not be too long. Other details;

  • State whom the proposal is intended for, and who is submitting it. Give your name and your address or that of your organisation.
  • State the date of application. It is a good idea to provide separately some additional information about your organisation and its activities.
  • If you are applying for funding as an individual give a brief CV* and the names and addresses of referees - make sure they are aware of your proposal and agree to their name being used.

*CV or Curriculum vitae is Latin meaning 'the course of one's life'. A CV clearly and systematically states your personal details, your education and employment history and other relevant information. All details should be itemised with suitable headings and dates in chronological order.

Abstract or Executive Summary
If your proposal is several pages in length, it is good to summarise it at the beginning - not more than four or five sentences. This is also helpful in order to carefully consider the work that is going to be done.

Introduction
Give the background to your proposal and summarise the current situation. For example, is this a continuation of previous work, or is it intended to address a new problem facing beekeepers?

Objectives
The objectives are the matters that must be achieved to arrive at your aim stated in the title. You are likely to have several objectives, but each one must be stated in a single sentence. Try to be specific. List your objectives one after another - do not present them strung together in a paragraph. If you need to explain more about the objectives and why they are important then list them again, adding a few sentences of explanation for each one.

Methods
Accurately and carefully describe the methods you will use to achieve each objective. You must give details here: a statement such as 'increase number of bee colonies' does not provide enough information.

Work plan
Show a timetable of events for the project activities. Remember that beekeeping is a seasonal activity. Be realistic about how long it will really take to achieve the project objectives.

Inputs required
Summarise here all the resources you will need. For example, number of persons, transport, workshop facilities and the time required.

Budget
For each resource list the costs involved. If your project extends over more than one year, provide an annual total in addition to the total project budget. Your budget can be shown in local currency but provide a current (and dated) exchange rate to a widely known currency, preferably that used by the organisation for whom you are preparing the proposal.

Outputs
This is a concluding paragraph. You can mention likely 'spin-offs' in addition to your main objectives, and any documentation that will arise from the project. If you are successful in obtaining funding then it is important that you prepare reports as required by the donors and acknowledge their support.

More hints
Number the various sections of your proposal.
None of the statements in your proposal should be repeated in different sections.
Make sure that you have clearly separate objectives from methods. For example: 1) Assisting in honey marketing; 2) Providing containers for selling honey; 3) Increasing consumer awareness of honey; 4) Teaching honey filtration

 (1) and (3) are objectives while (2) and (4) are methods by which the objectives could be attained.

Unless it is quite impossible, present a typed proposal.

Check the final document very carefully for spelling or other typographical errors.
Be ready to prepare several drafts of your proposal until you arrive at a version with no errors.
Use A4 paper and print on one side of the paper only.
If you are preparing a proposal for an organisation where many employees use a language different from your own, try to present a translation of your proposal, or at least a translation of the summary.
If you are preparing a proposal in a language that is difficult for you, try to have it checked by someone who knows the language well.
In any project proposal it is good to state what inputs you, your organisation or another donor are also providing towards the project. These need not be financial inputs; they could be in terms of labour, access to facilities or the provision of suitable apiary sites.

And lastly . . . . Try to keep your proposal as concise as possible. The shorter it is the more chance it has of being read!

Explaining beekeeping
No grant-providing organisation can be familiar with every activity for which they provide funding and beekeeping is a subject which is often not well understood or appreciated. You will need to emphasise the importance and value of beekeeping. However do not just copy information from a standard text: try to give local facts for example:

  • What sector of your community practises beekeeping?
  • What are the local products of beekeeping?
  • Which local crops or habitats require honeybee pollination?
  • How will your project benefit your community?

Too often beekeeping project proposals list all the benefits of beekeeping, some of which may not be appropriate. For example, do not suggest royal jelly production if your beekeeping methods and markets are not appropriate for this product.

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