Project Design Principles


Our Project Design Principles

The best projects follow some basic project design principles. Here are a few:

blue skies

  • Development is mainly driven by change. Very few organisations fund status quo.
  • Root the project idea in a need that groups of people have already said they want to see happen
  • Understand the number of people who will be affected by change, and specify how that number breaks down into men and women, and other relevant groups

ono tree

  • Be reasonable about the number of people that will directly benefit¬†
  • Link that local idea to a bigger commitment made by regional, national or international government bodies
  • Understand that it is not what your organisation does, its what your organisation will achieve that will interest a donor in your activity
  • Therefore don't plan your project activities before you can show how resolving the problem on the ground can contribute to a higher goal
  • Remember you are feeding into a higher goal, not solving it all by yourself
  • Cover the project costs, but don't cover the other costs of running your organisation
  • Where possible introduce yourselves and the project to grant givers 12-6 months in advance of any general call for proposals

whats the story

  • Begin the proposal writing process by completing a project logical framework, or results-based chart, or expected outcomes table
  • Be rigorous at this stage, if the project logic dictates developing a new activity for your organisation, or dropping the inclusion of a staff member - then follow this path
  • Once you have a robust framework you can start developing the narrative and budget
  • The proposal narrative and the budget should reflect the logframe 100% and should add no additional information
  • This is a good time to get the proposal writer to develop a responsibility matrix, that tells all staff members, senior managers and external partners who is contributing to the proposal development and at what level of engagement. It will also be a shared document that confirms deadlines and can work as a tool to set priorities within teams.
  • Think about the person scoring your application. They read several applications like yours each day - so lay out the proposal text clearly, concisely and briefly.
  • Size counts. If your organisation is small, talk about what networks you tap into that gives you and your sponsor greater reach