Tips of research proposal writing

How do I write a proposal as an individual or for an independent project? Where are examples or models obtained?

There are few resources for those seeking to apply for an independent project (that is, proposed by a private individual not linked to an organization) to philanthropic donors.

As the foundations that have subsidy programs for individuals also have highly specific criteria, this makes it difficult to create a guide that covers these diverse demands for all those who seek funds as individuals.

In all this, remember a general rule: If you do not meet the requirements of the donor entity or contribution program, do not send an application. Look only for foundations that have an express interest in your subject or topic and in your geographic region.

This will increase the odds that your proposal gets a serious interest. The electronic directory published by the Foundation Center, Foundation Grants to Individuals Online, includes US foundations that offer grants to individuals and for independent projects.

Parts of a grant proposal


Ultimately, your proposal has to convince and you have to make donor entities believe in your project and your ability to achieve the proposed objectives. In your application, try to make it clear that you consider yourself a member of the foundation and that you can promote your philanthropic mission through your project.

In general, the proposals presented by individuals and for independent projects do not exceed five pages (one space), in addition to the cover letter and the budget. Here is a typical sketch of an independent project:

Cover letter: A letter addressed specifically to the person in charge of receiving correspondence from each donor entity. Present the project and the applicant. 1 page

Summary (also known as executive summary): Describe the entire project concisely. 250 words or less.

Introduction: It serves as a presentation to the project and helps to establish the credibility of the applicant before the donor entity. 1 sentence up to 2 paragraphs.

Approach of the need to which the project responds: Presents the problem that must be faced and answers the question – why do we need to invest funds in this project? 1 page

Objectives: It presents the concrete achievements that it hopes to reach in response to the need. 1 page

Methods: Describe what you will do in a specific way to achieve the objectives within a certain time. 1 page

Evaluation: Explain how you will measure the results and the effectiveness of your project, based on the measurement of each objective. 1 page

Future financing: Describes viable plans in which your project could attract future sources of income. This step is primarily for renewable projects. 1 paragraph.

Budget: Presents a list of calculations of project income and expenses, showing precisely how much money you will need and how you will spend it to achieve your objectives. 1 page

To learn more about the writing of proposals in general, we have the tutorial, Introduction to the writing of the proposal.

Also, please use our resources in the area called Project Proposals. Although these articles were created for projects of non-profit organizations, they offer individuals and independent projects good suggestions and content that can be adapted to their needs.

Proposal models


It is quite difficult to get examples of proposals for independent projects, since most of the applicants do not usually share their ideas and documents. In addition, each proposal tends to follow the very specific guidelines of the donor foundations and the project itself.

The proposals that come from non-profit organizations could help individuals to develop the different sections of their application, as is the approach to the need to which their project responds.

To get examples of proposals, see our article How do I draft a proposal to obtain philanthropic contributions? Where do I find examples of proposals? And then we offer you additional resources, including real examples of proposals written by individuals.

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