How to Write a Successful Funding Proposal

(How to Develop a Successful Project)

This guide contains general information only and is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice, contact a lawyer. (PDF Version, 105 kb, PDF Help)

Jennifer Walker, M.A. National Office for Victims, Public Safety Canada

Federal Symposium, Monday, April 19, 2010
Old City Hall
111 Sussex Drive, Ottawa


You have an idea for a project

  • Sketch out your idea, clarify it in your own mind, set the stage for the development that a proposal will require.
  • Draft a basic letter of intent and project timeline.

Looking for funders

  • Canadian philanthropic database
  • Different levels of government
  • Corporations, private companies
  • Individual donors
  • Importance of forming partnerships, in terms of multiple funders, in-kind partnerships, networks for referrals etc...

Found a fund ? what you need to know next

  • First contact a program officer who works with the fund. Find out what their funding year looks like, if you need to submit a proposal during a certain time period, if they first want to have a discussion with you or a letter of intent before developing the full proposal.
  • All funds are governed by terms and conditions which you need to access.
  • The federal government's policy on transfer payments. This can be found on the website of the Treasury Board Secretariat.

Creating a good proposal for an individual fund

  • Each fund has specific requirements and the department may require a template to apply or a proposal to take a certain form.
  • Good places to look to determine priorities in general are from the most recent Speech from the Throne and budget, the website of the Prime Minister's Office, news coverage of the government.
  • Good places to look for information specific to a department is on their individual websites. Look for reports such as the Report on Plans and Priorities and the Departmental Performance Report as well as press releases and speeches from the Minister etc...

Explaining the idea

  • Funders want to know precisely what you will do with the funds.
  • Many organizations will request a logic model that illustrates your project.
    • indicate your ultimate goal (i.e. to improve a victim's experience in dealing with the criminal justice system),
    • the outputs (what you'll see and measure on your way to your goal (i.e. increased victim satisfaction as measured by a survey), and;
    • the activities the project will undertake to get there (i.e. a companion attends court dates with the victim).
  • Ensure you have realistic timelines, particularly for start dates. Getting an agreement approved and in place can take time.
  • Evaluation plan
  • Create a sustainability plan in your project proposal.

Determining requirements (funding, personnel, in-kind)

  • Determine the true cost of the project.
  • In-kind support is very important to potential funders. Your organization will put a lot of human resources, overhead, equipment use etc. as might other organizations that you work with (eg., your office space is donated by a partner organization, University etc).
  • In-kind support usually counts towards the ?stacking limit' or total government assistance. It also indicates how invested your organization is in the project.

Voluntary Sector Initiative 2001...

  • Code of Good Practice on Funding (Government of Canada responsibilities)
    • Use multi-year funding agreements to enhance organizations stability and capacity for long-term planning.
    • Use flexible, allowable mechanisms such as advance payments, instalment payments or carry-over at year end payments.
    • Within the proposed budgets, include integral costs such as IT, human resources, facilities and financial management costs (such as audits).
    • Provide voluntary sector organizations with access to government planning processes and priorities so that they may respond with valuable proposals.
    • Make application and accountability standards flexible enough to account for the different capabilities of large and small organizations.
    • Facilitate joint funding agreements between different funders to minimize paperwork and maximize accountability.
    • Ensure that voluntary sector organizations understand the Treasury Board Policy on Transfer Payments and how it applies to individual agreements.

Successful Proposal leads to successful project

  • Once you are funded and the project is operational, keep the good relationship that you developed with the program officer going.
  • Stay on track according to your proposal and contribution agreement, discuss potential changes with your funder.
  • Allow the evaluators access as agreed upon and ensure staff and other key participants have ?bought-in' to the evaluation (it is for everyone's benefit).
  • Continue to manage your sustainability plans.
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