Tips & Tricks - Writing A Powerful Concept Note

In recent times, many donor agencies prefer their grant-seeking applicants to submit a comprehensive concept note about their proposed project before submitting a full project proposal. In my 7 year career in development work, i have also observed this trend in many of the major aid organization.

In some cases, these concept notes can be highly structured requesting in-depth information about the project and in some other cases, it can just be an overview of the project idea. Nevertheless, the concept note is your initial step to tap the donor agency for funding. If the idea is interesting, you may be requested to submit a full proposal.

Many a times as a training and capacity building programmer in development work, I have been asked on numerous occasions these questions: What exactly is a concept note? How much time does it take in preparing it? What should go into it?

A concept note is a brief outline of the project you have in your mind. A simple version of it will include an introduction, a background, proposed objectives and results and a budget overview. Ideally, it should not be more than 6 pages unless the donor agency has specific requirements that may go as far as sharing with you a template or sharing the same on their website. If you wish to supply extra information, you can always annex documents such as your  Organization Profile, Annual Reports or Audit Reports -but do not make them part of the body of the concept.

A concept note can be produced in a matter of hours. In some other cases, it can also take a few days. But research is quite critical in both the cases and experienced planners develop extensive notes by; organizing meetings with project stakeholders (mainly the beneficiaries of the project) before starting to write a concept note.

The concept note is not only an important document for making your first contact with the donor; it is also the basic layout to your project plan. The layout will form the foundation to develop a full proposal document soon after you hear a positive feedback from your potential donor.


Good luck in your concept formulation!

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