Design Your Project

Is it a Project?

Just as it is difficult to narrow down a topic when writing a book, article, or paper, so it is when conceiving and designing a fundable project. Be careful of ideas larger than you can possibly manage. To give you an idea of the difference between a good idea and a good project, consider this distinction: eradicating world hunger is a good idea, but it is not a fundable project. Operating a food bank, a soup kitchen, or a meals on wheels program are examples of things that are more like a project. And getting even more specific within these programs, such as conceiving of a clever way to deliver your anti-hunger program in a rural area, makes it even more of a project.

1. To determine if your project is fundable, ask yourself:

  • Can you identify who benefits? Is this an appropriate population to benefit?
  • Is what you propose to do doable by your organization, within the time frame you identify?
  • Does it have a beginning, a middle, and an end?
  • Does it have a focused goal?
  • Can you answer the question, So what?
  • Does it have measurable objectives?
  • How will you know when you've met your goal?

2. These are things that will give your project Bonus Points:

  • Your organization has made its own investment into the project. It best shows the value it places on a project by the degree to which it tries to make it happen.
  • Along these same lines, indicate whether the possibility of a grant will leverage other investments into your project.
  • Your project is inclusive of those you seek to help, either in planning, directing, or execution.
  • Your work will be done collaboratively with other parts of your organization, or with community partners, such as schools, local government, nonprofit and community groups, and/or business.
  • Funding your project will benefit many people who are in need. Funders want to change the world for the better, but do not have the resources to meet all needs. Show them how far their investment will go with your project.
  • What you propose is novel, a new way of looking at things, shows exciting promise. This is especially important with foundations, which want to be associated with new, cutting-edge work, especially if it becomes a standard by which others operate or if it changes policy in a way that supports their targeted constituencies and issues.
  • The outcomes of your work are replicable so as to benefit many more. Funders want their investments to go as far as possible.
  • You can demonstrate that the work will be continued after the grant has ended.