You may think that receiving a grant award is a lot like a “roll of the dice”. Not necessarily. There are steps you can take to improve your probability. Consider the value of the Concept Paper.

What is a Concept Paper?

A short grant proposal, up to five pages in length.

Why a Concept Paper?

1. Qualification of your program or project is key to obtaining an award. First, make sure your project or program aligns with the mission of the foundation. Best practices include confirming upfront that a potential funder is truly interested in your proposal.

2. Writing a full grant proposal can be a lengthy process and require weeks of work. Getting funder feedback can provide valuable information that will strengthen your proposal. The feedback will allow you to tweak the proposal where necessary.

3. There is a lot of competition for foundation dollars. A request for a full proposal, while not a guarantee for funding, is a good indicator of interest and especially if the foundation has reviewed your Concept Paper. Before you begin writing and collecting supporting documents and financial reports, make sure you have an interested funder.

When is writing a concept paper a good idea?

Concept papers are particularly good for well-developed, new projects and programs.

Be clear, accurate and concise when crafting your Concept Paper. Review the proposal objectively and think about questions someone outside of your organization might ask. If possible, ask someone who is not familiar with your project or program to review and get their feedback. Work out the kinks before submitting the Concept Paper.

Focus on illustrating the intent and structure of your proposed project or program; the Concept Paper should give the potential funder a good snapshot of what you want to accomplish. By generating interest, the concept paper creates a good starting point for discussion.

What are the typical elements of a Concept Paper?

  • Title – should be descriptive and reflect the goals of the program or project.
  • Introduction – an overview of the program or project and summaries the key points. It should contain a statement of what you are seeking.
    Statement of Need – a description of the program and the problems that will be addressed. Include information and data that supports you claims.
  • Budget – the amount of money needed and what the funds will be used for, i.e., the project, staff salaries, or other expenses.
  • Organization description – a summary of your organization’s capabilities and ability to achieve stated goals. Describe your successes, expertise and contributions to your community.
  • Project description – a description of your program or project and highlight what makes your proposal innovative.
  • Summary – conclude with the impact and the purpose of the program or project. Make sure it is powerful and persuasive, and drives your program or project to the forefront of the other requests.

    First Impressions…, “you only have one chance for a first impression”

    Design your concept paper to grab the attention of the specific funder you are approaching. Make sure that your document is well formatted, easy to read, and does not contain confusing jargon or acronyms. Take the time to proof-read, and edit and to proof-read and edit again.The Concept Paper is the first document presenting your new program or project. Make it interesting and engaging so that you will be asked to submitted a full proposal.

Good luck and best wishes, Kathi

Believe in possibility and in yourself.