One of the most critical parts of the foundation development process is planning your project. The more specific your plans, the better your proposals will be.
When organizations do not plan their projects well enough in advance, they often find either that they cannot deliver what they have promised – or that they have promised a project that meets the interests of the donor more than the interests of the organization.
Your organization’s senior staff should be able to identify your station’s top priority programs/projects. These may already be outlined in a strategic plan. For more information, see What to Know About Your Station. Once you have information on what the projects are, you need to ask and answer a series of questions about how they will be implemented and what their impact will be. The answers to these questions should come from your station’s senior management and/or program staff. It is the job of the development staff to present the programs to donors in compelling ways – but not to plan the programs themselves.
Questions About Projects
Project Description/Need for Project
- In one sentence, what is the program or project?
- How does the program/project help us fulfill our mission? Does it in any way shift our mission or drift away from it?
- What is the need or opportunity that is driving this program/project? Is there external data to support this?
- Is this program/project part of a long-range plan?
- In what way does the program/project expand upon or grow out of our current activities?
- Is the program/project new or is it part of our ongoing activities? If it is ongoing, why are we deciding to seek grant funding at this point in time?
- How will this program/project be implemented?
- What are the specific goals and outcomes identified for this project? How did we arrive at these?
- What is the timeline for implementation? Do we have a work plan and benchmarks for accomplishing our goals?
- What are the plans for staffing this project? What are the qualifications of the key staff responsible for implementation?
- What has already been accomplished toward this program/project? (If it is an ongoing project, what have its successes been to date?)
- What are the major challenges to success in implementing this project? How will these challenges be addressed?
- Has our organization been successful in the past in launching/implementing similar projects?
- What benefits will this program/project bring to the community that our station serves? What will be different because of this activity?
- Could this project serve as a model for others?
- In what ways is this project innovative?
- How will we determine if the program/project is successful? What measurements will we use to evaluate it? Who will conduct the evaluation? At what point(s) will the project be evaluated?
- How will we use the results of our evaluation?
Funding and Sustainability
- What is the estimated cost for the project?
- Where will funding come from? Is any of the funding already committed?
- How, specifically, will the program/project be sustained after the grant expires?