Writing winning proposals - October 28, 2015

Key points on "What's in a winning corporate proposal" facilitated by Raj Rajkumar, Director and Site Leader at TE Connectivity.

What do Corporates look for?

The points below reflect some factors that corproates take into account when making a funding deccision. It may ot apply universally to all. Each company will have its own set of parameters too.

  1. Companies like to play safe - they will look for organisations that do work that will "fit in" with their CSR focus easily.
  2. The decision making usually involves a personal "liking" or familiarity with an NGO, its founder or Board member. There is comfort in knowing the person behind the organisation - this is specially true for younger organisations or where the support is being extended for the first time
  3. Internal champions play a key role in deciding which organisations to support. If that internal champion is the CEO, or a senior level executive, their views will play a significant role in the decision 
  4. Companies look for impact that can be very easily seen and measured - and long term too. 
  5. A simple straightforward methodology that achieve that impact is usually a deciding factor for support.
  6. Rarely do companies support "Big Bang" initiatives of other NGOs- they will only if they are also the implementing agency or are doing it through their own foundations. Sometimes , companies will "incubate" these ideas but will do it more likely as a small pilot first.
  7. There needs to be some evidence of sustainability in the project- therefore those projects where this is   very difficult will be less preferred options.

 What can NGO proposals contain be more "corporate support ready"

  1. Start with a human story - of one person whose life changed because of your organisation
  2. Where its possible, present your initial information as a powerpoint not exceeding 4-5 slides. People do not have the time to read long proposals and if there is initial interest will come back to you for more information.
  3. You can present the entire proposal as a short video with pictures, testimonials and add on the financial ask alone as a slide. The video should be no longer than 4 -5 minutes. There are easy ways to do this now 
  4. The slides should contain lots of pictures and very little text- use bullets and not long sentences.
  5. Anything that can be hyperlinked to an external source of information must be presented as such
  6. Make sure that there is synchrony between your financial information and the number of beneficiaries you are reaching out to or plan to. People will do a simple math when making an initial decision - no. of beneficiaries divide by total budget- how many people 's lives are being impacted and at what cost is what they are trying to arrive at
  7. Ensure that there is 100%  timely legal and statutory compliance and state the same proactively. Provide 3rd party references to validate this where possible
  8. Provide information on your methodology of work and how you will audit your progress - what are the milestones, how will you measure progress, what it will cost at each stage etc. The breaking down of this is very helpful in making a decision and reveals the detailing thought you have put into the plan
  9. Allow for minor deviations that may occur - stating that this is possible communicates honesty and helps build trust in the corporate.
  10. Provide information in a simple, uncomplicated fashion.

 How can NGOs leverage/engage corporates for support?

  1. Research the corporate that you are exploring support from thoroughly. Look up their senior management, find out if any of them has supported a specific cause anywhere, are they on the Board of any organisation...some of this information is more easily available than before.
  2. Corporates that are MNC's vis a vis Indian based or family enterprises, make decisions very differently. MNC's are usually given their guidelines from their parent company which may not be located in India. 
  3. Cold mailing/calling rarely works - get involved in forums where corporate professionals are likely to be present - start by engaging informally first, telling people you meet there about your work . Some of these forums are available online on Linked In - there are CSR professionals groups that you could explore being part of. 
  4. Corporates are concerned about employee engagement. One option is to offer employees in a corporate an opportunity to engage with your organisation/beneficiaries in a one time event. Invest in the costs of doing this - and start a relationship - You could invite a group to come , visit, celebrate a festival with your beneficiaries etc. Internal champions are built this way.
  5. If you already are being funded by a specific corporate or organisation seek references from them to people in other companies. The corporate world is well networked. Leverage the same.
  6. Invite people to events that you maybe having at your own organisation. Its n occasion for them to see what you do and for you to initiate a relationship
  7. have honest conversations once you have built relationships- its OK to fail occasionally- everyone understands the same.