A good proposal will help you improve your reporting, writing, framing and fieldwork skills. Sometimes your proposal for a specific grant may fall short of some requirements, style or missing the mark completely. This article will assist journalists in upskilling, improving, and avoiding common mistakes when writing reporting proposal.
During a webinar organised by the Africa China Reporting Project (ACRP) in South Africa, Paula Fray, chief executive of Frayintermedia, shared guidelines on writing a good reporting proposal, more specifically for the ACRP. The project has been providing reporting grants since 2009. We share some general tips from this webinar for journalists to develop skills for preparing winning journalism proposals.
Fray says writing a good proposal is like writing a good story.
Targeted at your audience
In this case your audience is the donor or funder of the grant you are making a submission for. “Make sure that you understand the requirements of your donor. You need to understand what they’re looking for, what kind of submissions they’re looking for and not simply cut and paste something you’ve done previously,” says Fray. Always write for your audience.
Like when a journalist is working on a story idea or angle of a story, it is imperative that you do your research. When writing a proposal, you need to do your research on the idea you would like to include in your proposal. “You cannot say, give me the money to do the research, because the person funding you really wants to have the idea that the story that is being suggested, actually is doable,” says Fray. You need to give real thought and consideration to your idea.
Your proposal, like a story, needs to be written logically. Try to include headings and sub-headings to break up your information. It makes it easier for the person reviewing your application to find what they are looking for very quickly. Your proposal should have a logical flow and must include a problem statement, sets out what you are planning to do and until the budget. “When I say something needs to be written logically, you really have a conclusion that is backed-up by the story,” says Fray.
“In the same way as you have the conclusion that is backed up by the rest of the information in your story, in the proposal you have a budget backed up by the rest of the story.” The budget should not introduce new information that was not previously mentioned in the body of your proposal.
Your proposal should be formatted in a way that makes it easy for the reviewer to read. The proposal needs to be submitted in the format that is required by the funder or donor. “Clarity is absolutely important,” says Fray
“A good story makes deadline,” says Fray. Make sure that you submit all the required/supporting documents. “Don’t think you will be forgiven if you fail to submit one document because you have an amazing proposal,” Frays says. More often than not, proposals that fail to meet the deadline and/or are not submitted with all required documents do not get sent to panel for review. If a funder receives thousands of proposals, they begin sifting through these by looking at whether you submitted on time and that you have attached all supporting documents.
Want to stay up to date with the latest journalism and media innovation news from the African continent? Subscribe to our newsletter.