A faith-based proposal, typically written by a church or church council, is essentially the same as a non-profit proposal. However, faith-based proposals tend to be for targeted situations related to helping those in need either locally or abroad.
You probably know your church’s operations inside and out, but you might be new to proposal writing. The task of creating a faith-based business proposal might seem daunting, but don’t panic: there are ways to make your job easier. Plenty of resources exist that will show you how to introduce yourself, highlight your organization, outline your needs, and help potential supporters and funders understand that you and your cause deserve their support. Here’s the key: you don’t have to start from nothing, staring at a blank computer screen. Beginning with pre-written topics and reviewing similar sample proposals can help you write your own winning proposal quickly and efficiently.
It doesn’t matter if you are involved in education, helping the homeless, providing shelter, improving medical access, or gathering food and toys for the holidays. The general structure of a faith-based proposal will always remain the same.
If you are taking the time to write a detailed proposal, it’s a good bet that the funding or support request is for a substantial amount and your proposal will be delivered to a foundation or other large organization. So your proposal should appear professional and business-like.
New proposal writers sometimes make the mistake of talking too much about themselves and not focusing enough on the organization they are requesting support from. Don’t do that. Simply asking for support or talking about your organization is only one part of a proposal. Keep in mind that the purpose of a non-profit proposal is to persuade another party to give you their money or material support. To succeed, you must gain the trust of the decision makers and make them understand that you can effectively deliver the goods and services to those in need.
One benefit that a faith-based non-profit organization comes with is an implicit sense of trust. Building trust is a key component (if not the most important) of a business deal. While you will still need to include topics to instill that sense of trust in your project and organization, this task will be easier for a faith-based organization.
A few foundations and companies will provide support and funding without any strings attached or expectations of anything in return, but with others, you may need to think in terms of asking for support or funding as a marketing avenue. In other words, your proposal will be more persuasive when you describe benefits you can bring to the supporting organization.
To describe those benefits, you would include topics such as your Constituency, Community, Demographics, and so on. Combine these with topics showing a Marketing Plan and Benefits, and show how the funding organization would benefit from giving you their support. Consider adding topics such as Social Responsibility and Philanthropy to outline how supporting your organization will raise the visibility of that organization in the community and give their reputation a positive boost. You not only want to show off your organization and sing the praises of what you have to offer, but also demonstrate how beneficial the association would be to the funding company.
As a general rule to prepare for writing a non-profit proposal, your first step should be to collect enough information about the potential funding organization to present a proposal that is tailored to that funder. Yes, this research might take some extra work, but that work is much more likely to pay off in crafting a winning proposal. You are in this to get the support your program needs, and you must show that money or material support will be effectively used. Established organizations that provide funding usually have an organizational culture, a donation strategy, and selection and participation rules already in place. If you know how they operate and the types of projects and needs they prefer to support, you can tailor your support request accordingly.
Consider the interests of the funding organization you are approaching. Small local businesses are more likely to be willing to provide support for a local community project. A multi-national company will be more likely to support an international outreach program. A medical supply company will be more likely to support a project to provide medical care. A construction company will be more likely to support a project to build a shelter. Learning about the backgrounds of the funding companies will help you align the message in your proposal to the values and mission statements of those you approach for support.
After you’ve gathered information on your prospective supporter, writing the proposal is a reasonably straightforward process. That’s because most proposals seeking funding or support follow a similar structure: first comes your introduction, then a summary of the needs that you are addressing, followed by descriptions of the services you will provide or the project you are proposing, as well as all the associated details and costs. Provide information to help the funder understand how they would benefit from supporting your cause and what you can provide to them in exchange. Then, conclude the proposal with information about your organization, such as History, relevant Experience, Credentials, and Capabilities, Vision, Mission Statement and so on.
The introduction section should include a Cover Letter and a Title Page. In the Cover Letter, simply deliver a personal introduction, provide your organization’s contact information, and state your request. The Title Page should introduce your tailored proposal and give a clear message about the project or scope of services you are proposing. Some examples might be “Christmas Toy and Food Drive Needs Your Help,” “Send a Student Abroad for the Summer,” “Rosemont Church Needs Support for Homeless Shelter,” or “Support for Children’s Vaccination Program in Guatemala.”
After your Cover Letter and Title Page, add topic pages that detail the issues faced by the cause you support and explain the support needed. In this section, add topics like Executive Summary, Needs Assessment, Goals and Objectives, Implementation Plan, and Project Background.
After you’ve described your cause, add pages to show that you understand the organization you are requesting support or funding from. This is where you would outline what they would receive for supporting you, using topics such as Benefits, Philanthropy, Social Responsibility, and so on.
After the sections for the needs and the funder comes your turn to explain what you will do. Include topics like Project Management, Project Methods, and Personnel. Then include topics to generate trust in your organization, using topics such as Evaluation, Resources, Sources of Funds, Use of Funds, Sustainability, Future Potential, Supporters, Partnerships, Mission Statement, Tax Status, Legal Structure, Experience, Credentials, Capabilities, Programs and Activities, and Awards and Achievements. In other words, include all the topics you need to convince the supporter that you can be trusted to effectively deliver the services and make the best use of their support, that you have the resources to deliver on your promises, and (if needed) that you have a plan for the longevity of the program. Wrap up your proposal with a call to action: include a Funding Request, ask for other support, or request a meeting for further discussion.
After you have all the information written for your proposal, focus on making your proposal look good. Add a splash of color and graphics by incorporating your church’s or organization’s logo and a matching title page cover. Consider using colored borders and selecting custom bullet points and fonts that match your organization’s style.
Proofread and spell-check every page. You should have someone who is unfamiliar with your proposal proof it as well, because it’s all too easy to overlook your own mistakes.
Finally, save your proposal as a PDF file or print it, and then deliver it to the potential supporter. The best delivery method will depend on your organization and your relationship with the funder. Emailing PDF files to others is common but a nicely printed, hand-delivered proposal may impress the receiving party more, because it shows you’re willing to make a personal effort.
Obviously, each faith-based proposal will vary in details because of variations in organizations and projects. The good news is that faith-based proposals follow a similar format and structure, and you can find all the pre-written topic pages you need in a proposal kit. A kit of templates contain explanations of details those particular pages should contain; they will guide you to write and format appropriate information for your proposal sections. A proposal kit will also contain a wide variety of sample non-profit proposals, including faith-based proposals. These samples will give you great ideas and help you get a jump start on writing your own winning proposal.
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