Last week, we focused on identifying and justifying the needs your organization is working to meet. If you missed it, you can read it here. This week we will look at the solution to the problems or issues you have identified—the Program description. In one word, the program description is your organization’s Solution!
The program description provides you with an opportunity to describe your program in detail to the prospective funder. On many scoring rubrics, this section of the proposal is worth about 1/3 of the total available points. Clearly, if you don’t receive the available points in this section, you are not likely to receive the requested funding.
Throughout this section, it is important to focus on solving the issue that you have described in the Needs Statement. Don’t make any assumptions about what you think is common knowledge, spell out the program details to the reader, removing any acronyms or any jargon commonly used in the organization. This includes helping the potential funder to make the connection between the program you are describing and success.
Use an Evidence-Based Program or Best Practices Model
Many funders are looking for programs that use best practices or are evidence-based. These are program models that have been proven to work. Many curriculums and program resources on the market have documentation proving their effectiveness. Before making a commitment to model your program after one of these, check to ensure that:
- Implementation will occur in a community similar to those used in the research process
- Your organization can implement the program according to the guidelines (If unable to do so, you may not get the same results).
Writing the Program Description
Once you have selected an evidence-based program or best practice model, it is time to begin writing the program description. When writing, include as many details about the program as possible, in the space allotted. This section is where you will provide information about the methods you will use in the program for which you are seeking funding. If using an evidence-based practice, reference the studies done to prove its effectiveness.
Describe, using action verbs, the activities that are included in the proposed program. Unless requested elsewhere in the proposal, it is a good idea to include a timeline of how you envision the program occurring. Demonstrate to the funder that your organization has the capacity to implement the program and a plan for doing so. In many proposals, you will also be asked to provide detail about how the program will be staffed and the hiring criteria for staff.
Ultimately, the program description is your organization’s response to the needs that you have identified and described in the Needs Statement. It may be difficult for someone who doesn’t know your organization to make the connection between the stated needs and your program—it is your job to “spell it out” for the reviewer to be certain the connection is made.
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When writing the program description take the time to think through how the program or service will meet the needs, then be clear in your writing with a goal of demonstrating your organization has the capacity and ability to implement the program.