How To Write A Concept Note For A Research Paper

Proposal writing is just one step in the grant-seeking process. It must be part of a process of planning and of research: Far more time should be spent developing the program or project and researching and cultivating donors than preparing the actual proposal. 

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Funders often ask for a one- or two-page concept paper prior to submission of a full proposal. This helps the funder save time by eliminating ideas that are not likely to be funded and may also serve as a platform for further discussion with the funder’s program officer.

What is a Concept Note?A Concept Note is perhaps the shortest expression your project idea given on paper to a donor. It is usually requested by the donor in situations where no proposals have been solicited from NGOs. Most of the donor agencies prefer to understand the project through a Concept Note rather than a full-fledged proposal.

What should be the size of the Concept Note?

This actually depends upon the donor requesting the Concept Note. However, we need to remember that it is the shortest possible text for our project idea. So, shorter the better. Most donor agencies request a minimum of one page to a maximum of three pages.

Is there a specific format for writing the Concept Note?

Usually donors do not have a format for a Concept Note as they have for a full proposal. But, there are some agencies, which issue solicitation for Concept Notes based upon a basic format given in the guidelines.

Is the Concept Note useful for the applying NGO as well?

Concept Note has many advantages for NGOs seeking funds. It practically gives a framework for ideas when they are organized on paper. It is also the first expression of the project and gives the flexibility for the organization to work and re-work on idea before presenting it to the donor.

What are the contents of the Concept Note?

While there is no standard format for a Concept Note, generally the following information is given:

1. Name of the Organization
2. Title of the Proposed Project
3. Potential Donor
4. Context (not more than 300 words)
5. Rationale for the Proposed Project
6. Project Goals and Objectives
7. Project Strategy/ Listing of Project Activities
8. Expected Results
9. Innovation: How different it is for other or earlier projects?
10. Organizational Background, including the expertise and experience.
12. Budget Estimate
13. Complete Contact Information of the NGO along with the name of the Contact Person.

Also check out our newest guide: A Quick Guide on How to Write Powerful Concept Notes

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