How To Create a Solid Proposal
by Yumna Khan
While educational opportunities are improving rapidly across the world, it was not too long ago when most education systems were designed for the generations that had come before us, as rightly argued by Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned education and innovation expert.
Think back to your school days filled with math homework and science projects: did you ever learn how to think creatively to solve social issues in your community? The answer for most of us is no. Our education systems did not expose us to the idea of being “entrepreneurial” and navigating the world of social entrepreneurship. Fortunately, in today’s world, there are increasingly more opportunities presented to us, in particular with social venture competitions sprouting across the globe. Not only do youth start to find success in the world of social entrepreneurship, but there are more ways to win support for groundbreaking ideas than ever before.
A year ago, the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation embarked on encouraging youth action through its Impact Challenge, presenting one more entryway for aspiring young entrepreneurs to make the change they seek at the global stage.
The Impact Challenge invites The Youth Assembly delegates to develop impactful and innovative solutions to human development, peace and security, and environmental issues outlined in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Participating delegates design and pitch proposals for a social impact project of their own creation for a chance to win seed funding and mentorship to help launch their vision into action.
Your entrepreneurship journey starts with creating a solid plan. Here are five must-dos for passionate young leaders, changemakers and talented mission-driven youth in order to succeed in developing a strong and competitive proposal and transform ideas into meaningful impact:
In the world of entrepreneurship, there is no such thing as having too much information. The more you know, the better off you will be. You must be equipped to answer any question from a judge or sponsor in a competition. In fact, you are more likely to gain the confidence of a judge or sponsor when you demonstrate your comfort level on the topic at hand.
Read, Research and Talk to everyone you can about your topic. Make RRT a ritual. When it comes to solution-building, information is power.
Background and skill set
Ask yourself, what knowledge and skills do you need to tackle the problem? While you can always obtain more knowledge, it won’t be enough if you don’t already have a strong background in the area. You will need people who possess the knowledge and skills to carry out your project.
Build a strong team with various relevant backgrounds and skill sets to make your solution multidimensional and proposal even stronger.
Be specific about what you will do
It’s true that your passion and knowing the issue inside and out is immensely important and a driving force in your journey to impact, but being able to convey what you will do about it is just as important. Once you know the issue, shift your focus to delving deeper into solving the problem.
It is easier to speak from your heart about an issue, but it takes planning to be clear about what actions you will take to tackle the problem. Channel your passion for the issue towards the solution and convey it with as much, if not more sincerity.
How do you translate this into your proposal? Write a strong summary and mission for your project to hook the reader. Think about one of the best movies you have watched. Why was it good? It typically sets a strong tone from the beginning that something good will be coming up.
Now that you’ve set up the foundation, deliver it!
What are your assumptions for your project?
All ideas are formed on assumptions, but sometimes they go unnoticed. Does your idea heavily rely on a specific kind of resource or partner to carry it out? How feasible will securing such a resource be? You cannot assume all of the pieces in your puzzle will fall in place at the right time as planned.
Here’s how to minimize assumptions and maximize action: List down everything that you think will be in place by the time you are ready to launch your idea. Now go back through the list and put a check next to those things you can do on your own without too much reliance on others (i.e. partners).
Review what remains and find alternatives that can add the same value to your idea without relying on a specific type of resource. The goal is to do as much as you can with as little as possible because new ideas may not attract a large pool of resources immediately. Rest assured, it will happen but over time. Your first goal should be to self-sustain your project.
The 5 W’s & How
While who, what, when, where and why are essential pieces of information, how your solution will impact lives has to be your driver and end-goal.
You should keep asking yourself, how will this solution impact lives? It will help you think through your actions with the target population/beneficiary in mind. You need to understand the impact you will make before you make it happen.
‘How have you impacted lives’ will also be the single most asked question after you have implemented your solution. Be ready with concrete answers. Both qualitative and quantitative data will be needed to show your impact.
Even after carefully considering these steps, you still may not have all the answers and that is very normal. This is where your presentation will be key. Your idea must be presented in a way that is solid and congruent to get you the support you are looking for. You will have to practice, practice, and practice! There is a reason why ‘practice makes perfect’ is cliché.
You need to develop a speech that is convincing and will push people to listen to your idea. Check out this Ted Talk by Julian Treasure to help you gear up to give your best presentation.