An unstructured concept note should ideally have a title, submitted by, date of submission as the primary information in the header section. Preferably, the title should be short but make sure it reflects the overall idea of the project that resonates with the donor’s objectives.
Introduction or Background
The first section of the project should be an ‘introduction’ or ‘background’ of the project where you can state the problem you are trying address and also explain what are the root causes of this problem. You can conclude this section with the ‘opportunity’ available for you to make the intervention and address the problem. Usually, the ‘opportunity’ can be in form of your own skills that can used to reduce the problem or a government policy.
Remember to give references in your narrative so that you can establish authority to the facts given. For example, if you explain that there is extensive poverty in the region, you need to supply some data and a reference. Also, try to give numbers in terms of men, women and children getting affected from the overall situation. In this way, you can ensure that gender has been integrated from the planning stage itself.
Goal and Objectives
List out the goal and objectives in this section. The goal is usually the long-term impact like ‘reduction in poverty’ or ‘improved living conditions of the people.’ It may not necessarily be achieved.
Objectives have to be specific and if provide numbers, it will be more helpful. For example, 100 women will have access to newer sources of livelihood’. Also limit your objectives to 3 or 5 – the lesser number of objective, the more practical the approach will be.
This section briefly analyzes the result of your project. You can list out the results that the project will achieve during the project period. For example, 100 households have increased income from agriculture.’ Again, numbers can be very important while narrating expected results.
A separate section explaining the uniqueness of your project will be very useful. As donors are interested to see what new value you are going add to this project, this section will quickly introduce them to the innovative approach you will use to address this problem. Although most concept notes may not have this section, but if you include it, it will create a positive effect to the donor agency.
The last section of the concept note will be the budget. Although detailed analysis is not required, you would still need to submit a reasonable sense of how much money you are seeking from the donor to execute the project. You can also give a quick breakup of the main items (not more than 5-6). Any matching contribution from you or any other agency can also be mentioned here.