Tips for project concept note

What is a Project concept note?

A concept note is a brief outline of your proposed project. “The purpose of a concept paper, from the funding agency’s point of view, is to help applicants develop more competitive proposals and to save time by eliminating proposals that are not likely to be funded. The applicant’s purpose in developing a concept paper is to capture the interest of the funding agency and demonstrate that the idea they are proposing is worthy of further consideration (AUB 2010). Therefore, the need to write an eye-catching and very innovative concept note is very important. In most cases may not exceed 5 pages, however it depends on the client's guidelines and format provided during the bidding process.

Types of project concept note

Depends on the need of clients, however, all types of concept notes share any similarities;

  • ACCF - Africa Climate Change Forum
  • USAID 
  • European Commission

 General Template for Concept Note (Adapted from PHILIP et al. 2008)

  1. Title: it should be snappy, informative, and distinctive. It may be divided into two parts with the first one being short and catching the readers’ attention and the second one more ‘serious’ and informative.
  2. Background: it may be composed following two guiding questions: 1. Why it is crucial to address the problem identified?; 2. What has already been done to solve the problem?
  3. Objectives: they should relate to the more general objectives as previously agreed and entered into the local action plan.
  4. Outputs: they should be directly related to the project objectives. Typically they are tangible items, such as a newly constructed technical facility, the publication of information materials, or events, such as workshops or stakeholder meetings. Depending on the project in question, intangible items might also be mentioned, such as a rise in awareness (see PPT).
  5. Activities and duration: a summary of the planned activities to achieve the project objectives should be included here.
  6. Beneficiaries and impacts: this section will be important for getting “buy-in” from the donor. It should contain: The expected benefits, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, and when and where they will occur; The underlying assumptions and the reasons why these benefits can be expected; for a specific group of beneficiaries; Considerations concerning how and by whom the impacts will be assessed.
  7. Project management (includes monitoring and evaluation): this section should explain how the objectives will be achieved and how the project will be managed and evaluated. It should become clear who will lead the project and what roles and responsibilities the various people in charge of tasks such as financial management, monitoring, and evaluation will have.
  8. Budget (only if requested by the donor agency): before drawing up the budget, it is necessary to get an overview of the inputs needed to achieve the objectives. These may be, for example, people, travel costs, vehicles, equipment, supplies, services, works, facilities, and overheads.

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