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How to write effective funding proposals

'Gear away from the academic, from the reportage. Just try to tell a story.'

Writer John Silva with the attendees of the workshop "Communicating for Social Change"

MANILA, Philippines – Here’s a tip when you send a project request: try telling a story.

This is what John Silva, an expert on grant and advocacy writing, told the attendees of the “Communicating for Social Change” workshop organized by the British Council and Rappler.

Silva, who gave a talk on how to effectively write project proposals and requests, said that a successful proposal can take the form of storytelling.

“Gear away from the academic. Gear away from the reportage. Just try to tell a story,” he advised.

He shared to the attendees the story of how once he sent a funding request to a businessman for the National Library, which he headed during the administration of former president Joseph Estrada. The former president had ordered the National Library to give free access to the poor, hence Silva had to seek for funding for it.

He narrated in his funding request to the businessman about how a group of poor women once asked him to grant the children in their community a free tour inside the museum. Their houses in a slum area were about to be demolished, and the women wanted these children to just visit the museum, have fun there, and not witness the demolition.

Silva said the businessman agreed to give financial support, and even gave him a thank-you note for the touching story.

“If you become a storyteller, you will have so much more going to [your proposal],” he said.


But for the storytelling to be effective, a person requesting for grants has to establish credibility among funders.

Reputation is important. The reputation of the organization should be sterling clean so that the story would be believable,” Silva said.

He added that there are some organizations and governments that take a very serious look at requests, hence the stories should really be factual.

Organizations should also establish their gratitude, Silva added. He said that an organization’s gratitude spells how much it can look back to its funders.

“The biggest sin you can commit is not thanking [the funders] enough,” he said.

COMMUNICATING FOR SOCIAL CHANGE. 40 young leaders gather in a seminar-workshop for social change

Aside from writing funding proposals, the attendees, composed of selected young leaders, will also be hearing talks on how to get support for their causes, and how to utilize new media to advance their advocacies.

The seminar-workshop, which runs up to March 27, Tuesday, aims to provide an opportunity for youth leaders to find their voice, gain new skills as facilitators of change, and grow their capacity for citizen action towards a more just world. It is jointly sponsored by the British Council and Rappler. – Rappler.com