A concept note is a familiar term with most of you I suppose. It largely depends on the areas you work in or are involved in. If you are an academic, a consultant or actively involved in civic society, concept notes can be a norm. Regardless, a concept note can be relevant to any scenario in any industry. That is why you must have a basic appreciation of what a concept note is. Today we shall look at the basics of drafting a concept note. Knowing this might open some doors for you that you never imagined.

What Is A Concept Note?

This is a summarized proposal describing an idea and how it can be materialized. No wonder it is called a concept note because a concept is an abstract and general idea. A note on the other hand denotes a brief piece of writing. You can also define a concept note as a proposed project outline in brief. I am sure you now get what a concept note is; the name says it all. However, we need to dig deeper into its purpose, composition and other related details.

Concept Note Purpose And Composition

The use of a concept note varies from context to context. For example, I have noticed that regarding funding in civic society concept notes tend to be needed. A donor or funder will usually request a concept note before an actual project proposal. This is good for both parties in that you do not waste time and resources. Imagine the disappointment of putting together a 20-page proposal that ends up not being funded.

Starting with a concept note, which is short, sets the tone for whether or not the intended project is something the donor or funder would be interested in or not. This is the core use of a concept note. It can be requested; usually when it is about formal calls for proposals. Alternatively, it can simply be you approaching a prospect with a concept note. Then if they are interested and willing you can move on to an actual proposal.

A concept note usually has 8 sections though formats can vary. Here is a breakdown of the composition of a concept note:


As with any title, it must be short and precise. Most importantly it must draw your audience in. Thus it must not only be catchy but also compelling.


This section is meant to show the existence of some problem or challenge. Then you demonstrate why there is a need to address it. You can also include details on whether or not it is being addressed. The whole idea is to show that there is a gap that must be filled.


What does the proposed project seek to achieve? You do not necessarily need to go into intricate details here. You just have to outline the generalized goals that are being strived for.


This is tied to the objectives of the proposed project. Broadly, you have to mention the material and immaterial outputs of the project. For example, people trained or certified is a material output. Awareness is an example of an immaterial output i.e. it is not tangible (though it does have indicators). These are aspects you must cover under outputs.


The things that will be done to achieve the objectives are the activities in question here. It is also necessary to include timelines i.e. the when and how long for the activities. Remember, it is just an overview or summary.


This is a huge part of a concept note. This is usually one of the key parts in convincing (or not) your audience. You are looking at how the project will influence or affect the intended beneficiaries. You include your premises for those postulations and how you will assess the impacts.

Project Management

This part looks at how the project will be managed. It looks at things like project roles and responsibilities. It also covers the monitoring and evaluation aspects. Remember, project management looks at the organization and management of resources in such a way that a project is completed within the defined scope, quality, time and cost constraints.


The last part will be the budget. However, bear in mind that this section is not always necessary. It is usually wise to include it upon request. In cases where the concept note is unsolicited, it would be prudent to include it just in case.

There you go; the basics of drafting a concept note. It gets easier the more you do them. If you are unsure about how to draft one yourself look for someone who can. It is a good way to make money if you are good at drafting concept notes. You can provide that as a service.