How To Create Winning Proposals

How To Create Winning Proposals

The thought of writing a proposal overwhelms many people, but the task does not have to be daunting. There is a simple and proven method to making sure your proposal rocks.

Your proposal has to be well-nigh perfect to even have a chance of being discussed, let alone funded. Yes, proposal writing is the hardest part of the job, simply because there’s so much at stake for all parties concerned. 

Golden rule – hit hard with your proposal:

 

  1. What are you aiming to achieve?
  2. Talk to the right people
  3. Why should they give you the money?
  4. Write it well – create a work of art
  5. Make sure your figures add up and are based on fact, not fiction
  6. Grit your teeth and dig deep – proposals rarely get signed off first time round


Create winning proposals with our 6 steps to success.

Proposals are written when people need to ask permission to make a purchase, do a project, or write a paper; the proposal is a formal way of putting forth an idea and asking for action to be taken on that idea.  If you can write a proposal to successfully get funding, then the rest are a piece of cake.

 

  1. Clarify your Objectives
  2. Analyze the Audience
  3. Evaluate the Solution. 
  4. Get your Thoughts on Paper.
  5. Outshine Your Competitors.
  6. Write the Proposal.
  7. Apply the Finishing Touches.

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1. Clarify Your Objectives

Why are you writing the proposal and what outcome does it need to achieve?

If you are not clear on this, then your proposal is dead in the water. This is where the Executive Summary comes in.

What is the question or need you are going to answer with this funding, how are you going to answer or meet it, with what approach? Show that you have thought hard about it, you have considered your options, and have seen the whole journey up to the success point.

Hopefully the reader is interested in finding out details after reading the Executive Summary. This is where you explain the needs that you are going to address. 

2. Analyze the Audience

Type of Funders of Authorizers

Make sure you know your audience / client and have researched their who, what and why. If you are looking for funding and sign-off of financials, determine the industry as this will determine the template content each industry requires.

There are a number of different funders from a variety of areas, including:

 

  • Government
  • Municipal
  • Provincial
  • Federal
  • Giving Foundations
  • Family
  • Corporate
  • Community
  • Service Club
  • Not-for-Profit Organizations

If a funder has provided specific application details always follow those. If not there are some common elements that can be looked at.

3. Get Your Thoughts on Paper

You need to outline the problem that you are going to address with specifics about the target audience and the need from their perspective. You are seeking this money to primarily help your target population not your organization. You will need to show a tie to your organizations mission. Of course you will also need to include reference to previous work with this population, previous studies or projects. Include all stakeholders as well.

Most proposals would include the following components:

 

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Defining the Need
  • Desired Results
  • Outputs
  • Outcomes
  • Impact
  • Resources and Activities
  • Budget
  • Evaluation Plan
  • Sustainability
  • Conclusion
  • Appendices

4. Write the Proposal 

When showing that you fully understand the needs for this project be sure to use facts and evidence- this is no time for speculation and platitudes. Be careful in showing the need that you do not paint too bleak a picture! It is important that you show the problem to not be insurmountable and that you provide a unique solution to the problem. If others have attempted to address the situation acknowledge them and without being critical, show how your project will address the needs.

Also remember to be realistic in what you can accomplish- it will show in your proposal if you are promising things you cannot possibly deliver!

5. Apply the Finishing Touches

Proof, edit, review and proof one more time! Check any stats, calculations and financials to make sure there are 0 errors. If stakeholders are signing off funds, they need to know that financial control and understanding is solid.

Use a checklist to go back over your proposal.

Example checklist:

 checklist-review.jpg

5. Outshine Your Competitors 

MESSAGE + CONNECTION = WINNING PROPOSAL 

Remember what we set out to do – hit hard with your proposal.

 

  1. What are you aiming to achieve?
  2. Talk to the right people
  3. Why should they give you the money?
  4. Write it well – create a work of art
  5. Make sure your figures add up and are based on fact, not fiction
  6. Grit your teeth and dig deep – proposals rarely get signed off first time round

Now read back through your proposal and ask yourself, “Would I give me the money”.

If the answer is yes, you have a winning proposal. If the answer is no, go back to Step 1, and review, revise, get a second opinion from a trusted source, and re-write until you can shout yes from the rooftops.

Most of all, believe!


 

Sue Brett

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