What is Proposal Writing?

Updated on August 2nd, 2022
What is Proposal Writing?

A proposal is a necessary marketing document that assists in cultivating an initial professional relationship between a donor and an organization over a project to be executed. The proposal sketches the organization's plan for the project, giving an extensive amount of information about the purpose for implementing it, the paths to manage it, and the outcomes to be produced from it.

What is the Purpose of Proposal Writing? 

The purpose of proposal writing is to convince the reader to implement a proposed solution or approve a proposed project. Most businesses rely on compelling proposal writing to ensure their business's successful continuation and get new contracts.

There are five types of proposal writing:

  • Solicited Proposals

Proposals are submitted to respond to a precise call disseminated by a sponsor. Such solicitations, commonly named Request for Proposals (RFP) or Request for Quotations (RFQ), have detailed technical and format content and conditions and specify certain award terms and conditions. Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs) are not regarded as formal solicitations.

  • Unsolicited Proposals

Proposals are presented to a sponsor that has not published a specific solicitation but is considered by the investigator to be interested in the topic.

  • Pre-Proposals

These are asked by a sponsor who wants to reduce an applicant's exertion in drafting a full proposal. Pre-proposals are in the form of a letter of intent or a brief abstract. After reviewing the pre-proposal, the sponsor informs the researcher if a full proposal is needed.

  • Non-competing Proposals

These proposals confirm the original and funding requirements of a multi-year project in which the sponsor has already given funding for an initial period (normally a year). However, continued support is dependent on satisfactory work progress and the availability of funds.

  • Renewal or Competing Proposals

Proposals that request continued support for an existing project that is about to end. From the sponsor's viewpoint, these requests generally have the same status as an unsolicited proposal.

What are Examples of Proposal Writing?

The following are some examples of proposal writing.

Digital Marketing Proposals 

A digital marketing proposal is a document submitted by a digital marketing agency, consultant, business, or freelancer to a potential client. It is a document designed to convince potential clients to receive strategic digital marketing services, campaigns, or projects.

Financial Services Proposal 

Financial services proposals are meant for presenting and suggesting changes to handle an organization's budget or financial problem. A financial proposal is written by a critical player in the company who is aware of the business's funding and the company's monetary needs.

Web Design Proposal 

A web design proposal is an agreement between prospective clients and a web designer. It clarifies the client's requirements, the product or service that the web designer will provide, and the expense of this service.

Engineering Services Proposal 

Engineering proposals are the industry standard document for engineering consultant selection decisions. For engineering consulting firms, they are the primary method of securing new work. For the owners, they are indispensable as a means to differentiate between consultants.

Freelance Writing Proposal 

A freelancer proposal is a document that describes how your services deliver a targeted solution to a specific problem the prospect is facing. For freelance writers, that typically involves content writing or copywriting to help increase traffic and sales.

Sales Proposal 

A sales proposal is a document a business or a person uses to launch their products or services to potential customers and clients. You also hear them referred to as business proposals, project proposals, or executive summaries.

Project Management Proposal 

A project proposal summarizes everything stakeholders know about a project, including the timeline, budget, objectives, and goals. Your proposal needs to summarize your project details and sell your idea, so stakeholders buy into the initiative.

Grant Proposals

Organizations are required to submit a research proposal to get grant funding. In this type of research project, the association, typically a nonprofit, will outline its mission, the crisis they are solving, and how they intend to use the grant. A grant proposal is mostly for funding a particular project. 

Investor Proposals

Investor proposals are business plans and formal proposals that companies use to acquire investment. This can include small businesses applying for a business loan from a bank or startups applying for funding. 

In investor proposals, proposals need to include the challenge they are solving, why they are the best fit to do so, and the potential benefits for the investor. It is also good practice to include growth goals, and projected income targets.

Internal Project Proposals

Many organizations direct employees to present a project proposal for new projects. This differs from the proposals outlined above because this type of proposal happens internally. The same ideas still apply, however. For internal project proposals, you must outline the challenge, the solution, and why you are qualified to lead the project. 

You will need to highlight the benefits of this project clearly. For example, benefits can include increased revenue, better profit margins, streamlined operations, increased customer satisfaction, improved employee satisfaction, etc. 

What are the Benefits of Proposal Writing?

Here are some benefits you get from proposal writing:

Better Project Planning

Frequently, we see a dire need in our community and want to solve it immediately. However, social issues are complex, and badly planned projects can do more harm than good. Putting together a proposal makes you think holistically from an outsider's perspective and explain the project. The proposal-writing process can be slow, but it tries to ensure every project stage is planned out and every potential variable is accounted for. This improves the quality of projects drastically.

Building Consensus

Even if your team is united under one single goal, there are still various opinions as to how to achieve it. Even straightforward projects are composed of many shifting parts, so it is required to write down all the details to ensure your team is on the same page. Misunderstandings can occur easily, with only murky plans sprinkled in individual plans or email threads. Writing a proposal makes sure that all project details are documented clearly in one place, making it easy to discuss with your team.

More Research

Every proposal requires some research. So, research on the topic at hand, the solution, the beneficiaries, similar older projects, funding parties, etc. Inevitably, some of this information discovered will be helpful for the proposal, personal growth, or project.

Improved Marketing

Think of every proposal you keep sending as both an advertisement and an application. Including some straightforward marketing strategies in your proposals can enhance your long-term prospects and recognition. Even if your proposal is not chosen for funding, a well-written proposal will catch the donor's eye. This can open the door to potential future funding and further engagement. Moreover, a poorly-written proposal will seem like spam ads to contributors.

Get Everything in Writing

The proposal becomes the basis for a contract between the donor and the implementing organization. The proposal acts as a promise for what the NGO will complete with the requested resources. Thus, just like in contracts, all the details need to be written down. A well-written proposal provides the foundational information for better communication between donors and NGOs. In particular cases, a good proposal can be the key in the rare case of a legal challenge.

Clarification of Vision

Proposals contain both a purpose statement and a mission statement. The purpose statement describes why you have stated the business plan, such as acquiring funding or functioning as a guide for business operations. The mission statement elaborates what you want your organization to achieve. The other parts of your business plan reinforce these two statements. Hence, when you compose a business plan, you clarify the direction you want to take with the enterprise. If you are not sure what you want from the business, you are likely not ready to pursue the business venture.

Evidence

A plan shows what you want to achieve with your organization and how you want to accomplish it. This transparency of vision operates as evidence to others that you have considered the venture critically. When investors and other parties see this, they understand the risk better they would take by working with you. Henceforth, they are more likely to approve the demands you make using the proposal. Later on, the business proposal can serve as an original intent and keep you on track.

Road Map

A proposal provides a detailed explanation of your goals, how you will conduct business, and what expenses and profit you can expect; it is a road map for your company that, in theory, anyone will be able to follow if the proposal is reported well. Other workers can look at the business proposal and figure out whether they are staying honest with the intent, even if you are not physically supervising operations on the company site on a daily basis.

Risk Address

A portion of your proposal looks at the risks your company faces. For example, companies can get sued, and employees who are sick for extended periods can adversely influence service and production. Competitors also pose problems or risks. A well-written proposal shows the reader how you will handle these risks, such as purchasing various forms of insurance, having an attorney on retainer, and assessing contenders' positions in the market. When you handle these risks, you have a more realistic picture of what it takes to run the business and are likely to be able to recuperate if something fails.

Essential Features of Proposal Writing

The following is a list of features you should follow when writing a proposal:

Summary

  • The abstract is the most integral element of the proposal. Spend time developing the best possible title. If the length is not ordered, it must not be any longer than one-half to the one-page maximum. 
  • Use highlighted and bold subheadings. Include highlights in the subject sentence in each part of the proposal. 
  • How will it be done, by whom, what, and over what period of time? What is the problem/need? Who will the outcomes benefit? 

Needs Statement

  • What is the pressing problem that you are addressing, and why should anyone care about it?
  • Why is what you propose necessary? What is the void in knowledge? 
  • Why has this issue not been addressed properly in the past? Who else is laboring in this field, what have they accomplished, and why is that not enough? Indicate your knowledge of the field.
  • Who is benefitting from this? Indicate the public good.
  • Provide compelling evidence that what you are suggesting does not duplicate other work. Replicating someone else's work in a new or larger environment cannot be fundable.

Project Activity and Outcomes

  • Present a timeline of all activities. Graphs, tables, and charts work well here. They consolidate data, break up the monotony of pages, and convey detailed information well in a limited space.
  • Why did you choose to address the topic in the way that you have? Are there other methodologies or approaches? If so, why are they not appropriate to the situation?
  • What are the specific activities involved? Who will do them? 
  • What specific outcomes will be achieved? What will change? 
  • Why are you/your organization the best to do what you propose? Is it an extension of innovative, successful work or a pilot project you completed?

Evaluation

  • An essential piece needs to be both quantitative and qualitative, if feasible. 
  • Outline clearly the methodology you will use to assess the project's success.

Budget and Continuation Funding

  • Show your budget in a table form and use a budget narrative to explain each item.
  • Include any other references of funding if the funder directs its inclusion. 
  • Indicate how the project will be sustainable or be funded after the grant reserves have run out.

Conclusion

Proposal writing is a valuable asset for any corporation or workplace. Writing a proposal helps in making important decisions on things like marketing, cash flow, and personnel. Having clear and defined goals and objectives enables you to monitor the business's performance and make adjustments as you move forward.

FAQs

What is the difference between proposal and report writing?

The key difference between a report and a proposal is that a report is a short, concise, and detailed document with a specific purpose to be presented to an audience. In contrast, a proposal is a plan or an idea, especially in written form, to be suggested for the consideration of others.

A proposal must be easy to read and influential. At the same time, the language in a proposal must be easy to understand. The mission of a proposal can be different from one another. There are various types of proposals, such as business proposals, funding proposals, academic proposals, and marketing proposals.

One important thing that one needs to pay attention to in writing proposals is that the writer must focus on the reader or the audience of the proposal thoroughly. The writer of the proposal must understand the wants and needs of the readers.

What is the difference between proposal and technical writing?

A technical writer will produce a clear, detailed explanation of what needs to be known. A proposal writer will deliver a rationale established on the topic matter, written from the client's perspective, that makes it apparent why their offering is the finest alternative.

Where a technical writer explains what needs to be known in terms the reader can understand, a proposal writer communicates how the elements relate to the evaluation procedure and bid strategies and then expresses what the consumer needs to hear to be persuaded.

Successful proposal writing requires information and insight into the customer's perspective and how they will make their decision. Winning proposal writing also requires insight into the best pursuit strategy.

What is the difference between proposal writing and a case study?

A proposal writing is a shorter, less detailed document presenting a project's idea and requests funding or approval from a higher-up. On the other hand, a case study is a more detailed document that outlines an investigation into a particular problem or situation. It includes information about the problem, the research process, findings, and conclusions.

What should I avoid in proposal writing?

There are two things proposal writers need to avoid in a proposal document, technical jargon and large blocks of content.

It is important to write proposals that speak the language of your audience, and many times, proposals are evaluated by a diverse audience. Including technical jargon in your proposal can make it difficult for some evaluators to understand your offering. If you include technical language that isn't common knowledge, provide a brief explanation and why it matters. 

One of the most difficult things to do when trying to win a big contract is to cut out information. It is natural to want to include every last detail so they have no questions. When you do this, however, it is very easy for your audience to miss your key points. To avoid any confusion, make use of headings, callouts, graphics, and a clean format so it is easy to evaluate proposals and understand why they must choose you.