Proposal Writing Tips

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The following tips are provided by proposal evaluators and others familiar with proposal development and review.
  • Be realistic; what can reasonably be accomplished in the scope (time and resources) of this requirement?
  • Be factual and specific; don't talk in generalities or in emotional terms. Be able to substantiate all statements in your proposal, otherwise don't make them.
  • Use language anyone will understand; limit abbreviations, initials, or jargon. Don't assume the reader will understand your acronyms or abbreviations.
  • Find out what other proposals are being submitted.
  • Read the Requirements carefully! Make your proposal fits the Technical, Schedule and Cost requirements. 
  • Go over the checklist (twice!) and make sure each item is addressed.
  • Choose a format that's clear and easy to read. Evaluators are overloaded with proposals and appreciate legible, attractive proposals. Make sure tables are legible and easy to figure out.
  • Stick to the specified number of pages. Extra pages or attachments may either be removed before the proposal is read, or may disqualify your entire proposal from the reading process.
  • Make sure you include the requested number of copies of your proposal.
  • Make sure the cover page is complete, with all the information as requested.
  • Do it yourself; teach your own staff about proposal writing. But if you hire a development person or a consultant, stay on top of it; proposals exclusively written by development people usually don't make sense because that person isn't familiar with the project.
  • Give details about who will do what. Think of all the details, such as ordering materials, cataloging and managing them, arranging for staff development, etc. Make sure someone is assigned to manage each step of the project.
  • Be clear about the type and amount of staff development required, and the amount of time necessary for staff to feel confident about implementing the project. Be realistic!
  • Plan ahead; allow plenty of time for those involved to meet, discuss, review progress in the proposal writing process. Allow time after completion of the proposal to get the required signatures and get the proposal to the requestor.
  • Call if you have questions, but realize that many others will be calling as well. Don't wait until the last minute.  When you call, be organized; be clear on what you need to know and how to ask for it.
  • Read the requirements and instructions

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Last modified: March 11, 2006