Birgit Kuester November 10, 2021 Proposal
The problem and the plan. The primary section of the proposal describes the problem or project as you see it. That bears repeating: State your understanding of the need and circumstances that prompted your submitting the proposal. Explain the rationale for action. That is, tell your audience what their problem is and why they need your expertise and assistance. Do not assume they know. Define the scope of the undertaking and the solutions and goals you intend to achieve, describing each in terms of discrete objectives.
More often than not, when you hand a group of people a printed proposal to follow as you make your presentation, someone is bound to turn immediately to the last page to check your cost estimate. Do not put it there. Because cost is only one element of any proposal-along with time, quality of work and materials, and benefits to be derived from the project-present it as such and put it into your plan where it most logically fits. If you choose to indicate individual item costs throughout the proposal, do not forget to include a recap page with complete tallies.
A word about organizing. Before actually starting to write any part of your proposal, think about what you want to put into it-and what you prefer to leave out. A logical, sequential construction becomes an outline that enables you to move through your oral presentation smoothly and thoroughly, developing both your narrative and your qualifications for the job as you go.
A proposal is nothing more than a tool that you use to get an assignment. It should not be a blueprint for doing the job. After all, you certainly do not want to give away everything you know in your proposal so that your potential client or supervisor can simply pick it up and hand it over to someone else to implement. There is often a fine line between telling what you plan to do and telling how you plan to do it. The most effective proposals march boldly up to that line...and stop.
Some proposal writers know their field forward, backward, and sideways but are unable to express themselves well in print. If that is your situation, ask for help in writing your proposal. It is always better to collaborate with a competent writer than to risk losing the assignment.
Depending on what you are proposing, the readers you want to target might be members of a grant committee, potential students, parents of students, teachers, school administrators, a loan committee, or a governmental organization. It is important to consider them carefully, and tailor your information to them. What do they want to know? What concerns might they have? Are there scheduling or budget restrictions? At the very least, this client-oriented section should have a Requirements page that summarizes what they have asked for, or what you believe they need. You may also want pages like Schedule, Deadlines, Limitations, Budget, Goals, Considerations, Special Needs, and so forth, to describe in detail your understanding of what the client needs. This is not yet the time to brag about your proposed program or your organization. Keep this section focused on information about what the client wants or needs.
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