Introduction to the Proposal Template Checklist Process:

Writing a successful proposal is competitive, tough and a long process that can seem overwhelming at first. You need strong processes in place to make sure you have gathered all the required information, adhered to all set guidelines and was writing clear, concise and persuasive proposals.

"With so much information to compile and so much riding on success, it's important to stack the odds in your favor" - Charity Love to Know 

Research and planning is a big part of this proposal template. Final decisions about which proposals are funded often come down to whether the proposal convinces the reviewer that the project is well planned and feasible and whether the investigators are well qualified to execute it. 

"How well you plan is critical to the success of the project"- Learn Sphere

Your proposal needs to be divided into predictable sections that provide answers to these questions:

  • What’s the purpose or goal of your project? 
  • What is the need you’re addressing, or the problem you’re solving?
  • What are the expected outcomes of your project, and how will you achieve them?
  • How will you assess or verify the success of your project?
  • Why is your project important?
  • How much will it cost?

This is proposal template is a checklist that should be used alongside the proposal document you are planning to submit. Use it to make sure that all elements have been considered, that the proposal contains everything it needs to, and that it meets all set requirements. 

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Complete checklist details

Complete the checklist details in the fields below. 

Enter proposal reviewer details

Enter details about the person/company who will be reviewing your proposal in the fields below. 

Pre-Proposal Tasks:

Study the criteria

Upload the request for proposal guidelines in the field below and study them carefully.

They may specify evaluation criteria and allocate a certain number of points to specific sections or components. 

Missing or incomplete items often result in outright rejection or at least a lower score, which will limit your chances of success. 

If there are many new requirements, in addition to those included in this checklist, consider updating this checklist with each requirement as a new task.

Read this to find out how. 

Define the problem/need

Think about the purpose of your proposal.

Answer the following questions to get your thoughts together so you can begin writing your proposal with some clear direction. 

Research the proposal reviewer

The more you know about the person who will be reviewing your proposal, the better you can tailor your proposal to meet their requirements.

Look at the following sources of information to find out more about your funder:

  • 1
    their website
  • 2
    LinkedIn profiles
  • 3
    annual reports
  • 4
    success stories of previous grants
  • 5
    staff biographies

Answer the following questions to make sure you know your proposal reviewer inside out: 

Conduct a GAP analysis

Conduct a GAP analysis to assess the current situation as it is, and the desired situation if your proposal was to be accepted.

Conduct a SWOT analysis

Identify the strengths and opportunities that will exist if your proposal is accepted. 

Identify the potential weaknesses and threats that may exist if your proposal is rejected. 

Plan your proposal

Proposals are often organized into distinct sections. These sections can have different titles depending on the guidelines specified by the organization, but they frequently serve the same purposes.

Review the guidelines to see if they have specified a structure to follow.

If they have asked you to follow a specific structure, make sure you have a plan for each section they have requested.

If they haven’t specified a structure, list out what you might include in the following sections:

Choose a title

Your proposal title needs to be catchy, descriptive, informative and pre-dispose the reader favorably towards the proposal.

Run each title option through the below criteria and choose the final title by selecting the title which best meets the criteria. 

  • 1
    Is it concise?
  • 2
    Is it descriptive?
  • 3
    Is it informative?
  • 4
    Is it catchy?
  • 5
    Does it predispose the reader, favorably, towards the proposal?

Add this to your proposal document cover sheet 

Writing the Proposal:

Write your introduction

The introduction section in your proposal document should cover the key elements of your proposal and contain a clear, concise description of the problem or situation. 

This is what you planned to include in your introduction: {{form.Introduction}}

Make sure your introduction includes the following: 

  • 1
    a statement of the problem/need for your project/program/activity
  • 2
    the purpose of project/program/activity
  • 3
    project/program/activity goals or objectives
  • 4
    the significance of the project/program/activity

Write your need/problem statement

Develop a clear, concise description of the problem or situation in the need/problem statement section of your proposal document.

For example, you could describe the problem's impact, both in social and economic costs. You could show how your proposal could change the way people live.

You must convince the proposal reviewer that what you propose to do is essential and that your organization is the right one to do it

Use the SWOT and GAP analysis to explain why your proposal is important. 

GAP analysis findings: {{form.Summarize_your_GAP_analysis_findings_here:}}

Strengths & opportunities: {{form.Strengths_&_opportunities}}

Weaknesses & threat: {{form.Weaknesses_&_threats}}

This is what you planned to include in this section: {{form.Problem_Statement}}

Answer these questions to help pinpoint your problem statement: 

  • 1
    How it is responding to a gap in resources, knowledge, or opportunity that needs to be filled?
  • 2
    How will the project/action/program make a wider, positive impact?

Confirm your goals & outcomes

In the goals and outcomes section of your proposal document, define what will occur as a result of your project/program/activity- in terms of goals and outcomes.

This is what you planned to include in this section {{form.Goals_&_outcomes}}

Proposal goals and outcomes should be SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

Answer these questions to help shape your goals and outcomes:

Check your goals & outcomes

Answer the following questions to check that the goals & outcomes you have included in your proposal are clear: 

These are your identified goals and outcomes: 



  • 1
    Are there one or more goals that reflect the need for the project and clearly show its purpose and direction?
  • 2
    Are there at least one goal and outcome for each need or problem in the problem statement?
  • 3
    Are the goals and outcomes realistic and appropriate?
  • 4
    Are the goals and outcomes stated in terms of outcomes and not in terms of methods or activities?
  • 5
    Do the goals and outcomes describe the population that will benefit?
  • 6
    Do the goals and outcomes state the time by which they will be accomplished?
  • 7
    Do the goals and outcomes describe the outcomes of the project in measurable terms?

Write your methodology

In the methodology section of your proposal, walk the funder through exactly HOW you will achieve the goals and outcomes.

Give a clear description of how you plan to achieve your desired outcomes, with a timeline and a detailed work plan if possible.

This is what you planned to include in your methodology: {{form.Methodology}}

Complete the following sub-tasks to make sure you have included everything and covered every angle: 

  • 1
    Research what others have done - no need to reinvent the wheel.
  • 2
    Look at the failures as closely as the successes. Knowing what does not work is often more valuable than knowing what does.
  • 3
    Look at the press and from professional journals
  • 4
    Search the Internet and contact professional associations

Check your methodology

Read through your methodology and answer the following questions to make sure you have a sound methodology: 

  • 1
    Have you established how you are going to achieve those outcomes?
  • 2
    Have you established what methods you will use?
  • 3
    Have you established how you will measure or recognize your project’s achievements?
  • 4
    Have you explained how you can be sure that your project will productively respond to the need or problem you have identified?
  • 5
    Have you given a timeline for your project?

Establish expected results

Use the expected results section in your proposal to let the reader know what impact your proposal is likely to have if it was to be accepted. 

This is what you planned to include in this section: {{form.Expected_results}}

Answer these questions to determine how you will evaluate the success and include them in your proposal:

Confirm the budget

Provide a breakdown of all direct and indirect costs involved in the budget section of your proposal.

Include costs that directly relate to the benefit being created, including production, marketing or distribution costs. 

Include indirect costs that are not directly identified with the project benefits, including facilities use, utilities, support staff, insurance, and legal /accounting expenses. 

This is what you planned to include in this section: {{form.Budget}}

Establish relevant experience

In the relevant experience section, include information about your past experience with similar projects/activities/programs, talk about your successes and list any awards.  

Be sure to include client testimonials or short case studies.

Describe the team

Within the 'Meet the team' section of your proposal document, you are trying to make the proposal reviewer feel like they are getting to know you and your organization.

Include brief bios and a photo of each team member. 

Write your conclusion

Use the conclusion section to convince your proposal reviewer of the potential impact of your proposed project/activity/program.

This is what you planned to include in this section: {{form.Conclusion}}

Make sure your conclusion includes the following: 

  • 1
    limitations and weaknesses if you don't implement the project/activity/program
  • 2
    how these limitations/weaknesses might be overcome if your proposal was accepted

Write the abstract

The abstract should explain the key elements of your proposed activity/project/program in the future tense.

While it may be the first element of your finished proposal, it’s often best to write it last - as its simply an abbreviated version of your activity/project/program.

Write your abstract in your proposal document and then check it includes the following: 

  • 1
    the goal of your project
  • 2
    the problem you’re solving
  • 3
    the expected outcomes and how will you achieve them
  • 4
    how you will verify the success of your project
  • 5
    why your project is important
  • 6
    who you are

Pre-Submission Tasks:

Check the aesthetics

Read through your proposal and check for the following aesthetic/formatting errors: 

  • 1
    Is there a title page with all the necessary information describing this document?
  • 2
    Does the organization of the proposal enhance the content and make it easy to find/avoid types of information?
  • 3
    Are the margins consistent?
  • 4
    Is pagination accurate?
  • 5
    Did you use a consistent type-style?
  • 6
    Did you use sign-posting and color coding where appropriate?
  • 7
    Have you used visual aids such as charts, tables, diagrams where appropriate?

Check the structure

Read through your proposal and check it follows the EXACT structure stated in the guidelines.

If the guidelines do not specify a structure to follow, make check your proposal has the following sections at least: 

  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Problem Statement 
  • Objectives
  • Methodology
  • Expected results/Evaluation 
  • Budget
  • Relevant experience
  • Meet the team

Check the language

Read through your proposal again and answer the following questions to make sure your proposal is informative and interesting to read: 

  • 1
    Is the language uncluttered and concise?
  • 2
    Have you avoided using technical terms and jargon wherever possible?
  • 3
    Do you use objective language?
  • 4
    Have you avoided subjective terms?
  • 5
    Is the tone friendly but informative?
  • 6
    Is it written in a storytelling style?

Send your proposal to a "cold reader" to review

Upload your finished proposal document and send it to a "cold reader" to review. Give them a copy of the proposal guidelines/requirements, but little other information.

Ask them to read the proposal quickly (as this is how the proposal reviewer is likely to view your proposal) and ask them to answer the following two questions: 

  • Do they understand it?
  • Does it make sense?

Implement their feedback

Update your current proposal document and record the feedback you have received for future proposals.

Check the proposal against the RFP

Read the proposal through for the final time.

Double-check it is aligned with the RFP guidelines.

Answer these questions before uploading the final proposal document, ready for internal approval: 

  • 1
    Have you presented a compelling case?
  • 2
    Does your project seem feasible? Is it overly ambitious? Does it have other weaknesses?
  • 3
    Have you stated the means that reader can use to evaluate the success of your project after you’ve executed it?

Send for internal approval:

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Check the proposal against the RFP
    Will be submitted

Submit the proposal

Submit your proposal in-line with any requirements. 



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