Introduction to a Simple Proposal Format Checklist:

Proposal writing is a form of persuasive writing. It’s about telling stories. It’s exhilarating, imaginative work and a chance to make a huge difference to your organization, your community, yourself and even the big wide world.

You have the opportunity to turn your ideas into something real with your proposal.

Research and planning is a big part of the simple proposal format. Final decisions about which proposals are funded often come down to whether the proposal convinces the reviewer that the project/activity/program 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

The simple proposal format 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 'Simple proposal format' checklist 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 Writing 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 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. 

Create a proposal skeleton

Study the RFP guidelines to make sure the structure of your proposal document is in-line with what the funder/sponsor is expecting.

As a guide, make sure your proposal document contains the following sections: 

  • Introduction
  • Aims & objectives
  • Methodology 
  • Relevant experience 
  • Budget
  • The team 
  • Expected outcomes 
  • Conclusion 

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?

Proposal Writing Tasks:

Write the 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. 

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 aims and objectives

In your proposal document, in the aims and objectives section, define what will occur as a result of your project/program/ activity in terms of aims & objectives.

Make sure your aims & objectives answer the following questions

  • 1
    What are the aims of your project/activity/program?
  • 2
    What are the objectives of your project/activity/program?

Write the methodology

Within the methodology section, walk the reader through exactly HOW you will achieve your aims & objectives. 

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

  • 1
    Research what others have done
  • 2
    Look at the failures as closely as the successes
  • 3
    Look at the press and from professional journals
  • 4
    Search the Internet and contact professional associations

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.

Confirm the budget

Provide a breakdown of all direct and indirect costs involved.

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 

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. 

Define expected outcomes

In the expected outcomes section in your proposal, describe what you would expect to happen if your proposal was accepted. 

Write your conclusion

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

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

Pre-Submission Tasks:

Check the proposal meets the requirements

Read through the proposal and check that what you have written meets the guidelines/requirements that have been given to you for this proposal. 


Perform pre-submission checks

Read through the proposal again and make sure you can answer 'yes' to the following questions

  • 1
    Have you provided context to the project?
  • 2
    Have you developed a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed project?
  • 3
    Is there a clear sense of direction?
  • 4
    Is the length right?
  • 5
    Have you followed all the requirements?
  • 6
    Have you used simple language and avoided all jargon?

Get a fresh pair of eyes to proof read it

Give your proposal 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 feedback

Record the feedback you have received for future proposals.

Update your current proposal document and re-upload it so that it can be approved internally before it is submitted.

Internal approval:

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Implement feedback
    Will be submitted

Submit proposal

Submit your proposal in-line with any requirements. 



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