Tips for proposal writing beginners

Namely, where do I begin?

If you are either new to your job or have had very little experience with writing proposals it can be hard to know where to begin. Our Proposal Writing for Beginners trainer shared some great tips from her upcoming course.

It is easy to feel at sea and worry that there is some mystery to the process of proposal writing when you are a complete beginner. However, through a set of principles and guidelines, and using the correct tools to apply these principles, you should rest assured that by the time you have written half a dozen proposals it will all be second-nature. Relax!  You don’t have to think of yourself as a ‘gifted’ creative writer in order to write good, strong proposals. Here are some things for you to think about:


Know the difference between proposal writing and other kinds of fundraising techniques

If you are a fundraiser you will probably be appealing to a variety of different funding sources and the first thing to do is get your head around the style of a charity proposal and set it apart from other fundraising you may be doing. For instance, formal proposals and applications are more like a business case than a quick appeal to the emotions and vary greatly from direct mail or collecting on the street.

Why you?

It is vital that you know how to express your charity’s work in a way that is crystal clear, it’s not just about using a lot of fancy adjectives and you don’t want to be making generalisations. Your aim should be to establish the unique niche that you occupy in the world of competing charities. It is all about establishing your credibility to do the work you want the prospective donor to support—why you? To answer this you must describe what you do in terms of change, impact and results. It is also important to be able to write budgets that show prospective donors how their support will be translated into concrete action.

Think about the donor

It is a necessity to see each proposal through the eyes of the specific prospective donor you are addressing: what is the trust, corporation or government grant-maker etc. looking for?  What are their motivation(s)?  What aspects of your work will be of greatest interest?  These judgments help to shape content, tone and format.

On the Proposal Writing for Beginners course we do some short writing exercises to illustrate some of these issues, and you have the opportunity to work throughout the day with partners or in small groups.  By the end, participants will feel confident and ready to tackle proposal writing.

Learn more about proposal writing on our upcoming Proposal Writing for Beginners course.