Writing the Proposal


This phase systematically develops and writes the proposal components. Funders may request specific components in their Request for Proposal or Guideline. It is important to follow their instructions.
If there are not specific instructions, follow these components in order:

  1. Transmittal Letter
  2. The Proposal
    1. Title Page
    2. Abstract
    3. Table of Contents Introduction
    4. Statement of Need
    5. Goals and Objectives
    6. Methods
    7. Evaluation
    8. Dissemination and Utilization
    9. Facilities and Equipment
    10. Personnel and Organization Capability
    11. Budget
    12. Appendices

Transmittal Letter

This is on organization’s letterhead with an appropriate signature. It consists of a summary of problems or needs, goals and objectives and project methods, organizational capability and experience, how the project links with funder interests, name of contact person and funds requested (optional). This is no more than one page.

Write this letter when you have completed your proposal.

The Proposal

Title Page

Consists of title of the project, name of applicant submitting the proposal, beginning and ending dates, funds requested (optional), names - addresses - signatures of project director, and date of submission. This is one page in length.


This is a brief but extremely important overview of the project. It is written last. Usually it is not more than 200 to 300 words (one page in length) and describes the problem or need, purpose and goals, who will be served, methods, procedures, and program activities, who will conduct the project and where, time frame for the project, background and qualification of staff and organization, cost of the project, and benefits of the project.

This section is also written after you have completed the proposal

Table of Contents

Identifies the major sections and divisions of the proposal in outline form, including page numbers. This is the very last section to be drafted. It is written after you have completed all parts of the proposal. It may consist of more than one page, depending on the length of the proposal.


Places the proposed project within some context. Consists of statement of problem, how project addresses the problem, and tells the funder what lies ahead. This is approximately one-third of a page in duration.

Statement of Need

It provides evidence from many sources on nature of problem and the need to address it. Answers questions to who, what, when, where, why and how long of a problem. Includes any previous attempt to address the problem, what resources exist to address the problem, the organization’s involvement in the problem, and what are the consequences if the problem is not addressed. In a twenty page proposal, it may take two to three pages to adequately explain the need.

Goals & Objectives

Goals are broad statements of the anticipated outcome. Objectives are measurements or benchmarks of success in reaching the goal. Objectives should identify the target population, results, criteria for measuring, time frame, and expected outcomes. Words like "to increase, to reduce, to improve" will be used. This section is typically no longer than one page. Each objective must be consistent with the intent of the Request or Proposal (RFP) and include target population, results, criteria for measuring, time frame, and expected outcomes.


Answers questions about what activities and tasks will be conducted, how they will be carried out, when and by whom. This is best described in subsections titled introduction, program activities, cooperating organizations, staffing and administration, work plan/time table, and products/outcomes summary. This will be the longest section of the proposal.

  1. Introduction - This section may be optional depending upon length of this section and specific requirements of the proposal. The introduction summarizes the project’s overall approach for procedures and calls attention to those that are innovative or unusual. It is no more than one-quarter of a page in length.
  2. Program Activities - This section describes in detail specific activities of the project. A list format followed by a description is recommended. This section is normally no more than 1 to 3 pages in length.
  3. Cooperative Organizations - Describes any groups of organizations cooperating with or involved in this project. Include those organizations making cash/in-kind contributions.
  4. Staffing and Administration - Describes the plan for staffing and administering the project. It includes positions, responsibilities, and level of effort. It is usually one to two pages in length.
  5. Work Plan/Timetable - Summarizes project tasks, logically from beginning to end. Pert Charts, Gantt Charts, Activity Calendars, and Flow Charts are methods to accomplish this. This is normally one to three pages in length.
  6. Products and Outcomes - This sets forth the products of the project and the project’s long-term and short-term results. An example of a product might be a model for other projects.


Contains information about evaluation design to see if you have met your goals and objectives. It includes what is going to be evaluated, what and how data is collected, sources of information, instruments of procedures for collection, timeliness, who collects data, and plans for reporting results.

Dissemination & Utilization 

This section is included if funder shows an interest in having a broader impact on region or state. Some strategies may include presentations, media strategies, workshops and training manuals. This section is no more than one-half to one page

Facilities & Equipment 

Identifies facilities and equipment to be provided by the applicant and/or acquired through the project. This section will link to the budget request section. It is no more than one-half to one page long.

Personnel & Organizational Capability

This section names the key staff and describes their competencies, background, values, and qualifications. Resumes and vitaes are usually placed in the Appendix. A description of the organization, its experience, accomplishments and strengths, evidence of credibility along with relationship to this project in the past is included in this section. Annual reports, financial audits, and board membership roster are placed in the Appendix. This section is one to two pages long.


All project costs are grouped into categories including Personnel, Consultant/Contractual Services, Space and Utilities, Equipment, Materials and Supplies, Travel Expenses, Services and Other Costs. A Budget Justification, a narrative of your computations, and Plans for Future Funding are included as well. The Budget Justification and Budget can be combined into the same form. There should be no surprises in the budget as all items should have been discussed in the narrative. Read through the items listed in the categories below that need to be incorporated in project budget. The budget should be presented in the following order:

  1. Personnel - Salaried personnel, hourly personnel, salary increases. Special categories of people who may need to assist with the project, i.e, research assistants, interviewers, computer programmers, secretaries, clerk-typists, editorial assistants, technicians, accounting staff, grants compliance reporting staff, etc.
  2. Fringe Benefits - Staff benefits including FICA, Wyoming Retirement, Health, Dental and Life Insurance, vacation accrual.
  3. Travel - Automobile/aircraft/cab expense, subsistence - lodging and meals associated with administrative travel, field work, professional meetings and consultant travel.
  4. Equipment - Office equipment, vehicles equipment, moveable equipment, equipment rental, equipment installation.
  5. Supplies - Office supplies, postage, test materials, questionnaire forms, duplicating materials, books/journals, electronic supplies, and report materials and supplies.
  6. Contractual - Consultant, service contracts for evaluations, surveys, speaker fees, bookkeeping, cleaning, equipment maintenance, etc.
  7. Construction - Costs associated with a construction project related to new construction, alterations and renovations.


Included in this section are Letters of Support, Tables, Legal and Administrative documentation, etc.