How to Write a Project Proposal: 8 Expert Tips and Guidelines

How to Write a Project Proposal: 8 Expert Tips and Guidelines

They say you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression, which couldn’t be more true when writing a project proposal.

Project stakeholders don’t see who you are at the outset; they only see what you present in the Proposal. So, your goal is to make them see what you want them to see – a well-thought-out project with all details considered that’s worth investing time and money in.

Let’s guess the thought running through your mind right now: How to write a project proposal that enchants stakeholders?


You just need to use project proposal presentation templates that are designed by experts in the field. 

With a well-crafted one-page project proposal template, you can make the entire process easier for you and your team.

The stunning design is ready, all the project proposal rules are kept, and you are just tasked with filling in the necessary information to have your dream proposal ready in no time.

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What Is a Project Proposal? Key Concepts Defined

A project proposal is a formal, written document to provide the audience with detailed information about a project. It should outline the purpose of the project, its goals, deliverables, budget, and timeline for delivery. In other words, the project proposal outline should include every detail that may interest stakeholders.

The project proposal presentation’s goals can differ based on the scope and scale of the project. It might be a marketing proposal to launch a new product line or an internal business plan to streamline processes. Regardless of what it is, a project proposal should be clear, concise and deliver the necessary information to help make well-informed decisions.

The most common intents of a writing project proposal include the following.

  • Get external funding to sponsor the project
  • Gain approval from higher management to get the resources and support needed
  • Interest potential investors and stakeholders in the project
  • Generally, create enthusiasm around the project

No matter the purpose, some common approaches and rules apply to every project proposal to ensure it is well-crafted and effective. Let’s see the main types of proposals.


Solicited Project Proposal

The most formal project proposal example is sent in response to the client’s formal Request for Proposal (RFP). Usually, it’s when project owners are interested in specific services or products from certain parties and want to see what potential suppliers offer.

If you construct a solicited project proposal, be prepared to compete with other bidders. In this case, your project proposal outline should be very attractive, ready to stand out and make an impact. You should think about how to make your Proposal unique to get the edge you need of the competition, as there will be a detailed comparison of proposals.


Unsolicited Project Proposal

In the case of unsolicited project proposals, there is no formal request from a project owner. For example, you can decide to participate in the open bid for a certain project and send in your project proposal even without a specific request. 

Compared to the previous project proposal example, this one is less competitive as there is no direct comparison of bidders.

However, you still need to ensure your Proposal is attractive and visually pleasing as you again want to make a great impression and receive the client’s approval. Unsolicited project proposals also have “softer rules” regarding outline and format, as you don’t have to consider strict requirements from the client.


Informal Project Proposal

Often, your client can refer you with an informal request to send him a project proposal. This can refer to cases when you negotiate with a potential customer, and they get interested in more details about the offer you can provide.

In this case, you can craft a less formal project proposal, which can even be presented as a short presentation or a one-pager document organized in free form. Here, your main goal is to be informative and detailed enough so that you are on the same page about all the project details and responsibilities.


Renewal Project Proposal

Let’s say one project was already completed, and the client is coming back for more with a request to renew your project, or you want to refer to an old and kind partner with a special offer to return and collaborate.

In this case, you should create a Renewal Project Proposal, ideally showing what was improved since the last time, what new ideas you have to offer, and why your project is still relevant for this particular client. 

Renewal project proposals are usually based on the previous project proposal outline with the client to keep some consistency and make parties comfortable with each other.


Online business project proposal templates


Continuation Project Proposal

Probably, this can be called one of the “easiest” project proposals as there is almost no competition here, and the client already knows you well. Moreover, there is no need to convince someone to start a new collaboration, as you already have an established partnership, and you prolong it.

Continuation project proposals are used when one phase of the project approaches the end, and you are asked to make a new proposal for an additional period. In this case, you must adapt the old project proposal outline and add new deliverables.


Supplemental Project Proposal

Even if your previous project proposal outline was already approved and the needed stakeholders got into the collaboration, you can still find yourself in a situation where you need to add something new.

For example, you can feel the need to write a project proposal asking for additional investment or more stakeholder engagement based on the new requirements. In this case, you should write a supplemental project proposal explaining why additional resources are needed and what improvements they can bring. 

The main idea here is to show the client that your Proposal is still relevant and you need extra help and support to achieve a better project result.


8 Must-Know Steps on How to Write a Project Proposal

Writing project proposals now is a simple task thanks to the abundance of ready-made templates, formats, and samples on the web. You no longer need to reinvent the wheel and waste time crafting a professional design, thinking about the text layout, etc.

Renderforest – an all-in-one design platform that provides you with project proposal templates for any industry. No matter what you need, which business field you are working in, and which terms and conditions you must consider, Renderforest got your back!

Table of contents template Project introduction template Client testimonials template

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But before you pick the right template, you should know some crucial principles of writing a project proposal. Here is the complete list of steps you should follow to write a project proposal that will bring results.


1. Preparing for the Writing

Proper research is the unsung hero of any successful proposal. It may be one of the invisible parts of the process, but it is one of the most important. Just as you need to lay a proper foundation for the building before you start constructing it, you need to create solid research about the project before starting to write a proposal. Otherwise, no matter how many attributes you add to the weak base in the future, it won’t bring any success.

So, give yourself enough time to research the project in every aspect. Don’t stop until you’re 100% sure you clearly understand what is needed.

Further, determine who the project benefactors are and what’s the best way to show the value of your project to them.

If these steps are successfully completed, project goals and objectives will be set, and you’ll better understand what the project should look like in the end.

So, give your mind the needed time for research and move to the actual writing process when the skeleton is ready.


2. Crafting a Compelling Executive Summary

Now coming to an arduous task – conveying project meaning, depth, and nuance in a short executive summary. When you do extensive research, and your brain is full of hundreds of project details, it takes work to summarize all this information in a few sentences.

Nevertheless, the executive summary is a standard and a crucial component of a project proposal outline, so you must master the art of writing it.

The executive summary is a concise but informative synopsis of the project. It usually contains the following sections.

  • The problem you try to solve
  • The resources you need to solve it
  • The methodology you use to address the issue
  • The expected outcome of your project and how you’ll measure its success, etc.

Many responsibilities lie on your shoulders in this section, as that’s the first part readers will see when opening the project proposal. So it’s tasked to hook project owners and promise them something extraordinary that will get them interested in further document exploration.

You can even consider writing the executive summary at the end after all your project proposal is completed. This way, you can see the whole picture and summarize the whole idea in one paragraph more accurately. 


 3. Describing the Project Scope

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, you should start revealing more details about the project. Start with the project background, which is a detailed explanation of the reason behind the project, the current state of the problem for which this project is intended to solve, etc.

For example, if you’re intended to run a social awareness campaign about the importance of clean water, you should mention what kind of problem it is and why awareness is important to solve the issue. You can also include statistics about the current state of water scarcity or quality in the area your project will target.

Aside from covering the current state of the problem, the project scope should include the following.

  • Who contributed to the problem before, and what are the achievements of the previous projects?
  • Why weren’t the previous attempts successful?
  • What are the gaps that you’re going to fill with your project?
  • What are the methods you are going to use that will be more effective than the previous ones?

You should also include a detailed description of the tools and methods you will use to complete the project. Here, an established work breakdown structure (WBS) can help significantly.


Online business project proposal templates


 4. Outlining the Project Objectives 

Well, when writing a project proposal up to this point, you have already talked enough about the project and why it matters.

But, there should be a detailed section for project objectives – not an abstract overview of what you want to achieve, but the exact points you need to reach.

In this regard, the widely popular SMART methodology is quite handy. It’s the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound objectives. Let’s spread the light on each of these points.

  • Specific objectives mean you don’t write something like “improve the quality of life.” Instead, your objectives should be concrete, like “reduce water contamination by 15% in 6 months in the mentioned area”. See the difference? The second option is crystal clear.
  • Measurable goals indicate you need to be able to track progress with clear indicators. If you write clear goals like in the example above, it automatically becomes trackable and measurable. Additionally, you should have clear metrics that will help stakeholders track if the project is on the right track or not – do you do what you said or not?
  • What do we mean by attainable goals? Simple. Goals should be realistic, achievable, and reflect the amount of resources available for the project. Realistic objectives mean no pie-in-the-sky goals. So, instead of reducing water contamination by 50% in 6 months, choose a more realistic one to evoke trust and confidence in your project.
  • Relevant objectives are those that are directly related to the project goals. Sometimes it may be easy to get off track and start chasing goals that are not related to the project directly.
  • Finally, time-bound objectives have strict deadlines, so project stakeholders, especially investors, feel confident that you are working hard on the project and have a clear timeline for launching.


5. Presenting a Solution

So many talks about why the project is important and which issue can’t stay unsolved. So, what should be your next move when writing a project proposal? Yes, solutions; actually, what’s your main project promise about?

The solutions section may be shorter than the previous ones, but it should be impressive and honest. Going back to the stage of project research, you should have a clear idea of what steps you need to take in order to come up with the desired result. If there is no clear plan you feel can lead to success, think again about whether you should launch the project.

But as you’re here, it’s most probably because you are equipped with the right methods and knowledge to do the job. So, what should be included in this section?

  • A vision statement is the map that will guide you through the project. It summarizes where your team is heading, why and how. A clear vision statement is equally important for external and internal stakeholders, so ensure that it’s written in the right way (see how it works).
  • The project schedule shows the order of tasks that should be completed and the timeframe for their completion. Here it’s important to have all your milestones listed. Otherwise, there is a risk of losing the right clue and, as a result, falling behind the project timeline (see how it works).
  • The roles and responsibilities of team members show clear assignments for each person involved. Besides, it’s clear who’s responsible for what, so everyone knows what to expect, when and how.
  • Other details bring more clarity and make the implementation of the project easier. This can be the list of reporting tools you’re going to use or the list of materials and equipment needed to complete the project.


 6. Conducting a Thorough Needs Assessment 

Gradually approaching the main goal of your Proposal – you need to engage the necessary resources from stakeholders, and of course, you need to explain why they should do so.

Conducting a thorough needs assessment is essential to identify the resources necessary for the project and why they are needed. First of all, it’s crucial for you to ensure you can complete the promised activities. Further, it’s crucial to include it in your project proposal outline, so chances of getting funding are higher.

When writing about needs assessment, you should include the following:

  • Project Budget is a comprehensive list of all the expenses related to the project. It should include small and big purchases, salaries for staff members, taxes, prices for the materials you will use, cost of travel if you’ll need to attend any meetings or conferences, etc. See a project budget example here.
  • A breakdown of the costs may seem the same as the project budget, but it’s a more detailed version of the budget. Here, you should include the reasons and detailed explanations of why each resource is needed, where you’re going to get it, and how much it will cost. That’s important as investors need to know that their money is spent in the right way.
  • Finally, a resource allocation plan shows how different resources should be organized to complete the project effectively. In simpler terms, it’s a plan that shows how you will use the resources that stakeholders provide for your project. Here’s a detailed explanation of how resource allocation works.


7. Addressing Risk Management 

Foreseeing the unforeseen is the special mission of every project manager. When writing a project proposal, you should ensure you have a reliable contingency plan ready to be used in case of any disruption. 

This plan should be included in your project proposal outline. Otherwise, your plan will not look reliable enough for investors, and they won’t be convinced that you can handle any disruption in a timely manner.

You should carefully brainstorm all the key risks that can happen during the project, as there are no standard templates for risk accounting. To identify the risks, you should take into consideration all the possible factors that can influence or derail your project completion.

Further, you should prioritize those that are more likely to happen and those which are real to prevent and mitigate. You should also show in the project proposal that you have a plan for responding to each possible risk.


8. Writing an Effective Conclusion

Well, it’s almost time to congratulate you on a job well done! One last piece is left – the project conclusion, which should be compelling enough to motivate the reader to act.

The conclusion should restate your main points and capture what makes your project unique. It can also be used to include some graphs, reports, charts, or any other kind of data that supports your claims but was left out from the main body of your project proposal.

These are all the steps you need to take to create a winning project proposal outline. Now that you know the inside out of writing a project proposal outline, it’s time to explore some ready outlines which you can easily customize and use for your project.


Simple Project Proposal Examples to Edit Now

Every project proposal you need is stored in Renderforest’s project proposals library. Creating a professional-looking project proposal with these ready-to-use templates is very easy. Here’re some you can try now!


Business Proposal Template

Looking for a professional and modern business proposal template? Look no further! Our Business Proposal Template features the design and layout applicable for formal presentations where the emphasis should be placed on content rather than design.

Project proposal content table example Project proposal template client What we do proposal template

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Project Proposal Template

Moving to a more universal and casual project proposal template that can be a great fit for any project. It has detailed scenes describing the background of your project, the goals and objectives you set for it, and the timeline and resources you need to complete it.

Project portfolio template Current problems project template Project budget template

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Marketing Proposal Template

Colorful, dynamic, detailed – everything you imagine a modern marketing proposal should be is wrapped in this template. Its striking design will capture the attention of your potential audience, while its content will surely convince them to consider investing in your project.

Contact us template Terms and conditions Possible solutions template

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Project Proposal Outline FAQs

Project Proposal vs. Project Charter

A project charter is an official document that marks the beginning of a project which can be created only after the project proposal is created and approved. So, if the project proposal is a persuasive document that is meant to get approval for your project, then a project charter is an official document that contains the details of the resources and timeline needed for completing your project. 

They are different in purpose and the time when they are created. Nonetheless, both are must-have documents for successful project management, and both contain crucial details about project objectives and other details. 


What Are the 6 Types of Project Proposals?

  1. Solicited Proposal is created in response to an official request from a potential customer or client. It’s the most competitive type of Proposal. 
  2. An unsolicited Proposal is sent to a potential customer or client without their request and can be used to introduce yourself and your project. For example, you can use unsolicited project proposals to apply for a public grant.
  3. An informal Proposal is a proposal exchange between two parties that does not have an official structure. It’s just for internal use and does not follow any specific format or guidelines.
  4. A renewal Proposal is created to renew cooperation with a party with which you already had an agreement before, and now you want to restart it with a bit of adjustment.
  5. A continuation Proposal is a proposal for continuing an ongoing project. It’s usually created when the project’s initially agreed timeframe is about to end, but more work must be done.
  6. A supplemental Proposal is created when a customer or client requests additional services or goods for an ongoing project and needs to justify the new expenses.


How Long Should a Project Proposal Be?

It’s not the word length that matters, but how detailed and convincing your project proposal is. You’re not limited to having a long project proposal if you keep it structured and concise. 

Renderforest’s project proposal templates are constructed according to the key principles of project proposals and optimally cover all the important information in a few pages. You can use them as a starting point to craft your own project proposal quickly and easily.


Key Takeaways

Project proposals are the formal way to show project owners you’re the perfect team for the job. It’s a detailed and well-structured document with project objectives, timelines, and resources needed for successful completion.

Though designing a professional-looking project proposal is an easy task with ready-to-use templates, the content that goes inside is what really counts. You need to be precise and persuasive, consider every detail, and account for all possible issues when writing a project proposal outline.

Remember, its goal is not just winning the project but also laying down the framework to guide you through completing it.

Good luck in the ocean of project proposals!

Online business project proposal templates

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