Learning Resources

Proposal Writing Tips

Applications for the Challenge Award will require a proposal outlining your unit’s innovative project idea. To ensure that your unit submits your best proposal for this year’s NACCHO MRC Awards, keep in mind the key elements of a winning proposal:

  • Start with the funding announcement. Be sure to read the funding announcement in its entirety to understand what the funder is looking for and what they are not. By writing a proposal, you are looking to access funding you need to execute or sustain your mission and capabilities. The funder (in this case, NACCHO) is looking for a plan to focus on the issues they want addressed and the methods you have identified to achieve the desired outcomes. Keep the funder’s intentions in mind as you write and edit your proposal.
  • Activate your team to help you write the proposal. Think of whom in your housing organization, or an outstanding volunteer, can offer you good writing and editing skills, or who can outline your unit’s vision as you write the proposal. Once you begin to write and edit your proposal, refer to the funding announcement to ensure that your proposal still aligns with what is outlined in the funding announcement.
  • Pay attention to your writing style. When writing your proposal, keep your responses short and concise. Remember that the funder is looking for something that is easy to learn and use—don’t over complicate the proposal. Keeping it simple also respects your readers’ time. And remember to use plain language—could a tenth grader understand your proposal? Use short sentences (20-25 words) with only one idea per sentence. Chose active voice over passive voice, and dig out buried verbs to shorten your sentences (Change “Convened a Meeting” to “Met”). In writing your proposal, avoid jargon, clichés, or idioms. Jargon won’t often be understood by a broad audience, while idioms and clichés will lengthen your sentences.
  • Proofread your responses. There is nothing worse than submitting a proposal full of spelling and grammatical errors that can distract readers or misconstrew your project idea. Before your submit your application, be sure to proofread your responses. Preparing your responses in a separate document can allow you to use spelling and grammar checkers. Once youve completed your proposal, take your time and read each of your responses aloud. This will help you catch run-on sentences that you may not notice when reading silently. Lastlyou should also use members of your writing team as proofreaders.