Tips for Writing a Project Proposal

Writing a project proposal is simple yet complicated stuff. Proposals are tools and instruments to manage change and address the needs of the changing and evolving systems, processes and services. Proposals help to change the reality or a status quo, for the benefit of the community, to raise standards, enhance services or improve performance of an organization.

  1. Abstract

This is a summary of the whole document – a statement of the key information you have included in your proposal. It is an important part of any professional report or proposal. A decision maker will read only the abstract, so it must read well; be persuasive and sell your proposed idea well.

  1. Introduction (it is a good idea to write it after drafting all the document)
  • Subject of the proposal
  • Purpose of the proposal
  • Statement of the problem, issue, initiative or action. Why important?
  • Setting the scene; structure of your proposal
  1. Rationale/Background and Literature Review
  • Why is the change required?
  • What is the problem/issue (definition)?
  • How serious is the problem (quality)?
  • When, why and where does the issue occur?
  • Are there any similar systems and are there any solutions to the existing problem?
  • What is the evidence of addressing and not addressing the issue – what does the literature say? Does the literature state the same problem? Does it provide solutions? If yes – compare and state the outcomes that could inform your project. This is the evidence to support your initiative and project statement. If the literature does not state the similar problems and solutions, discuss the limitations, gaps, inconsistencies, constraints or lack of solutions in the current literature relating to your project and issue. The latter will also be your argument for initiating change and implementing the project.
  • Why is the change required? Any statements, following the literature review outcomes, on the current situation which requires change.
  • What is going to change if the project is successful (assumptions and predicted outcomes in general terms)?
  1. Project Details
  • Scope of the Project/ Description of the Project: what does the project entail?

This is the work, features, components and functions required to accomplish the plan/project.

  • Deliverables: what objectives will be achieved and what would be the indication of achievement of these objectives? How will it show? This is about results achieved step by step for the duration of the project, for example, interim reports, recommendations for action, improved service or program within a specific timeline, etc. An example of a deliverable for student learning support at the university here is the rate of the student retention, Distinction and High Distinction marks, number of students attending workshops, record of participation of students in the lectures and tutorials, etc. A deliverable is what has been delivered, provided or supplied in compliance with a particular plan, promise or proposed initiative/policy.
  • Constraints: what are the factors that limit or control what you have committed to implement? (Processes, stakeholders, systemic factors, political, financial, resources, timeline, etc.).
  • Implementation Stage: processes and strategies for realization or execution of the idea, plan, or policy. It is the action you take to follow your plan.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: how will you monitor the progress of your project/program/action? What tools or strategies will be in place to make sure the project and the process achieve the deliverables and meet the requirements? How will you assess the final outcomes of the project, program or action? What evaluation tools or evaluation strategies do you propose to show that the program/action will be effective (delivered what was promised, with tangible outcomes with cost-effective results, efficient and quality assured).
  • Project SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). Alternatively, state the Benefits of the Plan, Initiative, Program or Action: outcomes, results, quality, enhanced service and client satisfaction, importance of values and common ideals, and standards.
  • Resources required: people, physical resources, technology, office equipment, money, i.e., funding, travel, communication or dissemination of information (phone, fax, Internet), etc.
  • Project Plan/Action Plan and Timeline/Milestone Schedule: what happens and when exactly, in a chronological time order). Tabular format.
  • Project Costs: items of project expenditure and the cost of each item, if required.

Project Approach

  • Methodology/Procedure: step by step description of the process; type of materials and resources used; type of information or data needed to implement the initiative; how the information will be collected and processed/analysed; what will be required to come up with the findings and final outcomes (tools, software, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups?).  It would include conditions or situations in which the action/program/initiative will be conducted, type or sample of a particular community, and particular clients or patients with specific illnesses, gender and age; professionals, for example, nurses (level of professional career and positions held); type of institution.


  • Stakeholders (people associated with the project and those at the receiving end of your action/project; decision makers, teams, community groups, patients/clients, etc.) What are their roles and responsibilities?
  • Beneficiaries: who will benefit from the change, initiative or action and in what way? A community group or individuals? Particular clients?  Patients with specific illnesses? Nurses and other professionals?


Conclusion is an important section of the proposal, the aim of which is to persuade the readers to say yes. It should be positive in tone and with persuasive wording and forward looking. It should show a transition from the main body of the proposal, highlighting benefits, demonstrating your look to the future and suggesting the next move. Start with “In conclusion…”, then use the words, such as “advantages of this plan…”, ”the author’s recommendation is…”, and also state and restate the main points (Sheehan, 2002). It should not be long, as the readers expect a brief and appealing conclusive summary.

In writing a project project proposal, you need to take care of all the above

  • If unsure about the definitions of the project proposal terminology, please access dictionaries and the Internet. There are examples and descriptions of project components, such as Implementation, Scope of project, and many others. Please note that project proposals differ in structure, content and language depending on the genre (Business Case proposal, Commercial Project proposal, Community Development project proposal, or Policy change proposal, to name a few). “Project planning” or “Project management” entry on Google will take you to the sites with explanations and templates/examples.

For more information on academic writing, visit here



Davies, M. (2011). Study skills for international postgraduates. Palgrave Macmillan.

Sheehan, R. J. (2002). Writing proposals. Rhetoric for managing change. Longman.