Proposal Templates: Great Idea or a Fool’s Errand?
Isn’t it much easier to create a blanket proposal template in response to a request for proposals (RFP) rather than develop a customized proposal in response to each specific grant and/or contract opportunity? Well…. The answer is not so simple. What are the considerations in deciding what information can be used in multiple proposals versus information that needs to be customized? Let’s discuss them here (please note this list does not reflect all proposal items, but those that are commonly used).
Common proposal items (for the same project/program/organization)
- Key personnel
- Organizational/company/departmental capabilities
- Organization’s logic model
- Background and history of organization
- Research and statistics that support statement of need
- Evaluation measurement processes and tools
- Project and program management and oversight practices
- Program summary
- Project design (research proposals)
- Case studies and past performance documents
- Sustainability plan
- Attachments (including, but not limited to) – resumes and curriculum vitaes, board of directors listing, financial documents (budgets, audits and 990 forms), 501(c)(3) status, organizational policies and procedures, marketing materials, annual report
Proposal items that require customization
- Proposal narrative that is responsive to specific requirements of an RFP (may lift elements from a template proposal)
- Budget and budget narrative that adhere to a specific funding request
- Logic model (if project/program specific) and aligns to specific funding request
- Project workplan for the initiative/program
- Evaluation plan that adheres to logic model and narrative
- Alignment of key personnel to implementation of the project/program
How can you best use a proposal template to your benefit?
- Prepare narrative language that is approved by leadership and also includes graphics in advance of a proposal deadline
- Identify statistics, best practices, and research that bolster your case statement
- Ensure alignment with your project/program design, evaluation process and goals prior to make best use of strategic planning
While you will always have to develop a unique proposal for each opportunity, there is A LOT you can do in advance to prepare yourself for upcoming deadlines.