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How to structure a proposal

There are many reasons you may need to write a proposal in the business world. Perhaps you are applying for a grant or other type of funding. Or maybe you are proposing a new system be put in place around the office. Whatever the reason, a well-written, well-structured proposal increases your chances of getting what you want.

The following outlines a basic structure you can follow for a proposal:

- Title page. Your title should be short and self-explanatory. Avoid using colons in your title (for example, Budget Cuts: Why We Need Them)
- Executive Summary: Your next section should contain an executive summary. This typically includes an explanation of what your project will accomplish and how it will do so. Covered in the summary should be the need or issue at hand, the solution, the objectives, and anything else worth noting.
- Introduction: This should give the reader a description of who you are, your position within the company and its relevance to the proposal, and what you do. This should be about a paragraph, no more than two.
- Problem/Need: The purpose of this section is to define the problem or need that your proposal is addressing. You should argue for the problem's importance by backing it up with facts, statistics, interviews, and comparisons of others in the area who have faced the same problem, if applicable. Then explain how your solution can solve the problem and why it is the best course of action.
- Objective/Solution: Your solution will be your objective, or main goal, or what you hope to accomplish. You reach your objectives through smaller, measurable goals and are the result of those little goals or actions taken to solve the problem.
- Work Plan: This is so you can let the reader know you know how to solve the problem efficiently and effectively. Describe activities and assignments in detail, and state who will do what, and when, and why they are qualified to do so. More lengthy projects can include a timetable.
- Staff: Include brief staff biographies, resumes, and highlight major achievements applicable to solving the problem at hand. If you need to hire new staff, provide job description.
- Evaluation: You should have a plan in mind that will evaluate your solution and whether or not it was successful. Explain how you will determine the success rate and what tools will be used to measure that.
- Conclusion: Your conclusion will reinforce the request. Restate the problem and your solution and why you feel like it will be successful.
- Budget: Your budget should not only include a detailed breakdown of actual figures, but a justification for the amount of the investment as well. Describe the amount needed and why, as well as where you will get the funds from.

This outline is a good, basic structure for a proposal. Feel free to add any sections you feel may be applicable.

When you are finished with your proposal, make sure you run a spell check on it. In addition, you probably want to have at least one or two people look over it to provide any insight or recommendations they may have. You want your proposal to be as organized, neat, and error-free as possible. A proposal that is succinct, well-written, and free from grammatical and spelling errors will increase your chances of getting what you want.

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