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Effective Proposal Development

Return to Ideas

 Draft, 1990

Dave Redekopp

Barrie Day

Life-Role Development Group Limited

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TOPIC PAGE

INTRODUCTION 1

PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES 2

TYPES OF PROPOSALS 2

PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT PROCEDURES 4

COVER LETTER DEVELOPMENT, PROPOSAL DELIVERY, AND FOLLOW-UP 21

EFFECTIVE PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT

INTRODUCTION

Many organizations, both profit and not-for-profit, maintain and develop their operations through funds received from proposals for programs and services. The Centre for Career Development Innovation, an entrepreneurially-driven not-for-profit organization, is an example of an organization that obtains virtually all of its income on the basis of effective proposals. The Centre's survival depends on our abilities in proposal writing and thus, we have been forced to become proficient at the task (the Centre has developed over fifty proposals in the last three years and currently operates at about a 70% success rate; in other words, for every 10 proposals we develop, 7 receive funding). We developed this document in order to prevent others from the trial-and-error learning that we have undergone; it reviews the bare essentials of developing proposals that will effectively generate interest and funding support for programs and services. The review includes:

(a) various outcomes or objectives of developing proposals;

(b) types of proposals;

  • (c) prerequisite research;

    (d) development of proposal content; and

    (e) cover letter development, proposal delivery and follow-up.

  • Embedded in the descriptions of the above components are "tips" or "pointers" that we have found useful.

     

    PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES

    The bottom line of proposal development is increased business for the organization. Ultimately, proposals must lead to increased productivity/profitability for the organization if they are to be considered effective. Proposals will achieve this if they accomplish at least one of the following goals:

     A. Increased funding. Most proposals are developed for the purposes of directly obtaining funding. Three types of funding are usually requested via proposals:

     
  • 1. Funding for specific programs/services. The vast majority of proposals written by the Centre are designed to obtain funds for programs and services that will meet the client's needs. For example, a proposal to deliver a series of workshops to an organization would fall under this category.

    NOTE: Proposals for specific programs or services need not be restricted to a single organization. Proposals can be developed by several organizations participating in a joint-venture project.

    2. Funding for operational support. Some proposals, particularly those developed by not-for-profit agencies, are intended to obtain funding for the maintenance and development of the organization's operations. For example, the Centre obtained its initial funding from Canada Employment and Immigration with this type of proposal.

    3. Funding for capital expenses. Proposals can also be utilized to acquire funds for "hard" expenses such as buildings, laboratory equipment, and office equipment. For example, a private college such as Concordia may develop such a proposal to obtain funds for the purchase of physical education equipment.

     

  • B. Increased stability of funding. When an organization has established an acceptable level of credibility within its marketplace, it may begin to develop proposals that will ensure the stability of its funding. For example, if the Centre had conducted a considerable amount of quality research for Canada Employment and Immigration, it could consider developing a proposal that requests access to an ongoing research account. In other words, "up front" money would be provided and the client would request services that would "draw down" on the initial sum. This type of funding guarantees a specified amount of work for an organization and thus stabilizes its budgeting requirements.

     

    C. Increased recognition of organization. Although proposals are rarely developed solely for the purposes of increasing an organization's visibility or reputability in the marketplace, it is occasionally worthwhile for an organization to do so. New organizations must especially consider this option. For example, an emerging organization may submit a proposal even when it possesses virtually no hope of having the proposal accepted (e.g., due to competitors); proposals used in this way serve as a marketing tool. Of course, all proposals, regardless of their intended outcomes, should serve this purpose.

    TYPES OF PROPOSALS

    Three types of proposals are available to achieve the above outcomes. From "least likely to be accepted" to "most likely to be accepted," they are: (a) unsolicited proposals, (b) solicited proposals with a general audience, and (c) solicited proposals with a specific audience. These types are briefly explained below.

     

    Unsolicited Proposals. Unsolicited proposals are the least likely to be accepted because, as their name implies, no one has asked for them. Unsolicited proposals are usually developed when:

    (a) an organization is new and requires business quickly;
  • (b) an organization is experiencing a lull in its activities and has individuals on staff who have free time that is being paid for whether they do anything or not;

    (c) an organization is keenly interested in a project and is willing to risk some rejections in order to undertake the project; and

    (d) a client has indicated casual interest in a program or service but has not requested a proposal.

  • If condition (d) is the motivation for developing the proposal, an unsolicited proposal can be a worthwhile undertaking. Otherwise, the organization is risking losing a considerable amount of time and effort in the pursuit of unsolicited proposals (NOTE: Proposal development is never a complete waste of time. Writing a proposal forces staff to clarify their thoughts, develop new ideas, and present old ideas in new ways. Proposal development thus invariably leads to staff development).

    Organizations that successfully pursue unsolicited proposals calculate the risks, gauge their time accordingly, and conduct a considerable amount of information gathering with the client before committing to a formal proposal.

     TIP: When "checking out" a client's potential interest in a project, involve at least two people: one to analyze/evaluate the client's interest and one to develop the client's interest. For example, when we are ascertaining the worth of a prospective unsolicited proposal, Barrie attempts to motivate and encourage the client to consider a project and Dave attempts to ascertain the true interest of the client in the project.

     

    Solicited Proposals with a General Audience. Calls for proposals are often placed in newspapers or delivered through mail-outs as "Invitations to Tender" or "Invitations to Qualify." Any organization can respond to these calls, and thus competition is an important consideration. With "Invitations to Tender," clients request proposals for specific programs or services. The organization responding to an invitation must consider that twenty or more competitors will also be applying (in the case of a mail-out invitation, it is useful to phone the client and ask how many invitations were sent out -- the fewer that are sent out, the better chance the organization has of being accepted). With considerable competition in place, the organization must struggle with submitting a proposal that provides a quality service/program and a reasonable budget. This task is difficult if the organization is not familiar with the competition.

     TIP: Be aware that publicly supported institutes (e.g., University of Alberta) receive base funding that covers their fixed or overhead costs (these costs include the basics of running an organization -- support staff salaries, utilities, space, etc. More on this later). This means that they can usually compete on projects at a lower cost (up to about 25% lower) than non-publicly funded organizations.

    With "Invitations to Qualify," organizations are requested to submit pre-proposal submissions that will qualify them to later submit proposals. Qualification submissions involve descriptions of the organization's history, status, operations, human resources, and expertise in a particular area. These proposals are the least cost-effective to develop and will thus be excluded from the following discussion.

     

    Solicited Proposals with a Specific Audience. The ideal type of proposal from an organization's perspective is one that has been requested from only a few organizations. For example, a client may request proposals from only three organizations, thereby keeping competition to a minimum. Better yet, an organization may be the sole source of a proposal, thus eliminating competition entirely. Specific solicited proposals are relatively common when an organization has established itself either in the marketplace or with a specific client. For example, each year CCDI is the sole source for a number of requests for proposals to develop training programs for career development specialists.

     

    PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT PROCEDURES

     

    Conduct Prerequisite Research. Regardless of a proposal's type or intended outcome, the development of a proposal begins with preliminary research about the client and the subject matter of the proposal. Although a great deal of this information will not explicitly appear in the final proposal, it serves to guide everything developed within the proposal. This research should be designed to answer the following questions.

     

    Questions about the Client, Competitors, and the Nature of the Proposal

     

    1. Who is the client? Although this question may seem to have an obvious answer, our experience has indicated that several "clients" are generally involved in any single project. For example, consider a government department that requests proposals for a labour market research project. The apparent "client" in this case may be the director of the research division of the government department. However, the director of the research division has "clients" of his or her own: the public, industry, politicians, and directors of other divisions within the department. The director's job will be to read incoming proposals with an eye toward the needs of these clients. All of these "clients" must somehow be satisfied with the submitted proposal, even if they never read the proposal.

    Another example: An organization has requested proposals on training for its staff. In this case, at least two clients can be identified: the manager/supervisor requesting training and the staff who will be trained. Again, both their needs must be dealt with in the proposal.

    Of course, there is almost always a "primary client" who will be ultimately responsible for accepting or rejecting the proposal. The primary client thus must be satisfied with the proposal. This means that it is worth the time it takes to learn about the primary client's background, interests, and views.

     

    2. What problem is the primary client attempting to solve? Clients request proposals because they have a problem or because they want to prevent a problem. The submitting organization should take some time to ascertain the specific nature of this perceived problem because the perceived problem may not be the same as the client's real problem. For example, CCDI was asked to submit a proposal on team-building for a client who was attempting to deal with low staff morale and a lack of productivity. As we researched the problem, we found that the primary client had defined the problem reasonably well but had prescribed the solution (i.e. team-building) very poorly. Through our understanding of the problem, we were able to recommend a completely different solution.

     

    TIP: Solving the actual problem rather than the primary client's perceived problem is a matter of organizational integrity. Our experience is that maintaining integrity, although it may cost us some business in the short-term (e.g., the solution we recommended above was not one that we had the expertise to undertake), it serves CCDI well in the long-term.

     

    3. How has the primary client dealt with the problem in the past? The submitting organization should determine how this problem has been dealt with previously so that it can (a) avoid past mistakes and (b) highlight how its approach to the problem will be superior (without rubbing anything into the client's face!). For example, a client may request a proposal on staff training because current training procedures are inadequate. If the submitting organization finds that current training is traditional (i.e., theory-driven content, pure lecture-format delivery), the organization will submit a proposal that emphasizes its competency-based curriculum design system that utilizes expert performance and a variety of delivery formats.

     

    4. Why is the problem a problem for the client? Understanding the motives of a client is essential to effective proposal development. For example, a primary client who requests staff training proposals may simply be concerned with low morale rather than with skill-building. With this type of motive in mind, the submitting organization will know better than to develop a high-priced training package.

     

    5. When does the proposed project start and end? The more specific a proposal is, the more likely it is to be accepted. The submitting organization should find out the timeline expectations of the client.

     

    6. How much is the client expecting to spend to solve the problem? One of the most difficult aspects of proposal development is budgeting. Clients rarely include budget guidelines in their proposal requests, and thus it is up to the submitting organization to ascertain the expected range. One way to do this is to ask the primary client directly (this requires a considerable amount of rapport). Another way is to network with those involved with the client.

     

    7. Who is competing on the proposal submission? Knowledge of competition enables the submitting organization to (a) ascertain the likelihood of acceptance of its proposal and (b) determine how best to highlight its strengths in solving the problem. For example, a college such as Concordia is well served to compete on the basis of its small size when competing against a large organization such as the University of Alberta. Concordia's proposal would emphasize personal contact with students, meeting students' idiosyncratic needs, and rapid adaptability to changing needs.

     

    8. What are the mechanics of proposal submission? By "mechanics," we mean due dates, proposal forms (some organizations require specific forms to be filled out), number of copies to submit, authorized signatures required (some organizations require submissions to be signed by various authorities within the organization), address to send the proposal to, and title of the primary client.

     

    TIP: With respect to all of the above points, the submitting organization should always contact the primary client to gather more details about the proposal request (e.g., have a lunch meeting with the client). Further, secondary clients should be contacted to determine their needs. This process informs the submitting organization and begins a process of rapport-building that will be invaluable when the proposal is being evaluated.

     

    Questions about the Content of the Proposal

    9. Generally, how has the problem been solved in the past? The submitting organization must be familiar with the problem faced by the client and with general ways that the problem is typically dealt with. Developing this familiarity usually involves conducting a literature review. For example, if a client requests research on ways to recruit, select, and maintain Native Canadian workers, a literature review should be conducted to identify ways that this issue has been dealt with previously. 

    TIP: Not all proposals require extensive literature reviews. In fact, extensive reviews often bore the reader and should therefore be avoided. The purpose of the literature review is to enable the submitting organization to develop a plan and to defend its approach. In the actual proposal, the literature review is generally quite cursory or is supplied in an appendix.

    10. What assumptions will guide the submitting organization in solving the problem? Whether they appear in the proposal or not, it is important for the submitting organization to delineate its assumptions in approaching the problem. For example, an assumption or guiding principle in CCDI's training proposals is that training must meet the learners' needs as well as the organization's needs if it is to be effective.

    11. How will the submitting organization solve the problem? Obviously, the submitting organization must develop a strategy for solving the client's problem. How this is done depends upon the organization, its human resources, the nature of the problem, and the expertise of the organization.

    12. Who in the submitting organization is available to solve the problem? The organization that submits a proposal for a project better be able to carry it out if accepted! This means ensuring that appropriate human resources are available to conduct the project.

    TIP: Whenever possible, involve the proposed "project team" in the development of the proposal. Although this is costly, it ensures that everyone will be "on board" when the proposal is accepted.

    13. What other resources will be required to solve the problem? In order to budget effectively, the submitting organization must be aware of resources needed besides the human resources addressed above, such as the following: 

    • space
    • utilities
    • reception services
    • office supplies
    • office equipment
    • administration costs
    • phone/fax/telecommunications
      • (NOTE: The above is usually considered to be "overhead")
    • travel
    • leases
    • special equipment/supplies/services
    • word processing
    • specific materials (e.g., textbooks)
    • subsistence (e.g. hotels/food)

     

    Develop Proposal Draft. With the above questions answered, the submitting organization is ready to develop the first draft of a proposal. (In this section of the paper, we are assuming that no specified format has been requested for the proposal.) The following paragraphs list and describe the various components of a proposal in the order in which they will appear in the final draft, not in the order in which they are completed.

    Title Page

    Title pages for proposals generally include the following elements:

    •  project name or title
    •  brief proposal description
    •  date
    •  client name
    •  client address
    •  submitting organization name
    •  submitting organization address
    •  contact person
    •  contact person title
    •  contact person phone and fax numbers

    An example title page is included in Figure 1. The title page is one of the last things to be developed when writing proposals. Do not put a page number on the title page.

    Table of Contents

    Unless they are very short (3 or 4 pages), most proposals benefit from a table of contents. Leave this for last in the development process. Do not put a page number on the table of contents page.

    Figure 1: Example Proposal Title Page

    CAREER PATHS IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL OCCUPATIONS

     

    A PROPOSAL TO DEVELOP A CAREER PATH MATRIX FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL OCCUPATIONS

    SPRING, 1990

     

    PREPARED FOR:

    LABOUR MARKET RESEARCH DIVISION

    ALBERTA CAREER DEVELOPMENT AND EMPLOYMENT

    9TH FLOOR, CITYCENTRE BUILDING

    10155 102 STREET

    EDMONTON, ALBERTA

    T5J 4L5

     

    PREPARED BY:

    CENTRE FOR CAREER DEVELOPMENT INNOVATION

    CONCORDIA COLLEGE

    9359 - 67A STREET

    EDMONTON, ALBERTA

    T6B 1R7

     

    Contact:

    Dave Redekopp

    Director of Program Development

    Telephone: 466-6633

    Fax: 466-9394

     

    Executive Summary

    Decision-makers are often very busy people. Consequently, they have little time to read an entire proposal. To ensure that executives "buy-in" to the ideas in your proposal, create a brief (almost always a page or less) abstract of the proposal's contents. In the abstract, highlight the need for the project and the outcomes of the project. Do not include information regarding the budget or timeline, and keep descriptions of method to a minimum.

     TIPS:
  • This should be the last section developed (besides the title and table of contents).
  • Target the summary to your knowledge of the primary client(s).
  • Minimize the use of jargon.
  • An example executive summary is provided in Figure 2. The executive summary should be page #1.

    Background

    Also called an "Introduction" or "Preamble," the background section of a proposal sets the stage for the remainder of the proposal. The intentions of the background section are to:

    (a) create motivation to read the proposal,
  • (b) inform the reader about the submitting organization,

    (c) demonstrate the knowledge/expertise of the submitting organization,

    (d) identify the problem,

    (e) hint at very general solutions to the problem, and

    (f) introduce the proposal itself.

  • The background section should be very succinct (almost always 1 page or less). Figure 3 contains a sample background section.

    Assumptions or Guiding Principles

    As a sub-heading under "Background" or as a section in itself, an "assumptions" or "guiding principles" section serves to orient the client to the organization's way of thinking about the problem. This section also serves clarify delimitations (i.e., things the project will not address) of the project. An example of a delimiting assumption is: "The Centre will assume that the project is complete after one set of revisions of the initial draft." This type of assumption indicates to the client that additional editing of a product (e.g., a textbook) will have to be negotiated.

    See Figure 4 for example assumptions.

     

    Figure 2: Example Executive Summary

    CAREER PATHS IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL OCCUPATIONS

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    Social trends influence political and economic forces, thereby exerting considerable influence on the labour market. The tremendous increase in public interest in the preservation and enhancement of the natural environment competes only with the democratization of Eastern bloc countries as the most significant social trend of the latter part of this century. Public concern for the environment influences political decisions, economic development strategies, research and development directions, and consumer patterns; as these factors change, labour market supply and demand are directly influenced. On the demand side, employers are finding an increasing need to add environmental speciality skills to current roles within their organizations and to add entirely new roles to their organizational structures. On the supply side, individuals are faced with what appears to be a myriad of opportunities to enhance their current roles or to take on entirely new occupational roles.

    This study is concerned with the provision of information that will assist both the supply and demand components of the labour market equation with respect to the environment. Of the various initiatives that need to be undertaken (e.g., determining education/training needs, identifying demographic trends) to assist employers and workers to adequately cope with the transitions brought on by environmental concerns, this study will focus on a logical precursor to all other labour market analysis activities: creating a meaningful taxonomy of environmental occupations. In other words, this study will identify and classify environmental occupations. The classification system, an "Environmental Occupation Matrix," can serve as a base for further studies regarding topics such as career movement or education/training opportunities.

    Figure 3: Example Background Section

    I. BACKGROUND

    Growing public concern regarding the continuing deterioration of the environment has emphasized the need for new roles as well as the enhancement of current roles in the environmental occupations. An organized framework of this emerging cluster of occupations is necessary to identify specific gaps in the industry and to motivate people to become involved in these occupations. Currently, no such framework exists.

    The Centre for Career Development Innovation is a not-for-profit affiliate of Concordia College that is devoted to the development of innovative career development principles and practices. The Centre for Career Development Innovation, in conjunction with Alberta Career Development and Employment, has developed an organizational concept and methodology for identifying and portraying career paths within an occupational cluster. This framework, the Career Path Matrix, would be well applied to the field of environmental occupations as it would serve to:

    (a) motivate people with the appropriate skills, values, and interests to enter the field;
  • (b) better identify training requirements for specific occupations for employers and employees;

    (c) identify human resource gaps; and

    (d) stimulate further technological advances.

  • The Centre for Career Development Innovation proposes to develop an environmental occupations Career Path Matrix for Alberta Career Development and Employment. In the following pages, the assumptions, purposes, methodology, project team, timeline, and budget for the proposal are provided.

     

    Figure 4: Example Assumptions

    II. ASSUMPTIONS

    1. The best sources of information regarding environmental occupations are experts within those occupations.

    2. A career path can be envisioned when individuals are aware of the skills, attitudes, knowledge, values, interests, and beliefs of occupations within a potential path.

    3. In a project of this nature, there can be no guarantees that all environmental occupations can be identified. The field is evolving too rapidly to ensure such certainty.

    4. All products developed from this project will be the property of Alberta Career Development and Employment.

     

    Project Goals or Objectives

    A "project goals" section serves to highlight the outcomes or products of the project. Goals can take the form of tangible products (e.g., resource materials), knowledge/clarity (as in the case of research), or services (e.g., a workshop series that will enhance staff productivity). An example goals section is provided in Figure 5.

     

    Figure 5: Example Project Goals

    III. PROJECT GOALS

    This project has three specific purposes:

    (a) to conceptually organize the environmental occupational cluster for the purpose of career planning;

    (b) to identify career path opportunities within this group of roles in terms of skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, and interests; and

    (c) to identify education/training requirements and programs as well as salary ranges for the various roles.

    In this proposal, however, only the first purpose will be fulfilled. The identification of career path opportunities, education requirements, and salary ranges will remain for subsequent project proposals.

     

    Method

    The method section should succinctly describe how the project will be undertaken (i.e., how the goals will be reached). Provide a brief outline of the sequence of the proposed actions and, for purposes of clarity, identify these actions as numbered stages, steps, or phases.

    TIP: The closer that each step ties to a specific project goal, the better. This provides the reader with a clear understanding of why each step is necessary.

    TIP: Do not cover methodology in detail. Include detailed descriptions of specific methods in the appendices. For example, if a questionnaire is to be utilized in a project, do not go into all the details of how the questionnaire will be created and verified. Keep to the essentials of questionnaire development, and provide detailed information in appendices.

    The steps involved vary from project to project. Below is a common list of program development steps that may serve as a useful guide.

    1. Needs Analysis. Conducting a needs analysis ensures that the training program serves some specifiable purpose. (Example method: focus groups)

    2. Outcome Analysis. When the need for a training program is identified, the next step is to determine the training outcomes, or the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that participants will develop. (Example method: Life-Role Analysis)

    3. Program Design. Having determined the necessary training outcomes, the program needs to be designed. Expertise that will be utilized should be included here. (Example method: Competency-based education procedures)

    4. Program Delivery. When developed, the program needs to be delivered. Here, reinforce the outcomes/products of training. (Example method: Combined in-class and self-study formats)

    5. Program Management. All programs have to be managed in one way or another. In most proposals, this section can be omitted unless there is something novel about the program's management method.

    6. Program Evaluation. Programs should be evaluated with both formative and summative measures. Formative evaluations occur throughout the program and allow revisions to be made while the program is running. Summative evaluations are completed at the end of a program, or some time after the completion of a program. Include the criteria of evaluation (e.g., performance tests, student satisfaction). Include also that recommendations for subsequent programs will be provided. (Example method: student feedback on questionnaires, student employment after training)

    For an example of a different type of methodology, see Figure 6.

    Figure 6: Example Method Section

    IV. METHOD

    A preliminary Career Path Matrix diagram will be created with the assistance of environmental experts and career development specialists. This preliminary diagram will provide the framework for all other activities.

    Step 1: Matrix Segmentation. First, the different levels (e.g. entry, management, entrepreneur), which comprise the vertical segment of the grid, and the different divisions (e.g. environment maintenance, research, enhancement and damage prevention), which make up the horizontal segment of the grid, will be identified. A focus group discussion with environmental and career development experts will be held for this purpose. The focus group will be followed by individual consultations with each expert in the group.

    Step 2: Occupational Role Identification. Specific occupations that are contained in each cell (one specific level within a division) will be identified. The panel of experts described above will assist in this identification, and a literature review will also be conducted.

    Step 3: Matrix Validation. The preliminary Matrix diagram will be validated for accuracy with additional environmental and career experts.

    Step 4: Report and Recommendations. A report will be written that summarizes the project findings, presents the preliminary Matrix diagram, and makes recommendations for subsequent project activities. The report will also identify industry streams with direct involvement in environmental occupations (e.g., agriculture, forestry, manufacturing).

     

    Project Team

    When a project requires a considerable amount of expertise to complete, it is wise to identify the team for the project. Again, this should be very brief and include the following information:

    (a) project function,

    (b) name,

    (c) title, and

    (d) 3 to 5 key points that indicate the individual's suitability.

    The Centre does not include credentials in its description of team members, but it is perfectly appropriate to do so.

     

    Example:

    Project Manager: Barrie Day, Executive Director 

    Timeline

    Timelines serve two purposes. First, they indicate to the client when various tasks will be completed. Second, they enable the client to budget resources appropriately if the proposal is accepted.

    TIP: Find out the fiscal year of the prospective client. Projects that extend beyond a fiscal year are likely to be rejected. For example, both federal and provincial government fiscal years end on March 31. The vast majority of projects for government thus have to be completed by that date.

    For an example timeline, see Figure 7.

    Figure 7: Example Timeline

    V. TIMELINE

    The project will be implemented in the following timeframe:

    Week

    Activity

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

    1. Coordinate Literature Review

    ----------

    2. Identify Focus Group Experts

    ----

    3. Develop Research Strategies

    ---

    4. Conduct Focus Group

        ---

    5. Follow-up Consultations

            ----------

    6. Validate Matrix

                ------

    7. Write Report

                       ---

    Assuming an April 2, 1990 start date, the project will be completed by June 1, 1990.

    Budget

    The budget section of a proposal should clearly indicate how requested funds are to be spent. Generally, budgets follow the sequence of steps in the method section and provide a cost for each step. Then, "extras" such as project management, travel, and printing supplies are included.

     TIP: Estimate the cost of the work as closely as possible. It does not take too much "padding" to make a proposal non-competitive.

    TIP: After all actual costs have been calculated, add them up and add 35%. This addition will allow for overhead costs, which should amount to about 28% of the total bill. This 28% is called "gross profit" and includes office expenses (space, reception, utilities, etc.) and net profit. The net profit will amount to about 4% to 10% of the total bill.

    TIP: Do not have a "profit" or "overhead" line in the budget. Take the 28% for overhead and either:

    (a) build it into all the lines of the budget, or

    (b) specify how it will be allocated (e.g., project management, fax/phone, support staff, miscellaneous).

    An example budget if provided in Figure 8. In the example budget, the total bill is $7,200. Consequently, the gross profit should be $7,200 X .28 = $2016. This means that actual expenditures will be $7,200 - 2016 = $5,184. Notice that the $2016 figure does not appear in the budget. Some of this figure ($800) has been included under the "Service" category, and the rest has been embedded in the remaining figures for activities. If all goes as planned with this project, the Centre would receive about $7,200 X .04 = $288 that it could use for whatever purpose seemed appropriate. The rest of the funds would be absorbed into actual operations. Notice that there is not a great deal of room for error in budgeting -- it does not take much to spend an extra $288 (e.g., buying lunches for the experts would absorb this very quickly).

    TIP: For every project completed, keep track of actual expenditures. This will aid budget projections in the future.

    TIP: It is often wise to lose money on a project if it leads to another project (as was the case with the example project used in this document). When one small project leads to a much larger project, the small project may act as a "lost leader" or marketing expense to get the organization's "foot in the door."

    Figure 8: Example Budget

    VI. BUDGET

    1. Coordinate Literature Review $800

    2. Identify Content Experts 400

    3. Develop Research Strategy 800

    3.1 Focus Group

    3.2 Consultations

    3.3 Information Search

    4. Conduct Focus Group 800

    5. Follow-up Consultations 1,200

    6. Validate Matrix 1,600

    7. Write Report 800

    Service

    Material/Print 200

    Travel/Subsistence/Incidental Expenses 300

    Word Processing 300

  •  

    TOTAL $7,200

     

  • Appendices

    Appendices are optional and may include the following:

    (a) detailed descriptions of procedures,
  • (b) full literature reviews & reference lists,

    (c) resumes of team members,

    (d) client list (previous customers), and

    (e) organization promotional material.

  • Miscellaneous. After the proposal draft is complete, it should be carefully proofread and cleaned up. Some tips for finalizing the profiling are listed below:

    COVER LETTER DEVELOPMENT, PROPOSAL DELIVERY, AND FOLLOW-UP

    Cover Letter. All proposals should be accompanied by a cover letter personally addressed to the primary client. In the cover letter,

    (a) indicate how many proposals are enclosed and their title,

    (b) indicate the source of the proposal (e.g., Invitation to Tender),

    (c) review your organization's excitement about and interest in the project,

    (d) emphasize a key feature or two of the proposal, and

    (e) indicate your willingness to answer further questions.

  •  
  • Proposal Delivery. Whenever possible, proposals should be hand delivered to the primary client. This enables the submitting organization to verbally and personally indicate its enthusiasm about the project.

    TIP: When the client is in a different location, have a "friend" of the organization deliver the proposal. For example, if a client is in Calgary, Concordia College could have a "friend of Concordia" who lives in Calgary personally deliver the proposal.

    Proposal Follow-Up. When delivering the proposal, inquire as to when a decision will be made. When the date passes and no response has been given, feel free to call the primary client to obtain another decision date. If the client indicates that your proposal has been rejected, make sure to ask why -- this is the best way to learn so that future proposals can be improved.

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