• Whitney

What makes a client-focused proposal?


When I'm asked to review a proposal, I often ask the team to tell me about what they've proposed before I get into my review. What I'm normally doing is fishing. I'm fishing to see if they tell me about themselves first or the donor. If they start with their proposal explanation with themselves, I know that there's likely to be something wrong.

The key to a great proposal is a unbreakable focus on that client.

When I review a proposal, I always start with the donor guidance. A review of a proposal without focusing on donor guidance would be what? Testing the logic, but with know knowledge of whether or not the proposal is responsive is the role of a monitoring and evaluation specialist - not a business development mind.

Here are some questions you can ask to test whether you're focused on the donor:

  • Is the client named before us?

  • Is the client named more often than us?

  • Is their vision evident?

  • Have we used their vision language in our solution?

  • Are their hot button issues prioritized?

  • Are the benefits of our solution listed before the features?

  • Is the content organized as instructed?

  • Is the value proposition clear and are next steps defined?

These core questions can help measure whether you've placed the focus on what you want to do or what the client wants you to do. That simple, seemingly small, shift in mindset can be difficult to measure at first. But once you start to identify the key drivers, it becomes easier.

And having an outside set of eyes to give you a second opinion never hurts.

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