3. Take Breaks
There’s nothing more frustrating than pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into a proposal only to catch a spelling mistake, grammatical error, misplaced punctuation mark, or formatting error after you’ve submitted it. Depending on your reviewer, this can be a death sentence: if your proposal is full of careless errors, how can they trust your work won’t be too?
One of the easiest ways to avoid this pitfall is to walk away. If you can, take an hour, an afternoon, or a day off from writing and come back to it later with fresh eyes. Getting some distance and giving yourself time to recharge makes it easier to spot mistakes when you come back.
4. Use the RFP as an Outline and a Checklist
Every RFP is different. Every proposal should be too.
Taking a one-size-fits-all approach to proposal writing is a quick way to disqualify yourself from consideration. It tells the reviewer that you didn’t take the time to understand what they were asking for, and that you aren’t invested in solving their problem. This is where the RFP itself can be helpful.
Identifying key questions and priorities gives you a ready-made checklist you can use when writing, reviewing, and editing your proposal. Structuring your proposal so it follows the flow of the RFP likewise provides an easy way for reviewers to evaluate whether you’ve met the requested criteria. It also allows you to identify any details that might be missing from the RFP or questions you may have. Bonus: contacting the agency for clarification shows an eye for detail and a commitment to quality. It also helps keep your organization top of mind when it comes time to review proposal submissions.
5. Save Key Text for Future Proposals
As the saying goes, “don’t reinvent the wheel.” While proposals should be tailored to individual programs, grants, and grant-making organizations, there’s nothing wrong with reusing text if it’s universally applicable (for example, a company bio or examples of past work) or compelling and well-written. In addition to saving time, it establishes a consistent tone for your proposals. This helps agencies get familiar with your organization and shows reliability—particularly important if you’re responding to multiple RFPs.
6. Get an Outside Perspective
Familiarity breeds contempt—or, as discussed earlier, an inability to spot mistakes and recognize gaps. One of the most useful things you can do during the editing process is to hand your work to someone who isn’t involved with the proposal (though it’s best to ask someone who understands the proposal process). Having a second set of eyes not only helps prevent careless mistakes, it’s also an opportunity to receive feedback from someone looking at your proposal for the first time—just like your reviewer will be.
Ideally, a reader should be able to walk away from your proposal with a clear understanding of what the RFP is asking for (without having to consult it), how your organization can meet those needs, and why you’re the best candidate for the job. Having a proofreader who can tell you where something might be confusing, vague, or missing gives you the chance to fill those gaps and ensure your proposal is strong.
Write Winning Proposals
Writing a proposal in response to an RFP is a time-consuming task, so when you do it, you must write to win—not just compete. Let WordRake help you make your proposal clear, crisp, and concise. Our software will cut jargon and useless words and show foundations and government agencies you can use plain language to effectively tell your story. When you use WordRake, you’ll receive instant feedback that will lead to better results. Get a 7-day free trial now.