Proposal Writing & Mentoring
What makes a grant proposal succeed?
Whether a proposal to reconstruct houses, strengthen local government, provide psychosocial support or prevent habitat loss, the four main reasons I see are:
- It responds to the donor's needs and objectives.
- It presents a convincing problem based on analysis.
- It presents a viable solution to that problem.
- It is well-written.
In other words, it offers value.
Dedicated to helping your proposal win
Drawing on my 15 years' experience with UN agencies and NGOs, track record of producing project proposals that get funded or approved, and ability to create logical frameworks that make sense, I can step in at any stage of your proposal writing process. I am also available to mentor staff in writing proposals.
1-to-1 guidance · Analysis · Planning
Project design · Results frameworks
Compliance · Current practices
Structure · Original copy
Diagrams · Revision
Objectives · Compliance · Clarity
Conviction · Feedback
Style · Flow
Consistency · Language
Proofreading · Accuracy
I have worked on more than 40 proposals ranging from €30k to €75m for UN agencies, consulting firms and NGOs. Since 2018 as a freelancer, I have been achieving a 60% funding success rate for the project/technical proposals I have written or edited. In 2020 I topped up my training in the latest project planning, logical framework and proposal writing techniques (ELD Training). I am also a certified Professional Technical Communicator (tekom Europe e.V.) and well-versed in all stages of the project cycle and monitoring & evaluation. In other words, I write your language!
Themes I often work with
Arts & Culture
Civil Society Strengthening
Human Rights & Protection
Post-conflict Recovery & Reconstruction
Documents I usually write or co-write
Curriculum vitae (CVs)
Terms of reference
Some recent donor experience
Dutch Research Council (NWO)
Government of Finland
Nationale Postcode Loterij
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO)
Need to deliver a successful proposal?
The outputs are consistently of high quality, and Sally has taken several initiatives that were extremely constructive. Add to this flexibility and a great disposition, she is a true pleasure to work with.
United Nations Resident Coordinator's Office, Somalia
Sally not only coped with our last minute rush, but she also added very constructive suggestions for content and format. The result was a proposal that's easy to read, bang on message and right on time.
International NGO, Netherlands
Her innovative ideas, writing skills, brainstorming sessions and guidance helped the team to accomplish the tasks.
International consulting firm, Czech Republic
My top proposal writing tips
- Provide a solid analysis of the problem. Vague, verbose and outdated descriptions of the problem will put off any reader. Be relevant, be authentic and be clear. To grab your reader's attention, put your conclusions first and back them up with evidence.
- Don't leave the executive summary until last. It's your hook for getting attention. Try snappy and fresh but still professional and on target. The NOSE structure works well: Needs, Outcomes, Solutions, Evidence.
- Pay attention to the small things, not only the funding requirements but also the style, terminology and your knowledge of the funder. Doing this shows respect and keeps your reader in a positive mindset.
- Less is sometimes more. It's easy to get carried away with sections like the context, implementation approach and methodology. If the proposal template doesn't provide word limits, use headings and bullet lists to keep your content structured and to the point.
- Follow a project planning and writing process. The more you practise this, the easier, quicker and smarter each proposal will become.