Proposal Writing

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:

  1. It responds to the donor's needs and objectives.
  2. It presents a convincing problem based on analysis.
  3. It shows a viable solution to that problem.
  4. 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.

UN NGO Proposal Writing Mentoring


1-to-1 guidance · Analysis · Planning
Project design · Results frameworks

UN NGO Proposal Writing Research


Compliance · Current practices

UN NGO Proposal Writing Drafting


Structure · Original copy
Diagrams · Revision

UN NGO Proposal Writing Reviewing


Objectives · Compliance · Clarity
Conviction · Feedback

Editing Grant Proposals


Style · Flow
Consistency · Language

Proofreading Grant Proposals


Proofreading · Accuracy


Themes I often work with

Arts & Culture
Civil Society Strengthening
Community Development
Human Rights & Protection
Humanitarian Assistance
International Development
Post-conflict Recovery & Reconstruction

Documents I usually write or co-write

Curriculum vitae (CVs)
Flow charts
Grant applications
Implementation plans
Logical/Results frameworks
Problem trees
Project proposals
Risk matrices
Technical proposals
Terms of reference
Work plans

Some recent donor experience

Dutch Research Council (NWO)
Government of Finland
National Geographic
Nationale Postcode Loterij
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO)



I have worked on proposals ranging from €30k to €75m for UN agencies, consulting firms and NGOs. 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!

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

Sally's innovative ideas, writing skills, brainstorming sessions and guidance helped the team to accomplish the tasks.

International consulting firm, Czech Republic

Dear Sally, I can't thank you enough for putting so much time and effort into writing the CP and the project proposal with such a limited access to information.

Environmental NGO, Iraq

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.
    In addition to the funding requirements consider 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. 
Cheatsheet - Ways to improve your proposal writing
Cheatsheet_Ways to Improve your Proposal Writing_Omnia Writing Services

Stumped by objectives, outcomes and outputs?
Need help making your proposal focused and readable?

Grant Proposals & Other Writing Services

Proposal Writing
Other Services (copy-editing)

Get in touch

Phone: +31 30 237 8017

Company name: Omnia Writing Services
Reg. no.: 68494718 (The Netherlands)

Copyright © 2022 Omnia Writing Services/Sally Johnson