Describing Your Proposal

Your proposal description should demonstrate that you have an acceptable, credible, and feasible strategy to address the identified needs and funder's priorities. If done well, it should:

  • Establish organisational credibility
  • Demonstrate good management skills
  • Specify all the key components of the proposal including when and how they will be achieved
  • Indicate who the team will be.

You must:

  1. Clearly define your proposal's aims and objectives
  2. Outline your activities and describe how they will be implemented
  3. Provide an evaluation strategy
  4. Outline the skill set required to deliver your proposal
  5. Describe the anticipated long-term impact of your proposal.

Your description has to convince the funding body that your organisation:

  • Has the expert knowledge and technical skills to design and deliver a proposal that will meet the identified need
  • Will deliver the proposal in accordance with the funding body's expectations
  • Has identified appropriate outcomes and systems to measure performance 
  • Is able to complete the proposal in a timely manner and within budget
  • Has recognised, evaluated, and taken steps to reduce any risks associated with the proposal.

In developing a thorough description of your proposal, identify any risks which may eventuate (e.g., if the program/service is poorly scoped or the objectives are not clearly defined) (see Identifying Risk). 

Poorly written, unclear or incomplete project descriptions are not likely to receive funding.

What Should be in Your Description?

Your proposal description serves as a roadmap for the entire project. It provides:

  • Guidance on the prioritisation and sequencing of activities
  • The scope of work
  • The processes, policies, and quality standards it will adhere to
  • An indication of who your stakeholders are and communication strategies
  • An overview of the broad strategy involved in managing costs and personnel
  • How performance and benefits will be measured.

Due to the variety of elements and complexity involved in writing your proposal, structure and label your document with clear headings in a consistent, logical order. This will allow readers to navigate the document and easily see important details. 

The main areas to include in your proposal description are:

  • Scope (i.e., target population, geographic location, service features)
  • Human and material resources required
  • Activities and implementation timeline
  • Deliverables and outputs
  • Constraints (if any)
  • Risk management
  • Budget and amount requested (see Your Budget)
  • Communication and governance strategy
  • Evaluation plan.

Deliverables and Outputs

The deliverables are the intended end-result of your proposed program of work or service.

Use the objectives identified by the funding body and develop a list of activities that will achieve them. Describe in detail what activities will be involved in achieving the funding body's objectives.

Include a statement of when and how these will be achieved.

Sometimes funding bodies will specify the deliverables they expect when they fund a particular program/service.

Double-check the funding application guidelines to ascertain whether:

  • The funding body has specified a set of deliverables and objectives

  • You have addressed the deliverables and objectives in your application.


A well-thought out schedule should indicate the due dates for your activities and deliverables.

A schedule usually takes the form of a timeline or Gantt chart depicting tasks mapped on a timeline. The schedule outlines the sequence of activities and events which must occur for the successful execution of your proposal.

If your proposal has many different components, you can develop several schedules and attach them to your application. Such schedules may include:

  • An overall timeline
  • Recruitment and other start up activities
  • A piloting schedule
  • An implementation schedule
  • Resource allocation schedule.

Sometimes funding bodies will specify deadlines for deliverables. Double-check the funding application guidelines to see if deadlines have been imposed for any deliverables and make sure that you have addressed these in your funding application.

If you think that a deliverable deadline imposed by a funding body is not realistic, either:

  • Refine your proposed activities and associated estimates so that are better aligned with the funder's expectations
  • Contact the funding body to discuss your concerns about due dates for deliverable(s) and seek to negotiate a revised date. 

Other Common Components in Proposal Plans

A range of other items may be included in your proposal description. These items have been described elsewhere in this resource. Your proposal description may also want to:

TIPS: Describing Your Proposal

  • Err on the side of caution. Do not make bold unsubstantiated claims or include overly optimistic outcomes. Only include achievable activities and outcomes.
  • Be specific. Tell the funding body exactly what you will be providing. For example, if you are asking for funds to deliver prevention programs in schools then tell them how many schools you will be targeting. Tell them what schools you will be approaching and why you have chosen those schools.

References & Resources

The Project Smart Website


Complete the activities below by en​tering text into the fields provided and/or completing the attached documents. If you download and complete an attached document, you will have to save this to your personal file.

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Activity 8.4.1 Draft Your Proposal Description

Your proposal description details your strategy to meet the identified need and funding body’s priorities. It needs to be acceptable, credible, and feasible.

The questions below will help you draft a proposal description based on the Results Based Accountability Framework (see Section 2 About Your Organisation).

Section_8.4_Activities.pdf (129 KB)

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