With all of the above complete, the proposal is almost done. However, it is still very important to review and format the proposal before sending it out.
Run a spell check and read for grammar errors
Some donors are very particular about grammar and spelling and think small mistakes may indicate the applicant is not very professional. Others may place less importance on it, but some small mistakes can change the meaning of, cause confusion or even make the proposal very difficult to comprehend.
Ensure the proposal is specific to the donor
Check to make sure the donor name, contact information, application procedure, supporting documents etc., all match up with the specific donor. Accidentally leaving in the name of a different donor is a big mistake.
Make sure the writing is clear and well-organized
Make sure each idea flows to the next without any gaps to make sure the donor understands the purpose. Keep the writing simple, and define any acronym, technical term or jargon that is used.
While writing, use active sentences
Our organization saved the lives of 100 children, NOT the lives of 100 children were saved by our organization). Active sentences are easy to understand and do a better job of engaging the reader.
Proposals do not have to be boring to read – all projects are interesting and explain really important work. The writing style should properly convey this to the reader.
Check for any writing inconsistencies
It is highly likely that some details of the project will change while writing. For example, maybe the expected number of beneficiaries changed from 150 to 100.
In this case, make sure the number was changed everywhere, including in the project summary, results, budget, logframe etc.
Similarly, be consistent in word choice. For example, if building school, do not alternatively refer to the school as an education center, teaching facility, classroom etc. Even if these are all synonyms, referring to the same thing using different names may confuse the donor.
Additionally, make sure the formatting is consistent throughout; if some paragraphs have a different font or some parts are formatted differently, it could signal to the donor that the proposal was just copy and paste work.
Check for any project inconsistencies
Make sure the same information is consistent throughout the activities, results, timeline, budget etc., and everything lines up. This is where a logframe is helpful. Do not list three activities in the timeline but four in the budget and only one activity in the M&E plan.
Format the proposal in a way that is clear and visually appealing.
While the content of the proposal is most important, the visual appearance of the proposal on paper can play a factor in decisions as well.
This includes making sure the text is easy to read: 1” margin, 1.5 spacing, 12pt. font, black ink on white paper, readable fonts like Times New Roman, Arial etc., are common settings. It is also often a good idea to use relevant images, charts, tables etc.
Sometimes, organizations like to design or decorate a proposal, even going as far as consulting graphic designers for this purpose.
While doing this can help make the proposal stand out and help brand the organization, sometimes this can also negatively detract from the readability of the proposal.
Think carefully about balancing what looks pretty to what is functional.