Project Proposal Examples: Your Guide to Success

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By Tyra Delos Reyes

Ever found yourself stuck on how to pitch a project or secure funding for that next big idea? We’ve got you covered. 

At Proposally, our mission (cheesy, but true) is to help freelancers and business owners close more deals. 

In this article, we rounded up six examples of accepted and successful project proposals for research, business, and non-profit projects. Let’s take a look at what these project proposals have in common, and how you can increase your conversions too. 

What makes a good project proposal? 

Although there are different ways to approach a project proposal depending on the use case, there are two key foundational principles that winning proposals stand on: 

You have a clear idea of who your stakeholder is

You’ll consistently get advice that good writing is all about tailoring your proposal to the reader. But do you really know who that is? 

A paper published in the Project Management Institute encourages project owners to conduct a stakeholder analysis. The goal is to clearly identify decision-makers and get a complete understanding of their needs and sentiments. 

In the context of writing a project proposal, that means knowing who your primary decision-maker is going to be, and understanding what will get them to say yes. 

Each person on a team cares about different things. A Marketing Head won’t care about the same thing as a Customer Support Lead. Identifying your stakeholder means narrowing down the message of your proposal so it speaks directly to the decision-maker’s KPIs, friction points, and objectives. 

So how do you identify who your “target audience” is? 

  • Simply ask the client who is going to be their primary decision maker 
  • Ask about their KPIs (key performance indicators) to see if there are cross-functional influences in the decision-making process 
  • Look into their history of approving projects; who is usually acting as the liaison? 

You talk about the cost of inaction

When making a business case, sales author and CEO Julie Thomas says the cost of inaction (COI) can be just as compelling as return on investment (ROI). 

The cost of inaction helps frame the urgency and necessity of your project. This involves identifying potential risks, missed opportunities, and negative outcomes that might occur if the project is not undertaken.

When decision-makers grasp the immediate and long-term consequences of not moving forward with the project, they’re more likely to prioritize it. 

This sense of urgency can be just the push needed to move a project from the “thinking about it” stage to the “let’s do it” stage.

6 successful project proposal examples 

In these examples, you’ll find a variety of designs and formats, each tailored to different types of projects. 

Some of the examples below are templates, but majority of them are actual examples of proposals that have been accepted by approval bodies such as research institutions and funders. 

Business project proposal examples 

Editable project proposal template

This editable project proposal template from Venngage is a great boilerplate for high-level projects. There is a dedicated project objectives section where you can highlight the project narrative. The risk management and mitigation section is great for de-risking more complicated projects. 

Source: Venngage

Sections covered: 

  • Project objectives
  • Resources and budget
  • Project timeline
  • Key project milestones
  • Risk management and mitigation 

Freelance project proposal sample 

This project proposal is perfect for freelancers. It has a dedicated timeline and deliverables section, which makes it easier to set expectations with clients. 

You can also replace the content in the portfolio and qualifications section, which is crucial for freelancer proposals, to show your previous work and demonstrate your expertise. 

Source: Venngage

Sections covered: 

  • Project scope and deliverables
  • Methodology and approach
  • Timeline and milestones
  • Portfolio and qualifications 
  • Budget and pricing 

Learn more

Grant project proposal examples 

Expanding Access to Urban Growing Space and Agricultural Trainings

Source: Grant Station

Here’s a sample project proposal for a community initiative. KNOX’s community grant proposal to Hartford outlines their comprehensive project aimed at improving fresh food access. This initiative includes agricultural training, urban farming, and environmental education programs.

Sections covered: 

  • Project abstract
  • Project narrative
  • Project goals and intended outcomes 
  • Work plan and activities 
  • Project timeline
  • Measurement of milestones
  • Budget forecast 
  • Comprehensive budget narrative

SWB Nicaragua Education & Leadership Program

The organization Soccer Without Borders submitted this proposal to the Together Women Rise foundation for a two-year soccer program dedicated to underserved youth in Nicaragua.

Source: Grant Station

Sections covered: 

  • Organization information 
  • Project narrative
  • Expected outcomes
  • Methods
  • Timeline of activities
  • Evaluation plan 
  • Sustainability and future support 
  • Project budget narrative 
  • Project summary 

Learn more

Non-profit project proposal examples

New Mobile Medical Clinic Providing Access to Healthcare To the Uninsured Populations In Charlotte County

The non-profit organization Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic, Inc. (VBA) submitted this proposal for a 33-foot mobile medical coach bus to serve high-need areas in Charlotte County. 

Source: Grant Station

Sections covered: 

  • Abstract
  • Introduction 
  • Needs statement 
  • Goals and objectives
  • Partners and funding sources 
  • Logistical concerns 
  • Evaluating impact 
  • Project description 
  • Breakdown of marketing plan 
  • Key personnel and operations structure 

Crisis Relief Loan

The Capital Good Fund submitted this proposal to refinance their existing project, the Crisis Relief Loan, which seeks to mitigate the long-term effects of COVID-19 on vulnerable families in Texas, particularly those led by BIPOC, immigrant, and female heads of households.

Source: Grant Station

Sections covered: 

  • Organization background 
  • Program overview
  • The need
  • About the project 
  • Target population
  • Goals and objectives 
  • Major events and project activities
  • Outcomes and measures of success
  • Partnerships and collaboration 
  • Sustainability
  • Previous funding
  • Conclusion 
  • Budget narrative 

What do these accepted proposals have in common? 

These accepted proposals won because they spoke directly to their target audience’s needs and addressed the cost of inaction. 

Here are other things you can mimic in your own proposal to increase your chances of converting:  

  1. They provide a clear framework for the need. The proposals provided a detailed explanation of the urgency and importance of the project. By describing the population that will be affected and quantifying the impact, they effectively highlight the cost of inaction.
  2. They specify methods for measuring success and impact. They outline specific metrics and evaluation methods to track the project’s success and impact. This ensures transparency and accountability throughout the project’s duration.
  3. The project activities and jobs-to-be-done are clear. The project activities are clearly defined, outlining key tasks and objectives to be accomplished. This clarity ensures that all stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities.
  4. They establish the project owner’s credibility The project owners build credibility by showcasing their partnerships and previous successful projects. They also appeal to the reader’s needs and sentiments, establishing trust and reliability.
  5. They address the risks of the project. They identify potential risks associated with the project and provide dedicated strategies for mitigating these challenges. This proactive approach ensures that risks are managed effectively to ensure project success.

What is a project proposal? 

A project proposal is a detailed document that outlines a project’s objectives, scope, and approach. It serves as a blueprint for what needs to be accomplished, explaining why the project is necessary and how it will be executed. 

How do I write a project proposal? 

A project proposal typically has the following sections:

  1. Introduction/Executive summary: What’s the project about? This is your quick overview to grab interest right away. You can read our in-depth guide on how to write an effective executive summary.
  2. Project objectives: What are you aiming to achieve? List out your specific, measurable goals.
  3. Scope of work: What tasks and deliverables are included? Outline what needs to be done and what’s not part of the project.
  4. Process and approach: How will you achieve these objectives? Describe the approach and techniques you’ll use.
  5. Timeline and Milestones: When will the key parts of the project be completed? Provide a schedule with important deadlines.
  6. Budget: How much will it cost? Break down the financial requirements clearly.
  7. Risk management: What could go wrong, and how will you handle it? Identify potential risks and how you plan to manage them.
  8. Project benefits and impact: What benefits do you expect? Explain the project’s value and impact.
  9. Key takeaways: What should everyone remember? Summarize the key points and make a call for approval.

Learn more: Our in-depth article, How To Write A Project Proposal, will walk you through each section of a project proposal. You’ll have examples and simple instructions on how to draft your first project proposal, starting with the executive summary up until you wrap it up with your conclusion. 

How is a project proposal different from a project plan or project charter? 

You might be thinking, “They basically sound the same, so it doesn’t matter what I end up submitting, right?” Actually, it does matter, and here’s why:

A project proposal is all about making the case for your project. It’s your pitch to stakeholders, aiming to secure approval and resources. 

The proposal dives deep into the specifics, explaining the project’s objectives, scope, benefits, and the processes/tools you’ll use. It’s comprehensive and persuasive, with the ultimate goal of convincing decision-makers that your project is worth pursuing.

On the other hand, a project charter is a formal document that authorizes the project. Think of the charter as a green light – it’s the official sign-off that allows the project to proceed. It doesn’t delve into the nitty-gritty details but establishes the project’s framework and gives it a clear starting point.

Then there’s the project plan, which comes into play after your project is approved. This document is all about execution. 

Here’s a quick summary of what makes them different from each other: 

Project ProposalProject PlanProject Charter
PurposeTo secure approval and resources for the projectTo outline detailed steps and resources for executing the projectTo formally authorize the project and outline key details
FormatDetailed document with objectives, scope, approach, timeline, and budgetDetailed document with task breakdown, schedule, resources, and milestonesHigh-level document with purpose, key stakeholders, and main deliverables
AudienceStakeholders, decision-makers, and sponsorsProject team and managersStakeholders, sponsors, and project team
When it’s sentDuring the initiation phase to seek approvalAfter approval, during the planning phaseAt the project’s inception to authorize and outline the project

While they might seem similar at a glance, each document has a distinct purpose and audience. Submitting the correct one is crucial for ensuring your project is well-supported, properly authorized, and effectively managed.

5 free project proposal templates 

Still not sure how to get started? Zapier has 18 free project proposal templates for various use cases. Here are some of our personal favorites: 

Template 1: Marketing project proposal 

Although all proposals have a common foundation, this template is specifically designed to address the key elements for a marketing team. It includes a summary of the team, their services, the anticipated impact of the project, and a breakdown of the necessary tools, software, and costs.

Template 2: Event project proposal 

This template is versatile and can be adapted to fit events of any size. A well-organized event relies on a detailed plan that includes the event’s goals, venue possibilities, budget allocation, strategies, and backup plans. 

Template 3: Software development project proposal 

This template prioritizes showcasing previous experiences and successful projects, vital for software development promotion. It provides a comprehensive overview of the project scope, functionalities, development phases, estimated timeline, budget, and includes illustrative case studies.

Template 4: HR training project proposal 

This template is ideal for detailing initiatives like hiring plans, professional development programs, employee perks, or policy updates. It centers on HR goals, approaches, execution plans, and financial distribution.

Template 5: Education project proposal 

This template is perfect for laying out plans for educational projects, curriculum updates, or program enhancements. It zeroes in on your educational goals, teaching methods, resource distribution, budget estimates, and how you’ll measure success.

Get access to free project proposal templates 

At Proposally, our goal is to help businesses and freelancers win, at scale. 

Our all-in-one proposal software makes it super easy for any business owner to create, customize, send, and track project proposals.

Proposally has a library of over 1,000+ proposal templates for different types of projects with prepopulated text observing best practices for that industry. All you have to do is customize the content with custom variables and you’re ready to send out a proposal in minutes. 

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