How to Write a Project Proposal (with Free Template)?

Whenever you want to present your ideas and give a pitch on why other people should support their implementation, you need to write a project proposal. Regardless of your valuable and innovative ideas, you won't be successful unless you present them well and convince your audience of their importance. So how do you write a project proposal that makes people acknowledge the power of your ideas and trust you to implement them?


  • What Is a Project Proposal?
  • Types of Project Proposals
  • How to Write a Project Proposal?
  • The Outline of a Project Proposal
  • The Project Proposal Template
  • Top Tips for Writing a Successful Project Proposal

What Is a Project Proposal?

A project proposal is a document that defines your ideas and ways to implement them clearly and concisely. The proposal explains the project in detail, from defining concepts and goals to how you plan to transform ideas into reality to how much money the project needs. It has a straightforward structure, a clear narrative line, and well-documented references.

In addition, a project proposal must convince the audience to support your ideas and plans. Therefore, you should always have the audience's interest in mind. Why would they care about your project? Why would they invest in your ideas? A professional project proposal follows a specific format. It details the key elements forming a complete proposal so that the involved parties know the ambition, goals, and plan to achieve it. We will discuss these elements in the outline section.

Types of Project Proposals

Project proposals may be helpful in many situations, from proposing a new project to your manager to asking for funds. Here are the main types of project proposals that may come your way:

  • New Project Proposal – It pitches a new project or idea to a manager, client, organization, or potential business partner. It may appear as a request from the audience, part of a competitive program, or unsolicited at your initiative. Internal or external stakeholders can request new projects. The new project can be:
    • Solicited: When you send a proposal as an RFP (Request For Proposal)
    • Unsolicited: When no one asked for your services
    • Informal: When a stakeholder asks you to review an opportunity informally.
  • Renewal Project Proposal – It pitches the renewal of an old project or collaboration. It may appear as a continuation of an existing project or a revival of an already-finished collaboration.
  • Continuation: In this situation, you will just post an update to an existing project
  • Supplemental – It pitches adding something new to an ongoing project. It may appear when the development of a project brings up new ideas or potential for extending the goals of the existing project. It doesn't necessarily extend the project's timeline but rather its activities and goals.

In addition, project proposals may be formal or informal, include fundraising or ask for investments, follow the strict procedure of a project competition, or include a particular call to action.

How to Write a Project Proposal?

Regardless of your project proposal type, you need a format that straightforwardly delivers all the information. The document should be easy to read and follow, allow going back and forth between chapters easily, and provide solid references. It also requires clear headings and summaries.

Although you may have plenty to say and explain, the project proposal shouldn't be overwhelmingly long. People tend to have short attention spans. Especially if the proposal is unsolicited, they don't want to spend hours reading it. Therefore, a smart structure with explanatory headings and constant summarizing may improve your success chances.

The tone should be formal and neutral, even for informal project proposals. It's an official document that doesn't require flowery or metaphoric language. Always keep the audience's interest in mind and try to answer their questions: 

  • What is the project's goal? 
  • What problem will it solve? 
  • What plan of action and timeline do you propose? 
  • What is the outcome of the project? 
  • How will it benefit the audience/investors/partners? 
  • How much will it cost, and who pays the bill?

Step 1: Define the Problem

Defining the problem clearly is crucial as it sets the foundation for the entire proposal. It helps stakeholders understand the purpose and significance of the project. By highlighting the problem, you create a sense of urgency and demonstrate the need for action.

Tips for Editing:

  • Ensure that the problem statement is concise and impactful, capturing the issue's essence.
  • Use data, facts, or evidence to support your claims and make the problem tangible.
  • Review the language used to ensure it resonates with the desired target audience and effectively conveys the situation.

Step 2: Present Your Solution

This step outlines how your project will address the problem identified in Step 1. It lets you showcase your expertise and demonstrate how your solution stands out from alternatives. Presenting a compelling solution increases the chances of obtaining support from decision-makers.

Tips for Editing:

  • Anticipate potential questions or objections and address them proactively within the proposal.
  • Use research-backed examples and case studies to substantiate the effectiveness of your solution.
  • Review the content to ensure a clear and persuasive articulation of why your solution is the best choice.

Step 3: Specify Your Deliverables and Expectations for Success

Clearly defining deliverables and success criteria provides a roadmap for the project. It enables stakeholders to understand what will be accomplished and how success will be measured. This step ensures alignment and clarity in project expectations.

Tips for Editing:

  • Include specific details about each deliverable and its expected outcome.
  • Ensure that success criteria are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound).
  • Review the deliverables and success criteria to ensure they align with the problem statement and solution presented.

Step 4: State Your Plan or Approach

This step outlines the methodology or approach you will use to execute the project. It demonstrates your understanding of the project's complexity, potential challenges, and risk mitigation strategies. A well-defined plan increases confidence in your ability to deliver results.

Tips for Editing:

  • Introduce project strategies and methodologies, explaining their relevance and effectiveness.
  • Clearly explain the roles and responsibilities of team members or stakeholders involved.
  • Review the content to ensure that potential problems are adequately addressed and mitigation strategies are included.

Step 5: Explain Your Project Schedule and Budget

The project schedule and budget provide stakeholders with a clear understanding of the project's timeline and financial requirements. A well-structured schedule and budget instill confidence that the project is feasible and well-planned.

Tips for Editing:

  • Provide a detailed breakdown of tasks, milestones, and timelines.
  • Ensure that the budget is comprehensive and includes all relevant costs, such as resources, materials, and overhead.
  • Review the schedule and budget to ensure they are practical, achievable, and in line with the project's objectives.

Step 6: Tie It All Together

This step summarizes the proposal's key points and reinforces the problem, solution, and benefits. It serves as a conclusion that leaves a lasting impression on the readers. Tying everything together ensures a cohesive and impactful proposal.

Tips for Editing:

  • Emphasize the significant parts of the proposal that you want stakeholders to remember.
  • Ensure consistency of ideas and arguments throughout the proposal.
  • Review the conclusion to ensure it effectively highlights the value proposition and leaves a strong impression.

Step 7: Edit/Proofread Your Proposal

Editing and proofreading are essential to ensure a polished and error-free proposal. A well-edited document demonstrates professionalism, attention to detail, and a commitment to quality.

Tips for Editing:

  • Check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors.
  • Review the tone and language to ensure it aligns with the intended audience.
  • Seek feedback from colleagues or stakeholders to gather different perspectives and improve the clarity and effectiveness of the proposal.

Remember to customize each process step to fit your specific project and audience. The editing tips aim to improve the overall quality of your proposal.

The Outline of a Project Proposal

A standard outline of a project proposal includes the following sections:

1. The Executive Summary

Start your proposal with an introductive summary that answers all the above questions in a few short phrases. The executive summary acts as a statement that clarifies the purpose of the project, the reasons for which it is necessary, who is the beneficiary, what is the project's outcome, budget, timeline, project analytic metrics, and involved resources.

Tip: If you're applying to an open project competition or grant, you might also want to write a cover letter for the project wherein 1 page, you state your ambition with the project and the potential collaboration.

2. Background

The second section showcases all the research made until the current moment. It explains in detail the purpose of the project and the reasons behind it, the current state-of-the-art in the project's field, who is working on similar topics and what results they have so far, and how the project's topic relates to your team, company, or organization. The background section should include relevant references, data, and statistics, either included in the document or provided as auxiliary material.

3. Solution

The third section is dedicated to practical solutions, planning and scheduling, and a managerial approach. It includes timelines, schedules, roles and responsibilities, analytic tools and metrics, risk management, and all there is to know about how you intend to implement the project. The solutions section clarifies what is already done and what needs to be done in every aspect of the project (e.g., technical, managerial, financial, etc.)

Tip: It is important to highlight the vision and objectives of your project. We do recommend using smart KPIs in this sense. By clarifying measurable KPIs, it will be easier to know when the project has delivered its promises successfully or is lagging in terms of execution. For complex projects, risk assessment together with mitigation strategies, are expected.

4. Outcome and Deliverables

Your audience needs to understand what will be achieved at the end of the project. The outcome and deliverables section presents the final objectives of the project, the timeline for intermediary deliverables, status reports, communication tools, and specific project outcomes. It also explains the nature of the deliverables (e.g., patents, articles, conferences, products, etc.) and how they will be delivered. If you have multiple deliverables or the project spans over a long period, you might want to highlight also specific milestones (i.e., after 3 months or after design elements are approved). It is very important that the duration of implementing each major action is clearly highlighted and correct.

Tip: If the project has multiple stakeholders, it is important to outline the responsible teams/members/organizations for each major action.

5. Resources / Budget

The resources section lists the requirements needed to implement the project, from manpower and budget to materials, time, buildings and installations, and software. It breaks down the budget to explain why each cost is necessary, lists existing resources and their implication, and provides a timeline for each resource. Here is your opportunity to mention that you need to hire more people (and in which position), acquire new software and hardware, or rent a larger office space. You need to clarify how the payment will work out in terms of billing. If it's an upfront payment, or after the work is done, or if it's split. 

Tip: While some of you use dedicated project management software that can generate timelines for you and the project partners, you might also use an excel made Gantt Chart to clarify the timeline actions.

Related: Budget Templates

7. Conclusion 

The last section summarizes your project proposal's content, reiterates the project's purpose and impact, and ends on a positive note. It may include a call to action, contact data, or additional information not yet presented. However, keep it short and on point.

Optionally you might need to have a separate section with References and annexes where you list all articles, documents, and information you've mentioned in the proposal. If you have the documents, provide access to a shared folder or attach them to an email. Otherwise, provide links to online resources.

Download A Simple Project Proposal Template Freely

You can use the same simple project proposal template for all your proposals because it's easy to customize. A basic template provides a solid format and helps you structure the information without worrying about fonts and styles. It also keeps you focused, so you don't forget anything. Download our free simple project proposal template and take the first step toward a successful proposal.

Project Proposal Template

Top Tips for Writing a Successful Project Proposal

Although it may seem overwhelming to write a project proposal, some tips can help you gain confidence. Take your time, thoroughly research, and trust your ideas and potential. Then, all that is left is to write a successful proposal. Check out the following tips to get you started:

  1. Clarify the project's goals, objectives, impact, and beneficiaries. And don't be vague.
  2. Focus on the executive summary, which is the section that makes the first impression. And sometimes, it is the only one your audience reads.
  3. Always consider what the audience needs from your project. It implies knowing your audience.
  4. Calculate costs and resources correctly and have good arguments for each of them.
  5. Give all relevant information but don't write a book. Keep it short and on point.
  6. Use new data, statistics, and references. Represent the data as clearly as possible, don't just use plain text; consider charts, tables, timelines, bullet points, etc. That's no point in citing an obsolete article.
  7. Spell proof, edit your document, and review the key elements (like costs, deadlines, and commitments) before sending it.
  8. Prepare defensive points for possible questions from the sponsor.


Writing project proposals may start with emailing your boss to propose using a new leave management app. It's a small objective, but it helps you understand how to format the proposal, write a statement, and support your idea with arguments and data. From that to sending project proposals to large organizations, potential clients, and much-needed investors is only a step. Successful project managers know it's important to know your audience, provide relevant information, and be honest and prepared to answer any questions. And remember that using a project proposal template gives you a significant advantage since you don’t have to start from zero.