You’ve got your cover letter drafted. Next you need to write a project understanding.
Let’s be frank. You want something. That’s why you are submitting a proposal. You are asking someone for something, most likely money in exchange for something.
But in the Project Understanding, we are going to forget what we want and focus entirely on the person (or people) we are submitting this proposal to.
What is their current situation? What challenges are they dealing with? How does this affect them? How will their situation improve once they’ve chosen to give you what you want?
Remember, this is about them, not about you.
The Ouch Button
First, we are going to push what’s known as the “ouch button.” We are going to remind them the pain they or the people they serve experience.
For example, if their building is falling apart and you are proposing to fix this, you’ll write about any concerns they might have about safety. Maybe the building doesn’t provide the facilities they need to operate efficiently.
Maybe you are proposing to design a new community center. In this case you might want to write about the local children or seniors who have no place to go. They are left to sit at home by their lonesome.
Help them feel the pain of the problems their situation presents. But always keep this next point in mind.
It’s Not Their Fault
You never want to tell the person you are proposing to, or even infer, they did something wrong. Remember, it’s not their fault!
Even if they failed to keep up with the property and it’s now a hazard to the community, it’s not their fault.
I can’t emphasize this enough. The person you are proposing to is never the villain. They are always the hero. They are the person who has the power the make things better.
After you describe the current situation, you have to create contrast. What would the situation look like if it were fixed?
How many more customers could they get if they redesigned their website? What would the children’s reaction be if they built that community center? How would a better designed facility or a software solution make their life easier?
Write that down next.
Just to “hit it home,” it may also be helpful to summarize your project understanding by highlighting a few key points.