Crafting a Good Proposal
Crafting a Good Proposal by Catherine Kettrick Well-crafted proposals are essential for a well-run meeting. A poorly crafted proposal will raise questions the group can‟t answer, for lack of information, and can result in “spinning”—discussing the same thing over and over and getting no where because you have no where to go. A well-crafted proposal will have a clear title, including stating briefly what the proposal will do, and what purpose it will serve. (While it is not absolutely necessary that a proposal have a purpose, it provides a starting point for the Level I discussion and gives members a brief reason why the proposal makers think it is a good idea). The proposal will provide details on exactly how the proposal will work and also include any relevant background information. Here are some examples. Clear title A clear proposal title will have the following form: That (name of organization) do ______________ for (purpose). For example: That WSRID develop a web page to provide the public with information about the interpreting profession; interpreters with information relevant to their work; and a forum for discussing issues related to interpreting. Or: That WSRID pro-rate dues for certified interpreters who join during the year to encourage people to join WSRID mid-year. Or: That WSRID develop a refund policy for workshops and conferences to provide members with a consistent response to refund requests and to be in compliance with RID. Details on how the proposal will work When crafting a proposal you want to be as specific as possible about its details. Think of all the questions someone might ask about the proposal and answer them by providing details—e.g. cost, time frame, who will do it, how it may affect the organization, etc. The most 2 important part of details is—details. Don‟t agonize over them (“Should the refund policy say „no refunds 10 days prior to the workshop or 15 days prior?‟ Should it be days or business days???”) Just put down what you think is a good choice, and trust that the group will change it for the better. A clear choice (“no refunds 15 days prior to the workshop”) is very easy to change. No choice (“We weren‟t sure what people would want, so we left it blank”) will only result in endless discussions about what to do. Relevant background information and rationale Relevant background information can vary but will typically include the origin of the idea, and any history or work related to the proposal. Remember that the members of the group have not gone through the discussions you have gone through in crafting the proposal; what seems obvious to you may not be to them. When in doubt include more information rather than less. When people have the full context, they can more easily understand the proposal. The rationale should give all the reasons you think the proposal will help the organization. If you know of any concerns with the proposal you can include them here. Here is an example of background information and rationale that might go with the proposal to pro-rate dues: Background information: Requests for pro-rating dues have come up before from members, but the Board has not made any formal decision about it. We need to formally decide whether or not we will do it. Rationale: We are an organization that supports interpreters. Pro- rating dues for the first year is a welcoming gesture that will encourage people to join any time during the year. They will gain member benefits, and WSRID will gain their knowledge and skills all the sooner. One concern is that the membership forms will have to be re-done and someone will have to do that. But they are printed on an “as needed” basis, so we don‟t have a lot of them to use up first.