The Development Source
On a Linkedin site devoted to the art, science, and frustrations of proposal management, Elizabeth Zelman had the audacity to ask the question you see posed above. Of course, she received a barrage of responses, some brief and some very lengthy.
These responses provide what I consider to be an excellent guide to the kinds of problems and challenges Proposal Managers are likely to encounter. Although these comments came from proposal professionals in the private sector, I think that they apply to nonprofit grant proposals as well.
In no particular order of importance, here is a summary of the litany of complaints:
In a small business, finding the resources to do a good proposal is difficult. Often, there is not a full-time Proposal Manager but someone who is doing many other things in addition to proposals.
Sometimes contributors stubbornly refuse to take advice.
Sometimes proposal writers do not write clearly, concisely, and correctly and use too many big words, often incorrectly.
Herding the cats.
Pushing that string up a hill.
Many proposal teams do not organize their review teams well. As a result, the proposal reviews are not helpful.
Proposals cannot be written in someone’s spare moments. Personnel on the proposal team must be relieved of their regular duties and not wear two hats.
The lack of leadership and support by senior management.
Poor kick-off meetings that neither inform nor inspire.
Lack of buy-in from key stakeholders.
Getting the price wrong.
Not knowing your customer or audience.
Not engaging with your capture and bid team.
Avoid these complaints and you are likely to live a long life and produce great proposals.