How to Write a Proposal to MAKE CHANGE!

Early last fall, I shared on my Instagram stories how I got period product dispensers in all 13 branches of my county’s library. I did this by sending an email proposal to three members of the library’s executive board and working with them to fight period poverty in my community. Many of you requested a blog post on it, but schoolwork was not giving me the time to create a comprehensive guide like I wanted to. However, today’s the day!

I finally sat down and wrote a 6 Step Guide for Writing a Proposal that can help YOU make the change you want in your community. In this post, you’ll find tips on researching your issue, crafting the proposal, what to do after you’ve shared the proposal, and a FREE proposal template. Share this with your friends who want to make change too! Feel free to comment below or DM me on Instagram (@absolutelyolivia) with any questions you may have. I want to help you start your own project for change. We’re in this together ❤

1. FIND AN ISSUE

First things first, find something that needs changing! The more personal it is to you and your values, the more motivated you’ll be to give your all to the project. Start with a broader issue and then scale down to a sub-issue. For example, gender equity has always been an important issue to me. By extension, menstrual health was an issue I had written on before and I had even interviewed Chelsea, the founder of Happy Period and Nadia Okamato, the co-founder of Period. So, I decided to work on reducing the problems that come along with period poverty in my area.

The issue can be anything you want. I found it easiest to start with something I knew I could work on from a local, grassroots and point, but if you want to pursue change at the state or national level, go for it! So many others have done it and so can you!

2. RESEARCH!

Gather as many facts and information on the issue you are aiming to change. The more educated you are, the better you can affect change. Before I began drafting my email, I researched every statistic and material that would be necessary to get period product dispensers into the branches of my county library. For stats, I found credible organizations that revolved around fighting period poverty and found the stats they share that related most to my project. For materials, I researched types of period product dispensers, companies that sell them, restock sellers, and once I found the best options, researched them even more.

Also, make sure to gather information on the persons or organizations you are reaching out to about your issue. A good place to start is by finding their mission statement, list of core values, etc. Connecting back to a mission statement or something similar in your email can add to your persuasive affect and show that you genuinely care about what you are aiming to change. One of my library’s core values was providing equitable resources to all, so I touched on this in my proposal. Also, my local public library is a huge resource and place of work/study for those below the poverty line in my community, so I also touched on the importance of providing period products to help out those who could not afford their own. 

Lastly, research and make a potential budget of the project. Do not include the budget in your first email, unless it helps your case. But a budget can give you a good idea of how intensive the project might be and is a good thing to keep in mind. Plus, if you are asked to help with the project later down the line, this is something you could bring up to show your preparedness and readiness to get the project done. 

For budget, I started by researching the organization I was reaching out to (the library) and going through their annual financial reports to see if this project was something they a) had the money for and b) would spend money on. In my case, I found that the library had more than enough money to spend on a project like this and would most likely be willing to as well. Regardless of whether you find this to be true for your own project, it is your job to show the people you reach out to that there is a demand for the change you want to make and a good reason to make the change.

Continuing with budget, here’s a breakdown of my creating-a-budget process: 

 – each dispenser costs around $350 

-there are 16 bathrooms in all 13 branches of my local library combined

-$350 x 16 = $5,600

-Annual restock per menstruater is $5-$7

-Annual restock per branch is $2,500-$3,500 (maybe less)

-First year budget: dispensers + restock = $38,100-$51,100

-Second year and so on budget: restock = $32,500-$45,500

Keep in mind these figures assume the library would pay completely out of their own pocket and not apply for grants or have some of the supplies donated to them and both would most likely occur.

Educating yourself on the issue you’re seeking to change, the organization/person you’re asking to lead the change, and the budget needed for the change is crucial to the change-making process. 

3. CRAFT A PROPOSAL

Creating a proposal is arguably the more difficult part, but if you did your research, it’s not too bad. I will say that it did take the most focus to complete. The way you write proposals will vary depending on your issue and the change you are trying to make. If you’re proposing a legislative change, your proposal will be formal and focus more on specific policy changes directed towards lawmakers. Personally, I have not gone through this process, but I click HERE for more information on legislation proposals. However, if you’re proposing a change to an organization, school, event, etc., your proposal as room to be more informal and will focus on solutions to the problem.

Regardless of the type of proposal you are drafting, the vital questions you need to address are:

-Who are you?

    Introduce yourself! Let them know who you are, what you do, and why you’re choosing to reach out to them.

-Why should the change be made and why should they care? 

    Most important!! This is where you can include statistics relating to your issue (always cite and hyperlink to your sources), personal anecdotes from you or others affected by the issue, and relate back to the person the proposal is addressed too. What does this issue have to do with the organization, school, event, etc? Use mission statements or the reader’s values to tell them why they should care.

-How can the problem be solved?

    Discuss an exact, actionable plan to solve the issue. This does not have to be the final and official way the issue is addressed, but it is good to show that you have thought the issue through. It also let’s the reader know right off the bat that the issue IS solvable, so there is no reason they should avoid changing it. This is also where you can mention the finances (budget, grants, aid, etc.), IF it helps your case. 

-What will you do to help enact the change?

    Let them know what parts of the change you are willing to help out with. Offer to set up a phone call or meeting with them to discuss the issue further. They may not request your help, but letting them know you’re willing to help in any way possible shows the importance of this issue to you. It also lets them know you’re not going to let this issue escape your sight without changing 🙂

Keep your final email proposal between 300-500 words. Below is the email I sent to my local library about adding period product dispensers into their bathrooms.

4. SEND THE EMAIL

Now that you’ve wrote your proposal, it’s time to send it out! Make sure you are sending it to the person who could help influence and organize this change the best. When it came time for me to send out my proposal, I chose to send it to the Chief Program and Innovation Officer, the Projects and Planning Director, and the Community Relations Director. If you are not sure who is best to reach out to, send the email to multiple people like I did.

Check to make sure all your hyperlinks from your proposal draft are working and attach supplemental documents/links from credible sources that may discuss your cause further. Sign off with your name, age, and add your phone number if that’s a way you would like to be able to reach you. Then, press send! You’ve gotten through the hard part!

5. FOLLOW UP AND FOLLOW THROUGH

If it’s been a few days and you haven’t heard back, send a follow up email that says something along the lines of, “Hi! I sent an email regarding _______, just checking to see if you have received it. Thanks!” Change does not occur without pressure, so this is not an awkward thing to do. If a few weeks go by, give them a call instead or go visit them in person.

If you hear back within a reasonable time, make sure to respond. You have their attention, so do what you need to in order to push the cause further. If they agree that a change needs to be made, continue to email and work with them throughout every step. If they respond vaguely and/or it sounds like they are not going to work to solve the issue, apply strategic pressure. Think about new ways you can convince them the change needs to be made. This could be done through a petition, a more in-depth proposal, a face-to-face meeting, etc. Be strategic and assertive.

Also, once they implement the change, keep up with the project and how they’re doing it. Make sure change is ACTUALLY being made and that it isn’t just a cheap front that looks like real change. Again, change does not always happen without external pressure.

6. BE PROUD AND KEEP WORKING!

Once the change has been made, celebrate! You helped enact this and made the world better by doing so. You deserve to take pride in this accomplishment. 

Now that you know the steps and have done it yourself, it’s easier to tackle more projects like this. Brainstorm a new area that needs change and start working towards it. I decided to continue my work in period equity. As a leader of my Feminist Club at school, my friends and I worked to get period products into our school bathrooms. We do not have a permanent solution yet, but set up baskets in the main bathrooms and restocked them with menstrual products every week. I’m currently working on a larger, more formal proposal to take to my school’s PTSO for a permanent fix.

Alrighty, there’s my 6 step guide for creating change in your community! Above is a graphic that you can repost and share to your liking. Like I said before, feel free to comment here or DM me on Instagram (@absolutelyolivia) with any questions you may have. I want to help you start your own project for change. We’re in this together ❤ Thanks for reading and share with other change makers you know!

Love, Olivia

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