A Sample Proposal . . .
In the event you would find it helpful to look at a sample, short, unsolicited proposal, here is one I wrote up quickly. The product mentioned in this proposal exists, though I don't have any plans to purchase the software for the Writing Center. I have written the proposal as though I were intending to purchase the software and with my department chairperson in mind.
Before writing the proposal I conducted a very simple survey of the rhetorical situation. For this short proposal, assuming it was meant to be implemented, the only reader would be my department chair. Before beginning to write, I tried to consider what he would want to know. As department chair he is naturally concerned about how department money is spent, and he will want to know not only how much this proposal will cost and where the money will come from, but also why the project is necessary and whether the resources necessary to implement the proposal exist.
I wrote the proposal with these elements in mind. I tried to identity the document as a proposal in the heading material, and I was careful to provide a summary of the document's contents. Perhaps the initial summary will be sufficient and he will approve the proposal without need of further details.
Assuming, however, that he will want to know why the purchase is necessary, I've provided a background to the problem, and I've stated the problem in such a way as to make it operational (that is, to suggest what can be done about the problem). In addition, I've attempted to anticipate other questions he will ask (how much? who's going to help you set it up? What will you do if you have problems?), and to make it as easy as possible for him to find the answers to these questions by providing him with clear headings.
Now, here is my sample:
THE WRITING CENTER
English Department Chair
Writing Center Director
The following document contains a proposal for the purchase of tracking software which will allow the Andrews University Writing Center to improve the efficiency of its statistical record keeping and increase its ability to provide relevant and useful information about Writing Center Operations.
In order to assess its effectiveness in meeting the writing needs of Andrews University students, the Andrews University Writing Center keeps statistical records of all clients who visit the center. When the Writing Center began operations thirteen years ago, all statistics were collected and recorded by Academic Support and Advising Services personnel who kept records of the service activities of all university learning laboratories (reading, math, learning, and writing centers). When Academic Support and Advising Services personnel discontinued the collection and distribution of center statistics, the Writing Center became responsible for recording and storing its own statistics. We accomplished this fact using Quattro Pro, a spread sheet available in the Corel Office suite. Quattro Pro has helped the Writing Center keep track of its activities effectively; however, the spread sheet is difficult to learn and must be revised at the beginning of each new semester.
Several new software products designed specifically for tracking activities in writing centers have been developed and are now available. These promise to streamline the process of record keeping and make records more immediately available for distribution and analysis from a platform which is easier to learn and use. The Writing Center proposes to purchase software specifically designed for tracking writing center activities.
The Writing Center proposes to purchase on a trial basis ACCU-TRACK, a soft ware package produced by Writing Lab Resources located in Orlando, FL. Based on my discussions with developer Edith Beyers, a software representative employed by Writing Lab Resources, I believe this soft ware package promises to improve the way the Writing Center keeps records of who its clients are, when they visit the Writing Center, and what services they employ.
ACCU-TRACK is available for $198.95 (plus $14.95 s/h). The purchase cost of this soft ware will be taken from Writing Center equipment money (line 11-0321-9567-23) which has sufficient funds to cover the purchase price. The software comes with a guarantee that if it fails to serve the Writing Center's needs, Writing Lab Resources will refund the full purchase price minus the cost of shipping and handling.
Edith Byers assures me that ACCU-TRACK comes with complete installation and operating instructions. Adrienne, our graduate student supervisor, has previewed a trial version of ACCU-TRACK which the company provides on-line and indicates that it will be relatively easy to install and operate. She feels that she will be capable of doing the installation and will prepare operating instructions and conduct work-shops to train the Writing Center consultants to use the program.
Edith Beyers assures me that she will be available by telephone at any time during normal business hours (and by e-mail at other times) to help us with any problems we may encounter during installation and set up of the software.
Before I can initiate the purchase of ACCU-TRACK, I will need your signature on the purchase order (PO#35467) which I am attaching to this proposal. Assuming you approve of this purchase, please return the signed purchase order to me and I will proceed. If you wish to discuss this issue further, I'll be happy to talk with you whenever you find it convenient.