An Executive Summary must be compelling and persuasive, as it introduces your narrative and provides a roadmap for reviewers. If it isn’t, reviewers will likely not pay much attention to the rest of your proposal.
Writers of good Executive Summaries avoid four common mistakes:
#1: Poorly written Executive Summaries very often begin with some flowery language about how pleased you are to submit this terrific proposal, and how you look forward to its review. These summaries tend to be very general, contain far too much marketing hype about the wonderfulness of your organization, and usually don’t focus on the needs of the government agency.
#2: Hastily written Executive Summaries, especially those written at the last minute, do not allow for proper review and rewriting. You need time to think, polish, and refine. This cannot be done at 2 A.M. the morning of the proposal deadline.
#3: Not addressing how you plan to carry out the contract is THE major mistake. Your Executive Summary must answer two important questions: Why am I bidding? What am I offering the government agency? It is, of course, important to discuss the positive qualities and services of your organization, but not to the extent of glossing over what the gov’t agency really wants to know.
#4: Bad Executive Summaries are dry and boring, and suggest to the reviewer that there is more of the same in the rest of the proposal. Your Executive Summary is a short sales pitch. Your challenge is to hook your reviewers and engage them in the rest of your narrative. You do that by demonstrating, in a relatively few paragraphs, that you have something special to offer the government agency.
This “introduction” to your proposal is too important to treat lightly. A well written Executive Summary should get the proposal reviewer to want to read your entire proposal.
Dr. Jayme Sokolow, founder and president of The Development Source, Inc.,
helps nonprofit organizations develop successful proposals to government agencies. Contact Jayme Sokolow.