Is there an ideal proposal length?
Your proposal should be long enough to describe all the relevant details of the project and fulfill the donor’s application instructions. No more and no less.
If a proposal is too short, it may be lacking information the donor needs to make a funding decision. If a proposal is too long, the proposal is more likely to contain errors, contradictions, and also more difficult for the evaluator to find what they are looking for.
It is very difficult to give an exact figure for the size of a proposal because it varies from donor to donor and project to project. Proposals 10 to 20 pages in length are common, but some donors prefer to receive short concept notes, while others like USAID and the European Commission can request lengthy proposals that could run 50+ pages.
In open calls for proposals or requests for proposals, proposal guidelines including length are given by the donor. These guidelines usually have a limit on the length of the proposal and the application form to be used. Sometimes they require an initial short concept note followed by a longer proposal. Carefully read and follow these guidelines.
In submitting unsolicited proposals or directly approaching a donor for funding, it is often best to prepare a letter of inquiry or short concept note of not more than 2 to 3 pages. Use this short summary to peak the donor’s interest, hopefully leading to further conversations and an invitation to submit a full proposal.