Write a great proposal for social change

Jurek Sikorski, a mentor for our student Henley Challenge competition, shares his tips for creating a strong proposal for the competition and answering the theme question:

‘Social change…business gain
How can your sector or field contribute to creating a better society for all and still meet shareholder demands?’


A well written proposal will improve your chances of reaching the final of the Henley Challenge. So how do you write a great proposal on the theme of social change to convince the judges?

There are five basic steps:

1: Make a strong introduction and capture the attention of judges with a statement that fires the imagination.

For example if you are looking to bring focus on a social issue like homelessness then start with a statement like, ‘imagine if we were to solve homelessness in our cities, that would be a massive social change’.

2: Define the problem.

  • Describe the causes of the problem and what impact the problem has on society.
  • Address the question of why this problem needs to be solved.
  • Be sure to validate with data drawn from research.

For example you might say, ‘the number of homeless in England has risen for 5 years in a row with an estimated 250,000 people a year now affected in England’.

3: Put forward your solution to the problem.

  • This is arguably the most important part of the proposal.
  • Include how, where and why you would deliver the solution.


For example your solution might be ‘have companies donate a small percentage of their profits to local homelessness charities which are used to rent shelters or build homelessness communes, leveraging companies’ social conscience’.


4: Set out a timetable and financial budget, including sourcing the money.

  • In preparing your budget, think of it as a pitch for investment.
  • What you want to do is convince the judges that this is a good investment so be sure to provide solid and detailed financial information.

5: Draft a conclusion that summarises the benefits of adopting your proposal.

  • Specifically, mention how the benefits will outweigh the costs.

And don’t forget:

Make your proposal the best it can be by having someone else review and edit it to make it clear and concise and free of errors.

A number of academics, including myself, are offering mentoring support to entrants. See the Henley Challenge webpage for more details on who we are, how to contact us, and the drop-in support session on Monday 16 January.

Jurek Sikorski

Henley Challenge Mentor
Executive Director of Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship
Founder of Henley Business Angels

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