• Sponsored Programs Office

  • Writing a Proposal

    When writing a federal grant you are encouraged to contact the program officer for the program for clarification of RFP.  Many will allow you to send a draft of your proposal for them to review and comment.
     
    The quality of a written proposal is the principal determinant of success in grant seeking.  When a proposal is written in response to guidelines issued by a funding agency, those guidelines should be followed to the letter. In other cases, grant requests will ordinarily have the following basic sections:  
     
    1. Cover/Title Page - A descriptive title for your project/program, your name, title, University department, the name of the grant agency from which you are seeking funds, and the date of proposal submission.
     
    2. Abstract - In one or two brief paragraphs, summarize the main features of your proposal. Be sure to mention the amount being requested and, if different, the total cost of the proposed project.
     
    3. Table of Contents - Unless your proposal is very brief (under 5 pages), supply a table of contents.
     
    4.  The Statement of Opportunity - Why is your project worth doing?  According to whom?   
    Why is it important to do now? What special opportunities are you addressing? What evidence supports your claims?
     
    5. Outcomes/Objectives - What will be the specific outcomes/objectives of your effort? Specify these outcomes in terms of observable and, if possible, measurable changes or impacts on target groups.   

    6. Procedures/Activities/Methodology - Explain the means by which you plan to attain your outcomes/objectives. For each objective you must have at least one (and often more than one) specific activity you will pursue. Specify project staff division of labor, if possible.
     
    7. Schedule - What will happen when?
     
    8. Staff Qualifications - Who will be responsible for what? What are the staff members' qualifications? Vita(e) should be attached.
     
    9. Evaluation - By what criteria (standards) will your project be measured? By whom?  At what intervals? By what instruments and methods?
     
    10. Budget and Budget Narrative - Line items typically include: staff salaries and fringe benefits , equipment purchase and rental, consumable supplies, phone, printing and copying, travel and consultants.  Many grantors have restrictions what can be funded with their funds.  Read the proposal guidelines carefully for compliance.  Indirect fees are accesses at the current federally negotiated rate on all proposals unless strictly prohibited or limited by the grantor.  Contact the Sponsored Program Office for help in determining the appropriate application of indirect fees.

    11. Project Continuation - What will happen when the grant runs out?  If the initiative it to continue, explain how it will be funded.

    The best grant proposals:

    • addressed to a sympathetic but uninformed audience   
    • follow funding agency guidelines exactly   
    • tightly written, without grammatical or spelling errors   
    • avoid jargon and acronyms, and provide a glossary of terms
    • are realistic about what can be accomplished  
    • clearly link project methods to project objectives  
    • clearly explain the context of related work done by others  
    • clearly explain why a project is worth doing now  
    • include a detailed timeline of key project events  
    • detail the qualifications of project staff  
    • clearly explain how the project will be evaluated  
    • provide detailed and realistic budgets  
    • explain what will happen when the grant money runs out 
        

    The Sponsored Programs Office will work closely with the PI to ensure all documents are in final edition and formatted as required by proposal.  All funding proposals are submitted through the Sponsored Programs Office.