Get to Know Your Funder

Conduct thorough research to learn more about the funder's program priorities and the kinds of projects they fund and which have been funded previously. Determine how much they will invest in your project; again look to past funding received by others – which can be found on the 990s or the Foundation Online Directory. Identify budget requirements and whether or not the funding is for one or more years. Get to know the funder's program officer or key contact person. You will need his or her help to determine whether your project is a good fit for their organization and to answer questions that you may have as you develop your proposal.

In a Request for Proposal (RFP), a Request for Quote (RFQ), or a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), guidelines can be very detailed with specific forms accompanying the proposal text. Within the guidelines you will find instructions providing guidance on things such as page limits and/or length, typography size and/or font, title length and supporting documents that are required.

Grant Officers Can Help

As part of the support provided, we encourage all Primary Investigators (PIs)/Project Leads to forward the link to the RFP/RFQ/FOA, and we can assist in summarizing and outlining the key areas of the guidelines that must be addressed in your proposal.

Typical Proposals Include

  • Cover Page. This should always accompany your proposal. It should include the signatures of the Primary Investigator and University Authorized Official and contain items such as proposal title, PI name, submitting College(s), Department(s), Centers or Institute, total funds requested and period of performance. Always identify a problem, need or gap in services for the project you want to perform.

  • Page Format. It is essential to adhere to the funder’s formatting standards. Page numbers are essential. A Table of Contents can also help the reviewers navigate a proposal.

  • Abstract. An abstract accompanying the proposal should be concise and complete. Funders often use abstracts in their annual reports. Your abstract should summarize the purpose, scope and methods used to arrive at the reported study. It is a slightly expanded table of contents in sentence and paragraph form.

  • Proposal Contents. The following should be contained in the contents of the proposal.

  1. Summary Page (statement of the project goals & objectives)
  2. Project Description
  3. References
  4. Biographical Sketch
  5. Budget
  6. Budget Justification
  7. Current and Pending Support
  • Budget Justification. The Budget Justification should include all supporting information for all budget categories, including an explanation of the need for unusual or large expenses such as personnel, equipment, travel or facility use. For all personnel, the University requires that a 35% fringe be charged. If this is not allowed by the funder, this will need to be approved by the department chair, dean or director and paid for out of their budget pool. For guidance concerning the application of fringe benefits, student salaries, or Facilities and Administrative (FandA) rates consult the grant officers.