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Creating the Proposal

Here are a few broad ideas as you start your proposal. Don’t hesitate to contact the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) if you would like assistance at any point in grant process.

Before you begin writing

  • Brainstorm
    • Start asking questions about your project:
    • Subject: what is this project about?
    • Purpose: Why is this project begin done? What is the problem or need being addressed? What are the project’s goals?
    • Activities: What will be done? What methods will be used? What will you need to make this project a success? How will you measure success? Who will be in charge of doing what and when?
    • Target Population: What special groups is being served or studied?
    • Location: Where is the work being performed?
    • Outcomes: What kind of findings will result?  To whom will these results be useful?

Talk about your project with other people for input and ideas. Touch base with colleagues, supervisors and administration about the possibility of securing grant funding for your project. Discover how your project relates to the priorities of your department, and the College.

Sponsor Analysis
Examine the guideline and do some preliminary research to understand as much as possible about the sponsor, doing so will increase your chances of successful funding. What does the sponsor care about? How can you explain your project in a way that stresses to the sponsor that you care about the same things? How will your project help solve these problems?

If the sponsor has a website, see if they provide sample proposals or grant writing tips. Review copies of successful proposals from past grant winners. Pay particular attention to their levels of organization, formatting and documentation. You might consider contacting the sponsor to clarify application requirements or answer questions you might have.

Sample questions might be:

  • Your organization funds both education and research projects. Do you have a preference?
  • At what level can indirect costs be included in the budget?

Complete the Intent to Apply form from the OSP and ensure it is routed appropriately. 

As you write the proposal
The application form
Browse the list of frequently requesting data, including the mission statement, the FEIN, the DUNS number and paragraph-length descriptions about FDLTCC that you can insert into your application.

Cover letter/abstract
If the sponsor requests an abstract or cover letter, write these last (even if it will appear first in your final proposal). It is easier to summarize a project if you have already written a draft proposal, and oftentimes, you can take sentences verbatim from your narrative to include in your abstract.

Proposal narrative
Once you have found a sponsor, you will need to follow the sponsor’s guideline in order to write the proposal. Be sure to include everything the sponsor requests, such as non-profit status, resumes, audited financial statements and a list of the Board of Directors or Trustees.

Most sponsors prefer to fund “people” rather than buy “things.” Therefore, describe your project in terms to show how your project will make a difference in the lives of students, faculty, or community members.

Remember that proposals must be persuasive to be successful. Don’t just provide information about your project and expect the sponsor to understand why the project should be funded. You need to explain how this project is a solution to a problem.  Consider including a time and task chart that illustrates who will be doing what and when.

If space allows, provide specific details. Show how your project will be successful, will be sustainable, or has community support. Doing your homework and providing specifics enhances your credibility.

Have as many people as possible proofread your proposal to make sure the information is both understandable and accurate from an outsider’s perspective.

Don’t forget the importance of a well-designed and easy-to-read document. Try using headings, bullets and white space to break up long paragraphs of text. Remember that the important thing is readability. Keep it simple, professional and legible.

Budget
Provide a realistic budget. Don’t inflate your budget. Don’t underestimate the funds required for the project to be successful. Be sure to investigate what the sponsor funds and what the sponsor does not fund (some sponsors will not fund construction costs).

Include a budget narrative that explains the basis of your cost calculations. This will help to persuade reviewers that sufficient funds have been requested to achieve project goals and objectives in a cost-effective manner.

Before you send the proposal
Answer these questions as you review your proposal:

  • Have you demonstrated this project is a solution to a problem that both you and the sponsor care about?
  • Is your proposal as detailed as space allows?
  • Is your proposal persuasive as well as informative?
  • Are budget items allowable, necessary, sufficient and accurately calculated?
  • Is your proposal easy to read?
  • Have other people proofread the proposal?
  • Have you followed all the formatting guidelines?
  • Have you included all requested information and the necessary attachments?
  • Have you included the proposal routing/approval form with the appropriate signatures?
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