Sponsored Research Office

Preparing Proposals for External Funding

Preparing Your Proposal

There is no grantsmanship that will turn a bad idea into a good one, but there are many ways to disguise a good one.—William Raub, Former Deputy Director, NIH

A good proposal has at its core a good idea. It takes considerable time and effort, however, to develop a good idea into a solid proposal and it may take multiple submissions to refine the proposal prior to receiving an award. In general, be prepared to address the following questions as you develop a concept paper (generally required for foundations) or proposal:
It is important to discuss your proposed project with your colleagues, department chair, and Dean of the Faculty as you refine the proposal. SRO personnel are available to review and critique your proposal as time allows. Internal peer review of proposals prior to submission is highly recommended.

If you anticipate that a financial obligation or additional space not already allocated to you will be required from the College as part of your request for funding, the Dean of the Faculty should be contacted early in the proposal development process and if approved a commitment letter should be obtained.

Once you have identified a potential sponsor, the SRO can secure program guidelines and application materials for you. Read the guidelines carefully and follow vigorously any instructions published by the prospective sponsor. If instructions are not provided by the sponsoring agency, the following proposal outline is recommended:

Private foundations and corporate sponsors often request a brief (2– 3 page) concept proposal often in the form of a letter. Such sponsors may prefer to invite applicants to submit full proposals based on the appeal of the concept proposal. A good concept paper is not merely a letter of introduction or inquiry, but should reflect the essence of the full proposal. These letters (pre-proposals) should be crafted in partnership with the appropriate administrative office. Individuals should not submit proposals without the involvement of either the SRO or the Office of Foundation and Corporate Relations.

The Office of Sponsored Research serves faculty who seek external funding to support their pedagogy, scholarship and research. The Director of Sponsored Research and the Assistant assist faculty as they search for appropriate funding agencies, develop proposals, design related budgets, secure matching funds from the College, and transmit requests to governmental and to private foundations. The SRO is the College NSF FastLane officer, the signing official for NIH Commons, and the Authorized Organization Representative for Grants.gov.