Seeking and securing funding support is an important but often a complicated process. The Proposal Development Staff are here to help you to navigate through the hurdles. Below is an overview of the proposal development process.
Step 1: Develop a Good Idea
Developing a good idea is an essential step in the proposal writing process. Even well-written proposals are rarely funded if they lack the foundation of a good idea. Be sure to research the literature in your field to know what is current and innovative. Everyone wants to be successful – including the funding agency. Make sure your project is feasible. Contact our Proposal Development Staff for guidance and support.
Outline and organize your project. Good ideas will need to be carefully thought through. Write a 1-2 page white paper and prepare a rough estimate of the amount of funding needed. Discuss your idea with your department chair (or manager) to ensure their support.
Step 2: Identify Funding Sources
Identifying an appropriate funding agency is another key to your success. There are many resources available to search for appropriate funding opportunities. Please be sure to enlist the assistance of the Proposal Development Staff
Funding Alerts and Search Engines
Sample agency funding opportunity lists
Step 3: Preliminary Process
Before you begin to prepare your grant application, there are a few matters to take care of. Please be sure to enlist the assistance of the Proposal Development Staff.
- Carefully read (and re-read) grant funding announcement to determine requirements and feasibility.
- It is then recommended to make contact with the program officer (if allowed) to further gauge their interest in your project.
- Submit a Notice of Intent to Apply to communicate to the campus community of your interest in a particular grant opportunity.
- What if the agency is a foundation or corporation? Notification via email to the Director of Foundations/Corporation of your interest is required as well. You will need to receive and document the approval to proceed prior to submission.
- What if the grant announcement or agency states that only one application per institution may be submitted? Your project will need to go through the limited submission process. An internal competition will be opened. One application will be selected to represent the campus and proceed with the application. Click here.
- With adequate lead time, you may be able to request a copy of a federally funded application via the Freedom of Information Act. Please allow several months just to receive a copy of the successful application, and please coordinate these efforts with the Proposal Development Staff.
Step 4: Write Proposal and Develop Budget
Start your application early. Put together your working team. Determine roles/responsibilities and internal timelines with milestones. If you haven’t already, please be sure to enlist the assistance of the Proposal Development Staff early on in the process.
Depending on the grant idea and agency’s funding level, you may want to consider developing a draft budget before you even begin writing to ensure that the scope of the project doesn’t exceed the potential funds available.
What do I need to know to about budgets?
Any writing tips?
- Know your audience. Depending on who you will be approaching for funds should determine how you will design your narrative. Keep in mind that your narrative needs to be able to communicate and persuade your reviewers, and they will only have the information contained in your application to assess its merits.
- Be clear and concise. Remember, even good ideas need to be well written.
- Keep the review criteria in mind as you write.
- Be organized and logical.
- Follow the instructions/guidelines carefully. Many applications received at the federal level fail simply because the reviewers cannot follow the thought process of the applicant, or the project was not thought through well enough and therefore does not appear to be feasible.
Additional resources include:
Sample of Tutorials, Grant Writing Tips, and Writing Resources
Foundation Center Proposal Writing Short Course
The Art of Writing Proposals (Social Science Research Council)
Hints on Preparing Research Proposals (American Astronomical Society)
NIH Grantwriting Tips Sheets
A Guide for Proposal Writing (National Science Foundation)
The Art of Grantsmanship (Jacob KRAICER)
Grant Proposal Writing Tips (Corporation for Public Broadcasting)
A Guide to Proposal Planning and Writing (Jeremy T. Miner and Lynn E. Miner)
Developing and Writing Federal Grant Proposals (CFDA)
EPA Grant Writing Tips
EPA Grant Writing Tutorial
ETA Grant Toolkit
DOJ Proposal Writing Tips
UTB Style Guide
UTB Fast Facts
UTB Statistical Data
Step 5: Special Considerations
There may be some special considerations that should be addressed early in the proposal development process. If you haven’t already, please be sure to enlist the assistance of the Proposal Development Staff.
Cost Sharing and Matching:
- Please make note of any matching requirements. This should be addressed and secured early in the application process. Prior to submission, these commitments will need to be clearly documented and approved by the applicable account manager.
- Please note: Voluntary matching (matching not required by the agency) is often discouraged.
- Consultants are generally persons external to our University.
- They are often paid a consultant fee and reimbursed for any travel related expenses.
- Biosketch(s) and letter(s) confirming their participation in your project will be needed.
- Subawards/subcontracts are typically made to external entities (e.g. other Universities, businesses, non-profits, etc.)
- For the internal review, you will need from them:
- Scope of Work agreeable to all parties,
- Detailed budget and budget justification
- Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (if the subaward requests any indirect costs)
- Letter of Support signed by their Authorized Organizational Representative or a signed Statement of Intent form
- Letter(s) of Support and biosketch(s) from any key personnel
- Inquire as to their internal review process. Adjust timelines accordingly.
Step 6: Complete Forms
Typically, there are a number of standard and agency specific forms that will be required along with the narrative and abstract in the proposal packet. Please be sure to coordinate this step with the appropriate Proposal Development Staff.
- Instructions are normally found in the grant announcement. If application package is available via Grants.gov, forms will be completed in Cayuse. If using another electronic system for submission, required forms will likely be found there. If the agency requires a paper submission, those forms will need to be downloaded and completed.
- Where do I find institutional codes such as DUNS, EIN, etc.? Please see UTB ID Codes
- Please make special note if any forms require a handwritten signature at the time of submission. Signatures will need to be secured during Step 7 below.
Step 7: Submit Proposal for Internal Review and Approval
Please be sure to enlist the assistance of the Proposal Development Staff in your area.
- UTB uses Cayuse to electronically route all grant applications for internal review. Therefore, all PIs, Chairs/Managers will need to have a user account set up in Cayuse. Please contact OSP to secure a user account in Cayuse.
- Complete a Proposal Transmittal Form (PTF)
- Provide documentation related to any cost sharing or ongoing sustainability commitments.
- Include a copy of the grant announcement.
- Submit application packet at least 3 business days prior to the agency deadline for your proposal to be reviewed and approved for submission. It is recommended, however, to start 4-5 days prior to submission.
Step 8: Grant Submission
Please be sure to enlist the assistance of the Proposal Development Staff in your area.
- All grant applications must be internally reviewed, approved and signed by an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR). UTB’s AORs include the following:
- Dr. Luis Colom, Vice President for Research
- Rosemary Martinez, Vice President of Business Affairs
- Dr. Alan Artibise, Provost
- Dr. Juliet V. Garcia, President
- Office of Sponsored Programs submits all sponsored grant applications on behalf of the University. Institutional Advancement provides guidance with all foundation/corporation applications.
- PI receives confirmation from OSP when the proposal has been submitted.
- After submission, OSP or IA will notify the PI of any Agency technical questions that may arise.
Step 9: Notification of Decision
Notifications of grant award or declines will follow the funding agency’s processes/procedures. Typically, the PI and/or AOR will receive this information.
Upon receipt of the award, please notify OSP and/or IA (depending on the type of submission) so that they can begin to assist you in reviewing the grant terms and conditions and assist you with setting up your account.
If a grant is declined, don’t be discouraged. Many agencies will provide reviewers’ comments that will indicate areas that you may be able to approve upon and resubmit. Some agencies only send the reviewers’ comments upon request, however. Please contact our Proposal Development Staff for further guidance.