- Programs & Events
- Researchers' Toolkit
- News & Networking
Writing a proposal requires significant research prior to any writing. Knowing what you would like to accomplish is an important first step. Gathering the necessary data and documentation will require planning and is seldom done alone.
Agencies/organizations are interesting in funding proposals that support their individual mission or agenda. Organizations are willing to give funds to others because they can provide something the organizations do not possess. For example, it is more efficient to fund a university to conduct research on exercise physiology because the university already posses the necessary equipment and laboratory, as well as individuals with expertise in the subject area. In addition, foundations are required to give away a certain percentage of their annual income or risk losing their tax exempt status.
Writing a proposal requires a lot of research before you begin writing. Knowing what you would like to accomplish is an important first step. After you have clearly defined your goals, you can begin looking for funding sources. Examining the mission of the funding agencies will help to assure that your goals and the mission of the funding organization is a good match. Read their mission/goal statement carefully (Kiritz, 1980).
Therefore, gathering the necessary data and documentation will require planning and is seldom done alone. Organizing a writing team is an important first step. This will require you to identify organizations and individuals who are supportive of your efforts. These individuals and groups may provide important support and resources.
As you prepare to write the proposal, an important step is to carefully read the proposal and be sure you have a clear understanding of each section. Contacting the funding agencies may help answer any questions that arise. Most requests for proposals (RFPs) will provide a description as to how the proposal will be scored. This scoring should provide a clue as to which sections are most important and where your effort should be focused.
During the review of a grant application, the reviewer often will examine the principle investigator's (PI) experience in administering a funded project. Therefore, it can be important to be able to provide evidence of previous funding. How do you develop a funding track record? One very simple way is to start with smaller, less competitive funding sources. Local foundations and agencies often restrict the resources to a specific group or location, making the number of applicants smaller. A fewer number of applicants is likely to increase the chances of being funded. Another means to build a record of funding is to work with an established researcher/PI to build your experience in the area.
A wide variety of funding sources exist (CDC, 2005). The source you submit your proposal to has an impact on how the proposal should be written and your chances of being funded. In most cases, the more competitive sources will require the author to provide evidence of successfully administering grant funded projects. Therefore, writing your first proposal may be more successful if your application is to a less competitive funding source.
Meeting application deadlines are important to successful funding. If your application must be approved at various levels of your organization (Department Chair, Dean's Office, Provost, etc. or K-12 school administrators), you must allow sufficient time for reading the proposal at each level. If the application is submitted for signatures on the due date, it will be late. Most competitive funding sources will NOT accept late applications.