Office of Research

Erika Zynda, Contracts & Grants Coordinator
Administration 248A
(574) 520-4181 | FAX: (574) 520-5549

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Grant Writing Workshop

The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli

Elements of Successful Proposals

  1. Cover:
  2. If the grantor does not provide a cover form or format, create a simple cover. Include grantor's name, applicant organization, submittal date, project title, proposed project period, amount requested, project director's name and signature, and name and signature of the organization's authorized representative.
  3. Table of Contents:
  4. Even if the guidelines don't specifically mention a table of contents it is a good idea of proposals over 5 pages long.
  5. Abstract (also called Project or Executive Summary):
  6. Briefly state the problem, significance, objectives, method, and anticipated outcome. The typical length is 150-250 words. This may be the first or only thing a reviewer reads.
  7. Statement of Need:
  8. Why is this project necessary!!
  9. Project Description (also called Narrative or Research Plan)
    • Introduction--introduce applicant; establish credibility particularly in the area of funding is being sought
    • Significance (also called Problem Statement)--discuss the condition the applicant wishes to change; give evidence of the problem; explain why solving the problem is important to the grantor, the applicant, and others.
    • Objective (also called Specific Aims)--state in measurable terms the project's specific desired outcomes; relate the objectives directly to the stated problem.
    • Methodology (also called Procedure, Plan of Work, or Experimental Design)--describe activities to be performed to meet the stated objectives; defend choice of activities; discuss who will perform activities; include a timetable
    • Personnel and Facilities (also called Qualification of Applicant Organization)--describe in detail the qualifications of key project personnel and describe the facilities already available or promised for performance of project.
    • Evaluation--state plans to evaluate the project; indicate who will conduct the evaluation (project personnel or a consultant?) and what will be done with the results.
    • Long-term Project Plan--describe plans for the project after the requested funding period; if it will continue, what has been done or will be done to ensure support.
  10. Budget - sample 1 year budget
  11. Budget Explanation (also called Budget Justification):
  12.   sample 2year budget with justification Arrange by budget categories. Briefly explain how budget items were estimated. Details of personnel salary and benefit rates, travel rates, equipment needs, supplies, computer rates, and indirect cost rates are among the items usually included.
  13. Vitae (also called Resume or Biographical Sketch):
  14. Include vitae for the project director and key personnel. Some grantors have a specific format for vitae and may specify a page limitation or that recent publications should be included. In no guidelines are mentioned, keep the vitae short--two to five pages is adequate.
  15. Other Support (also called Current and Pending Support):
  16. Indicate key personnel's current and pending funding for this and other work. Include granting agency, project title, amount awarded or requested, project period, percent of effort committed by the individual, and project location. Some grantors also require a brief description of the project.
  17. Appendices (also called Attachments):
  18. Depending on the format for the main part of the proposal, some of the components described here separately may be included as appendices. Possible appendices are: vitae, facilities description, letters of support, illustrations, or anything that is not included in the body of the proposal but should be accessible to reviewers. Some grantors do not allow appendices.

Elements of a Letter Proposal

Occasionally foundations or corporations will request a simple letter proposal. The main components of a letter proposal are:

  • an introductory paragraph stating the reason for writing
  • a paragraph explaining why this grantor was selected
  • a needs paragraph
  • a solution paragraph
  • a uniqueness paragraph
  • a request for funds paragraph
  • a closing paragraph
  • signatures
  • attachments, if allowed