Submitting a Proposal Checklist
- Obtain preliminary, informal approval of your project from your department head and dean.
- Contact Office of Sponsored Programs to discuss your proposal idea so that we can begin a search for funding. We have access to searchable databases which compile funding opportunities from federal, state, and local governments, as well as corporations and foundations. Workshops on how to use these databases to their fullest potential are available monthly. Once a funder is identified, OSP will assist you with adherence to the appropriate guidelines, completion of application forms, and gathering of required data for your proposal. Note: Principal investigators and campus staff do not create Institutional accounts or register on behalf of Armstrong. These accounts (Grants.gov, FastLane, eRA Commons, proposal CENTRAL, HRSA EHB) are already established through OSP.
Once you have chosen a funder, familiarize yourself with their guidelines. Proposals must conform precisely to the proposal preparation and submission instructions specified in the funder’s instructions and guidance. Review each grant announcement for:
- Eligibility criteria. Does your organization meet the eligibility criteria (subject, geography, type of support)?
- Grant requirements. Does your envisioned project meet the grant requirements? Is the subject matter appropriate? Review funder's statements of overall mission and purpose for clarification and to ask questions. Review requirements for submission with attention to deadlines and method of transmission.
- Evaluation criteria. Gather information regarding criteria for review of the grant. Will the merits of your project score well in relation to the grant selection or award criteria?
- Format requirements. Be sure that the format, length, font sizes and margins are consistent with requirements. Proposals which do not conform to these requirements are frequently relegated to the pile of rejections.
- Budget requirements. What items are considered allowable costs? Some funders pay salary, some don’t. Some pay for computers, others don’t. Are all of the items that need funding allowable costs? Is the magnitude of the budget request consistent with the solicitation and the proposed project?
- Timeline. What is the submission due date? Do you have enough time to prepare the proposal? Every proposal, with dean and chair signatures, must be submitted to OSP for approval 7 work days before the sponsoring agencies' deadline for receipt of your proposal. OSP will not submit proposals to the sponsoring agency on the day they are due. OSP can help you plan your work to meet the deadlines.
- Define your project. Clarify the objectives of your project. Establish your project's relevance to the field. Determine the broad project goals, and then identify the specific objectives that define how you will focus the work to accomplish those goals. You may wish to prepare a concept paper, which provides a framework for defining the scope of work and helps develop project outcomes in specific measurable terms.
- Prepare a draft outline/revise as needed.
- Identify & select writers for each section.
- Determine page numbers for each section.
- Prepare a schedule with due dates for draft sections. OSP will review drafts, assist with writing summaries and abstracts, help prepare budgets.
- Determine review, feedback and editing process for written sections. Schedule independent review from colleagues within and outside of field.
- Arrange for letters of support. Give your letter writers plenty of time to respond. In most cases it is preferable to prepare a draft template for them to follow.
- Determine personnel needs. Identify required personnel both by function and, if possible, by name. Contact project consultants, trainers, and other auxiliary personnel to determine availability; acquire permission to include them in the project; and negotiate compensation. Personnel compensation is an important budget information. Collect CVs. Reformat if necessary.
- Contact the funders. A funder’s project officer can be a significant resource. He/she can address your questions, offer technical assistance, sometimes even review proposal drafts. It is worth it to make contact and establish whatever kind of relationship is possible. You can inquire about how proposals are reviewed and how decisions are made. Clarify budgetary requirements or any guidelines (but don’t make them repeat stuff that is online). Remember, the contacts you make may prove invaluable in the future.
Write the Proposal. Reread guidelines for specifications about required information and format.
- Be realistic. Don't overstate or over-represent what you can do.
- Provide two to four specific aims (no more than four ever), none of the aims should be dependent upon another aim's outcome.
- Slice information into easily digestive bites – use periods, not commas.
- Be positive. Use “expect” when describing results (not hope, pray, etc).
- Sell your idea in all parts of the application (biosketch personal statement, research strategy, specific aims, environment and resources).
- Be brief. Use headlines and white space.
- Write the project summary last!.
- Finish your grant 30 days before deadline, so you’ll have time to ask your colleagues to review and make suggestions.
- Prepare the budget. Have you complied with grant makers’ rules and policies for allowable costs and included only those things the funder is willing to support? Can the job be accomplished with this budget? Review criteria for Direct and Indirect Costs. Budget justification says in numbers what narrative says in words. OSP can offer assistance.
- Assemble any required ancillary material: appendices, support material, bibliography, abstracts or summaries, certifications, etc. If the funder doesn’t ask for it, don’t send it.
- Review for accuracy and completeness and spell check all sections.
- Prepare Table of Contents.
- Prepare Transmittal Letter.
- Authorized Signatures. Fill out the Armstrong Atlantic State University Approval to Submit Proposal for External Funding form. Your signature on the back of the form will indicate your compliance with various federal regulations. (Appropriate college policies can be found in Section 3 of the manual.) Obtain the signatures of your department head and dean. Their approval is required.
- Send a copy of the proposal with the Approval to Submit Proposal for External Funding sheet to the Office of Sponsored Programs. The Office of Sponsored Programs will obtain required institutional signatures and certifications and route your proposal for approval. Under no circumstances should a proposal leave campus without all of the appropriate signatures and approvals. All proposals require review and approval by the OSP, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Vice President for Business and Finance.
Last Steps Prior to Submission
- The complete proposal must be submitted on time in the requested format with the requested number of copies and original authorized signatures.
- Address the proposal as directed in the guidelines.
- Be sure to include required documentation.
- Wait to hear if you are funded. Be patient. This can take six months or more.
- If you are funded: congratulations!!
- If you are not funded: contact the funding source to request feedback about a proposal's strengths and weaknesses. When there is a large volume of submissions this information may not be available but when it is available it can be very valuable!!