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Proposal Writing Guides

Preparing a strong proposal requires a significant investment of time, ingenuity, and energy. The sections below will help you focus your efforts on specific principles helping you accomplish this goal. A host of factors impact the probability of success. It is best to use each suggestion as a guideline and not as a hard and fast rule. Knowing how to draft a good proposal and having the time to do it may be two separate things. Be sure to have a sound plan prior to putting the application together; this will help make certain you do not run out of time or get discouraged and rushed in the proposal preparation process.

“A good proposal is a good idea, well expressed, with a clear indication of the methods for pursuing the idea, evaluating the findings, and making them known to all who need to know.” – National Science Foundation

Proposals should be concise if responding to a solicitation. Contact the program officer at the sponsoring agency for details as you develop your concept and subsequent proposal. Also consider getting input from peers prior to discussing new lines of research you have developed. If your proposal is petitioning for unsolicited funding, you still need to meet some basic guidelines; your idea‟s impact on your industry or the community as a whole, expertise available and needed, the cost effectiveness of your plan, and how you will evaluate and disseminate findings.*

* This is not an all inclusive list. Refer to standard proposal guidelines from potential sponsors or grant writing resources for specific instructions.

Check out some useful resources to help you prepare a proposal
Other Resources

National Science Foundation 

A Guide for Proposal Writing

National Institutes of Health

Writing your Application NIAID

All About Grants: Tutorials and Samples

Sample R01 and R21 Applications and Summary Statements

Insider’s Guide to Peer Review for Applicants

Glossary and Acronym List

Social Science Research Council

The Art of Writing Proposals

Foundation Center

Proposal Writing Short Course

Human Frontier Science Program

The Art of Grantsmanship, by Jack Kraicer

Other Resources

Online Evaluation Resource Library

Having a clear and concise plan of how to carry out your project will help you scale your project. Each potential funder will want to know how far along your project is in development, what your intended goals and objectives are (both short and long term), why is the idea important or revolutionary, how much will the project cost (not just in the short term), and how long might it take until progress is made. Knowing, or at least attempting to answer, a majority of these questions will help you bring attention to your project‟s potential. Creating enthusiasm for your idea helps get funders behind your work. Also, being aware of the current stage of your idea will determine which solicitations are best to pursue. So, this exercise is important to undertake prior to beginning to respond to a solicitation in earnest.