Steps in Developing a Proposal

Now that you have identified the project/idea you wish to propose, how do you get started? What role can the Office of Sponsored Programs play in assisting you? What are your responsibilities as a project director? See the chart below for a plan of action.





Develop the project idea

Review literature.
Relate idea to purpose.
Consult with other experts.
Make initial contacts with potential external partners/collaborators.
Hold preliminary discussions with the department chair, VPAA and Sponsored Programs.


Analyze federal, state and private agency programs using all sources of information on available funding.
Analyze and track legislation.
Identify alternative sources of funding.
Prepare timeline for completion of local tasks.



Begin pre-proposal activities


Prepare the Intent to Submit Form and circulate for signatures.
Determine potential sponsors to be approached.
Determine personnel (ASC and non-ASC) needed.
Determine % of effort, salaries, wages and fringe for personnel.
Determine matching or cost-sharing requirements (if applicable).
Obtain estimates for costs of unusual items (e.g., equipment).
Prepare brief, informal proposal with a draft budget.
Determine the Project Director/Principal Investigator.
Apply for human subjects/animal subjects compliance assurances.
Confer with the sponsoring agency.


Assist in selecting potential sources.
Obtain proposal guidelines.
Facilitate contacts at the sponsoring agency.
Explain policies for human subjects/animal subjects review process.
Obtain salary figures and correct estimates of in-kind matches.
Assist in clarifying proposal requirements.


Plan and develop the proposal narrative and budget outline

Develop preparation schedule to meet deadline.
Coordinate on-campus requirements.
Discuss project with off-campus partners and define the role of each partner.


Review proposal narrative.
Assist with project cost analysis.
Provide data about fringe benefits, salaries, facilities costs for matching, etc.
Confirm matching approvals and account numbers.


Prepare draft of formal proposal

Discuss proposal with the Office of Sponsored Programs.
Obtain letters of cooperation from external partners.
Request review of the proposal and budget by the department chair and VPAA.


Analyze proposal format and text.
Provide technical assistance as appropriate.
Prepare budget and obtain compliance certifications.



Transmit proposal for required signatures


Deliver completed proposal and one complete copy of all materials to be submitted to the Office of Sponsored Programs, after obtaining all required approvals at least 5 days before the agency deadline.



Approve final proposal.
Confirm how many copies are to be submitted to the agency and who will do final copying and mailing (if hard copy).



Transmit proposal to potential sponsor

Prepare a letter of transmittal or additional technical/special information.

Prepare proposal package.
Transmit proposal to the agency (electronically or via private carrier).



Negotiate with the agency

Be available for discussion on technical, programmatic and financial aspects of the proposal.


Prepare and obtain approval of the negotiated budget.
Negotiate the budget with the agency.
Submit revised negotiated budget and program narrative.
Determine status of the pending proposal, if necessary.
Conduct other appropriate follow-up.