EXTERNAL GRANTS AND CONTRACTS: DEVELOPING A PROPOSAL
Step 1: DEVELOP YOUR PROPOSAL WRITING TIMELINE
Developing a grant proposal can be a time consuming process. To assist the principal investigator during this time, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs has developed several resources to aid with grant development and writing. To make sure there is sufficient time to receive all the necessary approvals for grant submission, please review the Proposal Development Timeline.
Step 2: CONTACT THE FUNDING AGENCY
Prior to submitting a written proposal, contacting the funding agency can help determine if the research project is a good fit for their funding priorities. The chance of being awarded increases if your proposal fits well with the research endeavors the program manager is charged to fund. Refer to the Contacting a Program Officer brochure for more information.
Begin the process by researching a funding agency's website to understand their funding agenda and grants recently awarded. Feel free to call the funding agency to inquire about their current funding priorities and award ranges. Briefly explain your project/research/program and ask if it is a good fit or if they have any further suggestions.
Step 3: IDENTITY THE ACCEPTED PROPOSAL FORMAT
THE LETTER OF INQUIRY
A letter of inquiry is a common first-step to apply for foundation and non-profit funding opportunities. It is similar in format to a proposal but shorter in length and gives a glimpse of the project.
THE LETTER APPLICATION
The letter application format should be used when applying to foundations and corporations who do not have an established format for a grant application. It combines the proposal and cover letter into one document and contains the narrative, budget, mission, history, philosophy, and supporting documentation.
PRESCRIBED APPLICATION PACKET
Many funding agencies require their application and format, please refer to their guidelines and websites.
Step 4: WRITING THE NARRATIVE
RESOURCES TO ASSIST WITH GRANT PROPOSAL DEVELOPMENT
- SCSU D2L Brightspace Select “Grant Information” module under Semesterless, to view grant applications which have been funded to help you prepare a better proposal narrative.
- Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Developing and Writing Grant Proposals
- Grants.gov's guide to the federal grant proposal
- Common language and definitions
- When developing the proposal narrative, take into consider the top reasons proposals are rejected.
For additional information on successfully funded grant proposals submitted by St. Cloud State University, contact the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.
Step 5: DEVELOP THE BUDGET
RESOURCES TO ASSIST WITH BUDGET DEVELOPMENT
- For detailed information on salaries/wages, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual, subcontracts/subawards, other direct costs and participant support costs Click here.
- Use the Budget Spreadsheet to enter in specific costs and have the spreadsheet perform the calculations for you.
- When the funding agency is requesting cost sharing either in the form of hard- and/or soft-cash match. Any matches should be documented in the budget narrative and the grant budget in a column labeled match, if space is provided.
- Indirect costs are a necessary part of budget development and all externally funded projects must include these costs (sometimes called facilities and administration costs). It is the responsibility of the principal investigator to include indirect costs in the budget. Click here for additional information related to indirect costs.
- For federally funded projects, the federally negotiated rate should be used. When using the federal rate, costs are calculated using modified total direct costs as noted in the Federal Rate Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services. All other projects use the standard indirect cost rate.
- 33.4% - Federally Negotiated Rate for On-Campus Activities
- 15% - Federally Negotiated Rate for Off-Campus Activities (use of non-SCSU facilities for which rent is paid by the project)
- 12% - Standard Rate for All Non-federal Sources
Most grant applications request identification numbers, governmental districts, fringe benefit rates and authorized officials.