Developing a proposal for an external funder, whether public sponsor or private foundation, typically follows the format described below. Proposal development may be in response to a sponsor's Request for Proposals (RFP) or open Program Announcement (PA). Private foundations may issue RFPs or publish regularly scheduled application dates with identified funding priorities and focus areas, as well as applicant, program eligibility, and other guidelines.
Roles and Responsibilities During Proposal Development
Principal Investigator (PI)
- Once a potential sponsor or RFP has been identified, PIs are responsible for developing the proposal's scientific and program-specific language. The proposal is often largely written by the PI(s), as they are expert in their research or program area. Both OSP and RICF have staff experienced in proposal writing who may be able to provide assistance in the writing process.
- Should be familiar with the RFP and/or sponsor's proposal guidelines which describe submission rules, eligibility, instructions and deadlines. PIs and the college must meet sponsor requirements. Proposals that do not conform to guidelines (including format) are commonly rejected without review.
- Must be familiar with institutional approval rules and processes that dictate how proposals may be submitted from the college to any external sponsor.
College institutional approval is required before a proposal can be submitted.
- Typically serves as lead coordinator of internal and external collaborations and requirements for proposal submission. Should be cognizant of sponsor and college rules regarding submission.
Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)
- Supports the proposal development process as prompted by the PI. OSP commonly provides proposal editing assistance, can seek sponsor clarification of rules and requirements, and may assist in the writing process. The office may also help to develop and coordinate internal and external collaborations.
- Often participates in developing proposal budgets at PI request.
- Responsible for maintaining access to electronic proposal submission systems such as grants.gov. OSP often enters proposal data and submits proposals on behalf of (or in coordination with) the PI. In some cases, OSP is required by the sponsor to submit a proposal on behalf of the college.
- OSP guides PIs through proposal development, often assisting with technical aspects such as budgets and electronic submissions. The office ensures that proposal requirements of the college, such as financial information or letters of support, are met. The office also supports PIs in other aspects of the process, as requested.
- OSP is required to follow institutional approval rules. No proposal can be submitted without proper approvals.
Please proceed to sub-sections listed in the left-side page navigation to learn more about specific components of proposal development.