College Grants & Sponsored Programs

Tips for Navigating the Proposal Approval Process

Before submitting a proposal to an external funding agency/organization, applicants must secure internal approval authorizing the submission.

Some helpful tips to ensure speedy review and authorization to submit have been included below.

Plan ahead

Preparing a compelling and competitive proposal package may take several months. Begin working on your proposal strategy at least six months before deadline. If you have a draft prepared in advance of the deadline, consider asking a respected colleague – perhaps an experienced researcher with a history of grant funding – to act as a reviewer and provide you with feedback.

Review the program guidelines

Reviewing program guidelines will provide you with a wealth of critical knowledge including eligibility criteria, application requirements, anticipated award amounts/budget levels, etc. This important information is found in documents often referred to as grant proposal guides, program solicitations, dear colleague letters, requests for proposal, or notice of funding opportunities. Another excellent source for application guidelines are program-specific Frequently Asked Questions documents many grant funders provide.

Review sample funded proposals

Some granting agency websites provide sample narratives from funded proposals. Others may provide a database where you can search for what has been funded, such as the NSF Awards Search Database. Once you have found an award you would like to learn more about, you can read the publicly available abstract or, if you would like more information, you can reach out the Principal Investigator (PI) of the project to request a copy of their proposal narrative. Many PIs are willing to share their successful proposals. Reviewing proposals that have been funded is an excellent way to see examples of how you can structure your narrative.

Contact the Grants Office

The Grants Office is available as a resource for faculty developing proposals – in fact, you won’t be able to submit a proposal to a federal agency without the authorized organizational representative in the Grants Office. The Grants Office provides proposal and application checklists, helps interpret and comply with complicated sponsor guidelines, and provides expertise in developing supplemental documentation, such as NSF's RUI Certification, Current & Pending Support forms, and Letters of Commitment.