Step 2: Plan Your Proposal
Once you have found a funding opportunity that you are interested in pursuing there are several things you should do before you begin writing to increase your success.
Meet with Judy McShannon, Manager of Research Development who will provide advice and discuss next steps. (firstname.lastname@example.org, 575-517-6430)
1. Review the Request for Proposal (RFP)
- Look at the program’s purpose and goals. Does your research meet the agency’s and program’s goal/purpose? If not – move on to another opportunity.
- Understanding the program goals, priorities, and the RFP is key for a competitive proposal!
- These are your proposal directions – read them – before you begin writing your proposal – and especially right before you submit. Did you do/include everything the agency required?
- A common review comment is: “A sound concept, but it does not fit our current funding priorities.” 60% of all proposals are eliminated on first reading because the writer did not make an adequate project match or failed to follow directions.
3. Talk to the Program Officer
- Email the Program Officer your summary page and ask for a time to call – suggest times that you are available, or are not available. Call at the agreed upon time – take notes – listen - be flexible. This is not a sales pitch – this is information gathering.
- The purpose of the call is to determine if your research fits their program. Ask “Does my research fit your program?” “What would you suggest I do to increase my fit?” “Do you have any suggestions on focusing my research?” “Is there another directorate/program you would suggest I submit this research to?”
- Do NOT ask “What do I have to do to get funded?” (That’s like your students asking what do they have to do to get an A)
4. Write a DRAFT budget
- Do this before you start writing. You don’t want to discover on submission day that you have a million dollar idea and can only get a quarter million dollars.
- You also don’t want to discover you proposed enough work to fill ten years and you only can request three years support.
- Scope the amount of work you are proposing to fit the budget and the funding period. Remember – once this funded work is done – you will propose for the next step/level to support your research. You might have to break your research idea into several funding opportunities based on how much you want to accomplish and how much the agency awards.
5. Create a proposal writing timeline
Spending an hour doing this when you start writing will help you tremendously to get a good proposal completed on-time. Working backwards from the submission date – when do you need to:
- release your final proposal for submission to the agency
- submit your Routing Sheet
- recruit partners
- request letters of commitment/support
- have a final budget
- ask people to review a good/semi-final draft of your project
- write the additional documents you need (biographical sketch, collaborators and affiliations, current and pending support, data management, project management, facilities and other resources, etc. – all these documents take time - you need to update them every time you submit a proposal)