Indiana University Northwest
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Office of Sponsored Research

Office of Sponsored Research

What Makes a Strong Proposal

What Makes a Strong Proposal?

A well-formed grant proposal is one that is carefully prepared, thoughtfully planned and concisely packaged.  The potential applicant generally seeks first to become familiar with all of the pertinent program criteria of the funding institution.

Grant seekers should know the basic requirements, application forms, information, and procedures vary among grant-making agencies and foundations. Federal agencies and large foundations may have formal application packets, strict guidelines and fixed deadlines with which applicants must comply, while smaller foundations may operate more informally.  Below are listed just a few suggestions to help make the process go a little smoother.

  • New and original ideas (what?)
  • Sound, succinct, detailed focused plan (how?)
  • Preliminary data and/or feasibility calculations
  • Relevant experience (why me/us?)
  • Clarity concerning future direction (so what?)
  • Well-articulated broader impacts

To make a compelling case, the following should be included in the proposal:

  • Nature of the project, its goals, needs and anticipated outcomes
  • How the project will be conducted
  • Timetable for completion
  • How best to evaluate the results (performance measures)
  • Staffing needs, including use of existing staff and new hires or volunteers
  • Preliminary budget, covering expenses and financial requirements, to determine what funding levels to seek.