Skip to content. Skip to main navigation.


A request for financial or other support of a project is normally made to a prospective sponsor in a written proposal.  The function of a proposal is to convince those who control the distribution of program funds that:

  • The project is within the scope of the program objectives of the funding agency;

  • The project will solve an existing problem or extend current knowledge in the field;

  • The applicant is well acquainted with the state of the art, is familiar with current accomplishments in the field, is qualified to perform the described activities, and has the necessary personnel and facilities to complete the project; and

  • The importance of the anticipated results sufficiently justifies the expenditure of the sponsor’s money.

   While a proposal will be accepted or rejected primarily on its substantive content, the manner in which it is presented can significantly affect the outcome.  One should remember that the indispensable ingredient of a good proposal is a good idea.  However, the best idea in the world, inadequately described or unimaginatively presented, can be misinterpreted or even overlooked in the proposal review process.  Likewise, the most well prepared application will not turn a poorly conceived project design into an inspired idea.

   The objectives of the sponsor as set forth in written or verbal guidelines should be observed.  A proposal should be well‑developed and free of technical, grammatical, and typing errors.  Preparation of the proposal well in advance of a deadline attests to the applicant’s ability to plan carefully.  Time then will be available for review by colleagues to eliminate errors and to present a comprehensive proposal.  The Office of Grant and Contract Services (OGCS) is prepared to assist in reviewing draft proposals for organization and content.  However, it is strongly advised that colleagues in the field review the proposal for substance.  A detailed peer review by members of the applicant's department and college will increase the probability of funding. 

   This guide is designed to assist the applicant in all phases of the project,  from the generation of an idea through the actual award of funds and administration of the grant or contract.