There are many resources providing guidance for proposal writing on the web including the following major federal and national funding agencies:
The faculty member is responsible for the proposal content and budget, which should be developed strictly in accordance with the agency?s requirements, and submitted by the agency deadline. Typically, a research proposal will include the following:
Include college name, project title, time period, name of faculty member(s) and contact information.
The abstract should state project significance and time span and how it will be accomplished.
Table of Contents
The narrative should be a full and detailed description of the research to be undertaken. It should describe 1) the need for the project, 2) expected results, 3) methodology to be employed, and 4) method of evaluation. The language should be clear, concise and written in the style appropriate to your target audience (e.g., subject matter expert, layman to your field). Do not exceed the page number limitations set by the sponsor. The project narrative should also include:
Bibliographic references should be selected carefully and only those discussed in the proposal should be included.
Appendices may be necessary for a comprehensive understanding of the proposal (e.g., expertise of senior personnel). Additional materials may include bibliography, resumes, letters of support from the institution and peers, copy of a publication, graphs and diagrams, or any other documentation necessary to support the proposal. Do not attach appendices if they are specifically prohibited.
The budget must be as accurate as possible based on estimated costs, some of which may change prior to or after the grant is awarded. Always check the agency guidelines for what the agency will and will not fund. Multi-year budgets should be incremented at the standard "cost of living" rate. The components of the budget are Direct Costs (those directly attributable to the budget) and Indirect Costs (those that cover management and support).
Personnel Salaries and Wages
List all salaries for staff, faculty and students performing work for the project. The estimated time committed to the project by each person should be clearly stated. Summer salaries should be listed separately from academic year salaries. Staff salary increases occur yearly on the starting date anniversary and should be adjusted for multi-year grants. Faculty salary increases occur in July and should be adjusted appropriately for multi-year grants. The formula for calculating course release costs can be obtained from the Linfield faculty grants website.
Benefits for faculty and staff are calculated for all salaries or wages to be expended and include social security, pension, unemployment and healthcare. Current benefit rates are calculated at 38 percent of salary. Note that only an 8.5 percent rate is applied to summer salaries for faculty and students to pay for social security, workers' compensation, etc. During the academic year, the benefit rate is only one percent for students receiving work study funds.
Consultant fees should not be included as salaries and wages. State the total amount for such services and how the total was calculated. Obtain a statement from the consultant detailing charges. To determine a consultant's independent status use the Independent Contractor Checklist provided by Human Resources. FICA and workers' compensation rates do not apply to independent contractors.
Equipment and Supplies
Include any equipment or supplies needed to successfully carry out the project activities. At Linfield, equipment are material goods with a value equal or greater than $5,000 or more and supplies are material goods with a value of less than $5,000.
Include all costs attendant to any publication that is expected to result from the project. This might include purchasing the right to pictures of other material to be included in the book, or the cost of including color prints in the manuscript.
Participant Support Costs
These include stipends, travel, tuition, subsistence, and any other costs necessary for certain types of projects, such as training grants.
These will be needed for any funds that will be passed on to vendors or any other entity that will receive payment to participate in the grant-funded activity.
Items such as duplication, telephone, mail, equipment maintenance, etc. can either be added together under this single category or listed separately.
Per college policy, a 37 percent federal negotiated indirect cost rate applies to all grant application budgets unless the funder indicates a lesser rate must be used or that the organization does not fund indirect costs.
Some agencies may require the institution to demonstrate its participation through the contribution of a portion of the funds required for the overall project. Faculty salary, related fringe benefits, and the indirect cost rate allowed by the funder, and other support are often proposed for cost sharing. This is also known as matching funds. UC Berkeley provides an excellent guide to cost sharing, no cost sharing (as required by NSF) and the language to use for this in budget narrative.
The budget narrative expands on the budget line items, explaining how the faculty member arrived at dollar amounts and giving enough detail to tie them to the project's activities and goals already described. All costs and stipends should be fair and reasonable. Make sure the narrative matches the line-items exactly in the budget and that the total amount is commensurate with the outcome.