Developing and assembling a grant or research proposal can seem intimidating.  Here are some tips to help you get down to writing your proposal.  If you have any questions along the way, just contact the Development Office.


Develop a Concept Paper

One of the best places to start with a proposal is by developing a concept paper. It will help you identify potential funding sources for your project if you don't have specific funding sources in mind. A concept paper can help facilitate communication when you are talking to a program officer. Additionally, a concept paper can help you in obtaining feedback from colleagues regarding the project's uniqueness, feasibility, writing style, format, budget, etc.

Generally two to four pages in length, the concept paper is a succinct description of a project idea. It typically addresses:

  • What is going to be done
  • Why it is important
  • How it will be done and by whom
  • How much money is required and for what general purpose

Once you have finished a draft of your concept paper, the staff in the Office of Grants and Faculty Development can help with editing. (Please consult with us early to establish an appropriate editing schedule.)


Communicate Your Plan

As you begin to prepare your proposal, communicate your intentions to your chair, and the Development Office. The Development Office can also assist you in locating appropriate funding sources for your project if you haven't located funding sources. 


Contact the Funding Agency

Eighty-five percent of funded proposals are written by people who spoke to the program officer at the funding agency.  Before contacting the funding agency or program official, please consult with the Development Office.

Contacting the funding agency for a copy of the guidelines and an example of a funded proposal (or, if available, download) can help you in writing your proposal to ensure that your project is appropriate. The funding agency can help you assess the viability of your idea (funded proposals usually address the priorities of the funding agency) and/or help you decide whether refocusing your project is feasible, or whether the idea should be abandoned.

See our list of questions to ask potential funding agencies. This can help frame your conversation with the program officer at the funding agency and help you determine if the funding agency would be a good fit for your proposal.


Review the Policies

Read the AUCA policies and information about your responsibilities as a primary investigator. Please see the Responsibilities & Compliance section for a complete list of the policies and procedures that you will need to adhere to throughout your project.


Write the Proposal

For an outline and guide to writing your proposal, please download A Guide to Proposal Planning and Writing (pdf) and check out these Tips for Developing a Winning Proposal. You can find additional information about proposal writing in our Proposal Writing Resources.

You may also need these Fast AUCA Facts for grant proposals and Boilerplate Information for Proposals.

While writing your proposal, pay particular attention to the methodology and budget sections of your proposal. These are key areas that funding agencies look at in detail to evaluate your proposal.  Please contact the Development Office if you need help in these areas.


Computing and Space

Clearance for computing and space needs should be obtained before the review process is initiated.  The Development Office can help obtain these clearances. Please contact us for assistance.



At this point your proposal has been written and submitted to the grant funding agency. Now it's time to wait and hear from the funding agency. Should your proposal be awarded, you'll then need to follow the process for Accepting a Grant Award.


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